In a world which still tries to force the evil and false philosophy of white supremacy down the throat of the people, they would have us believe that Bob Marley is bigger than Reggae because of his white father. The truth is, while Bob Marley gained international fame and fortune from reggae music, he pales in comparison to some of the real geniuses of Reggae music.
Today we look at Alton Ellis.
He was the Jamaican Sam Cooke, one of the best vocalists Jamaica has ever known. Ask any of the great Jamaican vocalists from Beres Hammond to Sanchez and they will tell you that they were influenced by Alton Ellis.
Like Cooke, Ellis set the standard during the 1960s. Unlike his American counterpart, he did not have the luxury of recording in ‘proper’ studios or making thousands of dollars from his hit songs.
In a 2004 interview with a Jamaican newspaper, Ellis summed up his career in 1969.
“I was making all these hits for all these different producers an’ still live inna one bedroom inna Trench Town,” he said.
Those challenges forced him to leave Jamaica for Canada, then the United Kingdom. It was not until the 1990s when there was a rocksteady revival in Jamaica that a new generation of fans discovered his greatness.
Many of Ellis’s songs, including You Make Me So Very Happy and I’m Just A Guy, are covers, but his songwriting was up to par. Dance crasher, Cry Tough, and Lord Deliver Us perfectly captured the rude boy scene and woes of ghetto life he experienced in 1960s Trench Town.
While Ellis settled in the UK during the 1970s, a new wave of reggae singers hailed him. Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor and Sugar Minott are just some of the artistes he influenced.
Alton Ellis ‘made’ the US pop chart in 2004 when Sean Paul and Sasha covered his I’m Still In Love With You. That year, he was the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his contribution to Jamaican music.
He died from cancer, in London, in 2008.