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Yesterday, some sad news came through. One of reggae’s most cherished voices, John Holt, passed away aged 67.
It was confirmed via his manager Copeland Forbes that he died early on Sunday morning.
The Kingston-born Holt effortlessly crossed the genres of ska, reggae and rocksteady. The star rose to fame as part of the group The Paragons, recording the original The Tide Is High, the song that Blondie famously covered.
Some of his other notable hits included Stick By Me, Police and Helicopter and Ali Baba.
Here are a few things you may not have known about the reggae veteran.
1. By the age of 12, he was a regular entrant in talent contests
These competitions took place in Jamaican theatres, which were ran by Vere Johns, a famous Jamaican radio personality who helped launched the careers of musicians.
Holt scooped 28 talent awards over four years.
2. He released more than 40 albums
Holt recorded his first single, I Cried A Tear in 1963, when he was just 16. His first album with The Paragons, On The Beach, was released in 1967, while his last album, Peacemaker, was released in 1993.
3. He covered The Beatles
Holt’s honey-dripped cover of the Beatles classic I Will was sampled on Jay-Z’s 2003 track Encore. The Kanye West-produced track borrowed the horns from the first few seconds of Holt’s version.
4. He’s been covered by countless artists
The Paragons song Man Next Door was covered by artists including Massive Attack, UB40, the Slits and Dennis Brown. And the song The Tide Is High has been covered more times than you could count on your fingers. Even Billy Piper has a version.
5. Blondie’s cover of The Tide Is High made history
It was Debbie Harry’s cover of Holt’s hit that was most successful. It was the first reggae song to reach number one in the US Billboard.
It also reached number one in the UK charts.
6. His single Stick By Me was the best selling Jamaican record of 1972
The record was produced by Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, who also worked with dub pioneers King Tubby and reggae singer Johnny Clarke.
7. In an interview, Holt said that London was his favourite ‘town’.
Apart from Kingston, Jamaica of course!
8. His final on stage appearance was at One Love Festival, in Milton Keynes
Although he was battling illness, it didn’t stop him from turning up to play an incredible show for his fans.