Legendary Jamaican Vocalist U-Roy Passes Away Aged 78

Pioneering Jamaican reggae artist U-Roy has died at the age of 78, his partner has confirmed.

Roy, who is best known for promoting a style of voice known as “toast”, died Wednesday.

Cause Of Death

Among those to pay tribute were Grammy award-winning artist Shaggy and British singer-songwriter Ghostpoet.

U-Roy’s partner, Marcia Smikle, told the local news website The Gleaner that the singer was being treated for diabetes and high blood pressure, and also suffered from kidney problems.

The singer, whose real name is Ewart Beckford, had undergone surgery at a hospital in the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

She said he had been in and out of hospital and most recently had undergone an operation to address an issue of internal bleeding.

“It was successful, and the bleeding stopped,” Ms Smikle said, but the doctors had to take him back into the operating theatre at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Wednesday and he later died.


After the news of U-Roy’s death spread, Jamaican reggae artist Shaggy described him on Instagram as “a hero” and a “true legend” who was a master of the arts.

British singer Ghostpoet, who was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011 and 2015, tweeted “RIP”.

BBC Radio 1Xtra reggae music presenter David Rodigan described U-Roy as “the iconic toaster who changed the paradigm of Jamaican music”.

Former BBC Radio DJ Rob Da Bank said he was toaster extraordinaire”

Toasting Career

Born in Jones Town, Kingston, in September 1942, U-Roy’s musical career began as a DJ in 1961.

It was during this time that he adopted the “toasting”,a rhythmical vocal style performed over reggae and dance tracks that then became popular in Jamaica in the later 1960s and 70s.

Roy has recorded many singles and albums, with some of his most popular being Dread in a Babylon in 1975 and Natty Rebel in 1976.

In the years that followed, in 2004, he appeared in the Jamaican band Toots and Maytals’ Grammy award-winning True Love album.

In 2007, the Jamaican government awarded him the Order of Distinction for his role in music.


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