By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, LONDON, England, Tues. Oct. 21, 2014: Fans of singer John Holt were quick to take to social media yesterday to pay tribute to the reggae legend.
Holt, who sang the original version of Blondie’s hit ‘The Tide is High,’ passed away Sunday at a London hospital at the age of 67 his manager Copeland Forbes told the Jamaica Observer. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Jamaican Grammy winning singer Shaggy tweeted: “We have lost a legend. Very instrumental part of our reggae history! You’ll be missed.”
Fellow Jamaican artist Sean Paul Tweeted: “RIP Sir John Holt. You have served your culture well. I salute you” while UB40 added that Holt was a “massive inspiration and will be sorely missed.”
Other fans would not be left out. “RIP great Brother!!,” said Brice Rimebackmag on Holt’s Facebook page while Ieks McBean added: “RIP Mr John Holt….you was legend within your self…your soul will live on in your music.”
Holt was born in Kingston in 1947. By the age of 12, he was a regular entrant in talent contests run at Jamaican theatres by Vere Johns. Holt’s style, notably slower and more romantic than most of his contemporaries, is a recognizable forerunner of the lovers rock style which developed in the UK during the 1970s. He recorded his first single in 1963 with “I Cried a Tear” for record producer Leslie Kong, and also recorded duets with Alton Ellis.
Holt achieved prominence in his home country as lead singer of the Paragons and they cut a succession of singles for Duke Reid at his Treasure Isle Studio and enjoyed a string of hits, including “Ali Baba,” “Tonight,” “I See Your Face,” and “The Tide Is High” (later made famous by Blondie and also covered by Atomic Kitten).
“Wear You to the Ball” was another of his hits with the Paragons, and hit the charts again when U-Roy added a Deejay verse to it. During his time with the Paragons, he also recorded solo material for Studio One (including “Fancy Make-up,” “A Love I Can Feel,” “Let’s Build Our Dreams,” “OK Fred”) and Prince Buster (“Oh Girl” and “My Heart Is Gone”)
Holt left the Paragons in 1970 and concentrated on his solo career. By the early 1970s, he was one of the biggest stars of reggae.
As a solo artist, Holt’s 1972 track ‘Stick By Me’ was the biggest-selling Jamaican record of the year.
His only success in the UK came with his 1974 cover version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night,’ which spent 11 weeks in the top 40 and peaked at number six.
Holt went on to release almost 40 albums over his career, mostly through Trojan Records. His last solo album, Peacemaker, was released in 1993.