Reggae legend and toasting pioneer U-Roy has died.
The Jamaican born artist was 78 years old, and his death was confirmed in a statement by Trojan Records.
Born Ewart Beckford, he was drawn to Kington’s soundsystem culture as a teen, taking the stage when just 14 years old.
Picking up on the nascent toasting style – listen to those Prince Buster B-sides for an example – he pushed it further and further, with his melodic style and sharp bars effectively creation an art form.
Becoming the lead MC on King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi as the 60s drew to a close, the producer’s then-embryonic dub experimentation gave him further space for self-expression.
A string of huge hits in 1970 and 1971 earned him stardom across Jamaica, with ‘Wake The Town’ becoming a reggae evergreen.
Releasing a string of singles throughout the 70s, U-Roy was lauded by Joe Strummer hip-hop pioneer Kool DJ Herc alike.
Later launching his own label, U-Roy worked continuously well into his 70s, becoming a festival staple on both sides of the Atlantic.
A true reggae original, his passing has been widely mourned:
RIP Daddy U Roy the iconic toaster who changed the paradigm of Jamaican music when he voiced the ‘Version Galore’ album …I was always in awe of him; the tone of voice, the cadence, the lyrical shimmering and riddim riding made him ‘the soul adventurer’ pic.twitter.com/t9n4SNkEzr
— David Rodigan (@DavidRodigan) February 18, 2021
— maryanne hobbs (@maryannehobbs) February 18, 2021
Rest in peace mighty U-Roy https://t.co/nAGqjOF24L
— The Bug(official) (@thebugzoo) February 18, 2021
RIP U-Roy. They ain’t ready for your toasting in heaven. pic.twitter.com/jxKh35yK5A
— Ghostpoet (@ghostpoet) February 18, 2021
The man, the legend. Rest well Daddy U-Roy pic.twitter.com/isQ7EWmnND
— Buju Banton (@bujubanton) February 18, 2021
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