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    (September 21, 1942-February 17, 2021)
    Born in Kingston, Jamaica
    Birth name was Ewart Beckford
    Jamaican deejay and toaster (performer who talks or chants over a backing track)
    Recorded the albums ‘Version Galore’ (1970), ‘U Roy’ (1974), ‘Dread in a Babylon’ (1975), ‘Natty Rebel’ (1976), ‘Rasta Ambassador’ (1977), ‘The Originator’ (1980), ‘True Born African’ (1991), ‘Babylon Kingdom Must Fall’ (1996), ‘Old School/New Rules’ (2007), ‘Pray Fi Di People’ (2012), and ‘Talking Roots’ (2018)
    He got his stage name from a younger relative’s inability to pronounce ‘Ewart.’
    He was surprised by his success on records: ‘I didn’t really took it seriously.’
    In the wake of his 1970 chart success, other Jamaican labels rushed out their own toasting singles by performers with suspiciously similar names: Hugh Roy, Mad Roy, U-Roy Junior (not actually a relation), etc.
    With ‘Wake the Town,’ ‘This Station Rule the Nation,’ and ‘Wear You to the Ball,’ he had three consecutive records hit #1 on the Jamaican singles chart (1970).
    Those three records held the top three positions on the singles chart for six weeks.
    Dub producer Mad Professor said about his influence, ‘Without him there would be no Dancehall, no Hip-hop, no Rap, no Afrobeat.’
    He received the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government for his contributions to music (2007).
    During a concert in Queens, Shabba Ranks placed a crown on his head and called him the ‘Picasso of our music.’ (2019)

Credit: C. Fishel

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