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Singer Millie Small dies in London

Regional 08 May, 2020 Follow News

Millie Small recorded My Boy Lollipop at 17

Millie Small, the Jamaican singer who introduced the world to ska with her hit My Boy Lollipop in 1964, has died from a stroke in England, aged 73.

My Boy Lollipop is still regarded as one of the all-time biggest-selling reggae or ska discs. It remains one of the biggest-selling ska songs of all time, with more than seven million sales.

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell announced her death and remembered her as "a sweet person, really special".

It was Blackwell who brought Small to London in 1963 and produced her version of My Boy Lollipop, showcasing her childlike, high-pitched vocals.

"I would say she's the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record," he said.

"It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world. I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it.”

Born Millicent Dolly May Small in Clarendon, south Jamaica, she was one of seven brothers and five sisters, raised on the sugar plantation where her father was an overseer.

At the age of 12, she won a talent contest at the Palladium Theatre in Montego Bay and by her teens, she was recording for Sir Coxone Dodd's Studio One label in Kingston.

There, she teamed up with reggae singer Roy Panton, and they became one of the island's most prolific duos, scoring a major hit with We'll Meet.

Blackwell took an interest in the singer after releasing some of those records in the UK on his fledgling record label, Island, and brought her to London in 1963.

The singer is survived by her daughter, Jaelee, who is also a musician based in London.

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