JOHN HOLT IS DEAD – by Ian Andrews

KINGSTON, October 20 – Jamaican reggae icon John Holt has died ! The man who delighted fans in Jamaica and other parts of the world , with classics such as ” Stick by Me ” My Heart is Gone ” and ” Ali Baba”, died in London England on Sunday October 19 at age 67

John Kenneth Holt was born in Kingston,Jamaica on the 11th of July 1947 . He came to the fore during the early 60s , via the numerous talent contests organized by Vere Johns around the island at the time.  Spotted by record producer Leslie Kong, Holt recorded his first songs, “Forever I’ll stay” and  ” I cried a tear ” on the producers Beverley’s label.

Disappointed with the financial remuneration , Holt moved on and teamed up with with Alton Ellis to record the popular “Mouth a Massey Liza and ” Rum Bumper ” for Vincent Chin of Randy’s records. However John Holt was to achieve sustained prominence in his homeland as the lead singer of the group called the Paragons. This rocksteady group featured singer/songwriters Bob Andy, Tyrone Evans and Junior Menz, who was later replaced by Howard Barrett.

The group cut a succession of singles for Duke Reid at his Treasure Isle studios , with hits such as ” On the beach ” , ” The Tide is High ” and  ” Wear you to the Ball”. During his time with the Paragons he also recorded solo material for Studio One ” A love I can feel ” , ” ok Fred” and “my heart is gone ”

By 1970 Holt left the Paragons to focus on his solo career. Within two years he blossomed into one of Jamaica’s biggest reggae stars of the day and his cover of the Shep and the Limelights song ” Stick by me ” was the biggest selling record in the island in 1972 . The following year he recorded his ” Time is the master” album in London England . The success of the string laden reggae album led to a deal with Trojan Records, resulting in the Bunny Lee produced , ” 1000 Volts of Holt” in 1973. The album spawned the UK top10 hit, the Kris Kristofferson penned, ” Help me make it through the night ”

Holt’s style of delivery could have been regarded as a recognizable forerunner of the lovers rock sub genre. The demand for the reggae crooners talents ,especially in Europe , remained constant over the years. Sadly on August 16 ,this year, John fell ill while performing at the One Love Festival in London, he never recovered and eventually passed away on Sunday October 19. His ( my) heart is gone but his songs will Stick by ( me) us forever !

Ian Andrews

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