Jamaican Reggae legend, U-Roy is dead

Ewart Beckford, Jamaican reggae legend, popularly known, as U-Roy, is dead.

Marcia Smikle, his partner, confirmed this death to The Gleaner, Jamaican news website

He died at 11:10 last night at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) after undergoing kidney surgery.

Smikle disclosed that U-Roy had been receiving treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, and also suffered with kidney problems.

“He had diabetes and hypertension, but those were under control because we made sure he took his medication. But he also had a kidney problem and was being treated at Andrews [Hospital], and then they told us to take him to UWI for surgery because the kidney had messed up the bladder, and he was bleeding.”

She, however, added that a dialysis for the kidney was recommended but the Reggae legend refused to do that before he died.

Dancehall star, Shaggy reacting to his death described U-Roy as a true legend.

On his Instagram page, he wrote, “Today we lost one of our heroes! A true legend in this game of dancehall/ Reggae.

“With such greats as Colonel Josey Wales and Charlie Chaplin, pioneers in this game with a catalogue of amazing recordings U Roy was a master at his craft. Rest Well daddy Roy!”

U-Roy in 2004 was among the artists to feature on Toots and the Maytals’ Grammy-winning all-star album True Love.

He was also awarded the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government for his contribution to music in 2007.

As a traveling sound system DJ in the 1960s and ’70s, alongside the legendary likes of King Tubby (for whom he rapped, famously), and Coxsone Dodd, U-Roy lent his often lovely and mellifluous conversational chatter — rapping with a flow and an intuitive feel for the rhythms — to sparsely arranged reggae, dancehall and dub tracks in a live setting. Not only did this make him one of dancehall’s toasting innovators, U-Roy crafted some of the earliest forms of rap, for which he won sobriquets such as ‘The King of Toasters’ and ‘The Originator’.

Dancehall producer Duke Reid and ska king/Paragons singer John Holt put U-Roy behind the mic for early rocksteady singles such as “Wear You to the Ball” and “Rule the Town,” before releasing now-classic albums such as 1970’s “Version Galore,” 1975’s “Dread in a Babylon,” and the globally inspiration likes of 1976’s “Natty Rebel,” and 1978’s “Jah Son of Africa.”

Along with toasting on albums by Lee Scratch Perry, Ziggy Marley and Peter Tosh, as well as being gifted with a Grammy for his toasting on Toots and Maytals’ 2004 album “True Love” (2005 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album), U-Roy was famed for creating his own sound system, Stur Gav, which birthed future toasting superstars such as Josey Wales and Ranking Joe.

“Today we lost one of our heroes,” wrote Boombastic dancehall hitmaker Shaggy on Instagram of U-Roy’s inspiration and innovation. “U Roy was a master at his craft. Rest Well daddy Roy!! R.I.P. walk good.”

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