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Pioneering reggae star Alton Ellis dies in London

October 12th, 2008 · No Comments

The Associated Press
Saturday, October 11, 2008

LONDON: Reggae music pioneer Alton Ellis, who enjoyed a career revival in recent years after a string of hits in the 1960s, has died in a London hospital. He was 70.

Officials at Hammersmith Hospital said Ellis died “peacefully” Friday and that his family did not wish to release further details. He had been hospitalized for several weeks.

In a tribute to Ellis posted on its Web site, Trojan Records on Saturday mourned “the passing of a reggae legend” and said Ellis had been suffering lymphatic cancer. He collapsed during a club performance in London in August and never recovered his health, the record company said.

Ellis was known as “the Godfather of rocksteady” and enjoyed a string of hits in Jamaica during the very early days of reggae.

At the beginning of his career, he had several hits while fronting the vocal group “The Flames,” including “Dance Crasher,” “I’m Just a Guy” and “Sunday Coming.

He began his career in the late 1950s, before Jamaican music had earned a worldwide following, and recorded for many local producers before launching his own All-tone label.

Ellis moved to Canada and then to England in the 1970s as his career went into decline, but he returned to popularity in the last 15 years because of a rocksteady trend in Jamaica and Europe.

Ellis is survived by his wife and more than 20 children.

Funeral plans were not immediately announced.

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