Clarke grew up in the Kingston ghetto of Whitfield Town and attended Kingston College.[ In 1971 he won a talent contest in Bull Bay, his prize a meeting with producer Clancy Eccles, with whom he recorded his first song, “God Made the Sea and the Sun”, the following year. The single didn’t sell well, and disappointed with the lack of promotion from Eccles, he moved on to Rupie Edwards, who produced Clarke’s first hits in 1973, with “Everyday Wondering” and “Julie”. In 1974, Clarke moved on again, recording “Jump Back Baby” for Glen Brown, before beginning a long association with Bunny Lee and his band The Aggrovators in 1974. “None Shall Escape the Judgement” was an immediate success and became the title track on Clarke’s debut album.