The news of his passing came from his daughter, Eruth Spencer, who confirmed that her father passed away on February 2, 2023, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. While the exact cause of death remains unknown, Coffie had been bravely battling diabetes for several years.
Spencer shared a poignant insight into her father’s life, revealing how his health struggles ultimately led to his departure from Inner Circle. “My dad always had diabetes… it started to take a toll on him during his time with the band, which is why he decided to step away,” she shared with DancehallMag.
Since then, Coffie continued to grapple with diabetes, and despite the efforts of his loving family, he became increasingly distant. “We tried reaching out to him—myself, my brother, his siblings—but we received no response from him since January,” Spencer explained. “The last time any family member spoke to him was on February 1st, and the next day, we tragically discovered that he had passed away.”
Calton Coffie’s voice resonated with millions, leaving an indelible mark on the world of Reggae music. His legacy will forever shine bright, as his timeless hits continue to captivate listeners and inspire new generations of artists.
Coffie’s journey with Inner Circle spanned from 1986 to 1994, during which he showcased his talents as the lead vocalist, percussionist, and keyboard player on five of the group’s albums. After his departure, he embarked on a solo career under the name Hot Cup of Coffie, finding a base in the United Kingdom.
One of Coffie’s most notable contributions was his soulful vocals on Inner Circle’s smash hit, “Bad Boys.” This iconic track served as the theme song for the popular TV series COPS and later found its way into the film Bad Boys (1995), starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The song’s infectious melody also featured in Tom Cruise’s Minority Report (2002) and various other movies and TV series, further solidifying its cultural impact.
A screenshot from the “Games People Play” music video. From left: Azelio “David” Spencer, Eruth Spencer, Tafari Coffie.
Coffie’s distinctive voice also graced Inner Circle’s chart-topping sensation, “Sweat (A La La La La Long).” This feel-good anthem recently achieved Gold Certification in the United Kingdom, with over 400,000 copies sold, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Notably, Coffie’s daughter, Spencer, made a memorable cameo appearance in the music video for “Sweat” when she was just a young girl.
Both “Sweat” and “Bad Boys,” produced by band members Ian Lewis, Roger Lewis, and Touter Harvey, were featured on Inner Circle’s 12th studio album, Bad To The Bone, released in 1992. The infectious beats of “Sweat” dominated the charts, spending 25 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at No. 16. In the UK, it enjoyed a 19-week run on the Singles Chart, reaching an impressive No. 3. Meanwhile, “Bad Boys” held strong for 20 weeks on the Hot 100, hitting No. 8, and made a brief appearance on the UK Chart at No. 52.
In the US, the Bad To The Bone album was reissued as Bad Boys, which found considerable success, spending 49 weeks on the Billboard 200 and peaking at No. 64.
The outstanding Bad Boys album earned Inner Circle the prestigious Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1994, marking a significant milestone in their career. The following year, with Coffie as the lead singer, the band received their second Grammy nomination in the same category for their follow-up album, Reggae Dancer.
Among the tracks on the Reggae Dancer album was “Games People Play,” which enjoyed a five-week presence on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 84, and a two-week stint on the UK Singles Chart, reaching No. 67.
With roots dating back to 1968, Inner Circle boasts a rich history led by the dynamic brother duo, Roger and Ian Lewis.
In 1974, they made an unforgettable addition to their lineup by recruiting the incomparable Jacob Miller as their lead vocalist. Miller’s passionate performances captivated audiences, leaving an indelible mark on the reggae scene. Tragically, his time with the group was cut short when he passed away in 1980, leaving a void that would never be fully filled.
One of the band’s long-standing pillars is Bernard “Touter” Harvey, who joined the Inner Circle family in 1973. His musical prowess and unwavering dedication have played an integral role in shaping the group’s sound and legacy.
As the years unfolded, Inner Circle continued to evolve, welcoming new talents into their midst. Lancelot Hall, Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick, and Andre Philips injected their unique energy and skills, breathing new life into the band and contributing to its ever-growing success.
Together, these extraordinary musicians have forged a bond that transcends time and captivates audiences with their electrifying performances. Inner Circle’s journey is one of collaboration, passion, and the eternal pursuit of creating reggae magic that resonates with fans worldwide.
By Donovan Miller