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Died On This Date (October 10, 2008) Alton Ellis / Godfather Of Rocksteady

Posted by themusicsover on October 10, 2009

Alton Ellis
September 1, 1938 – October 10, 2008

Known as the “Godfather Of Rocksteady,” Alton Ellis was a Jamaican musician who took the elements of ska and slowed them down to a more relaxed beat.  It in turn, paved the way for what we now know as reggae.  A prolific singer, Ellis began his career with Eddy Perkins in the late ’50s as part of a duo, Alton & Eddy, who scored a big Jamaican hit with their “Muriel.”  In the early ’60s, he formed his group, the Flames just as ska was taking hold throughout Jamaica.  He slowed the beat down and recorded a hit song called “Rock Steady” which became the new genre’s name.  In 1967, he recorded a song called “Mad Men” that included a three-note descending horn line which became became a constant in more than 100 reggae songs to follow.  Reinterpretations of it can be heard in hip-hop songs by the likes of Tupac Shakur, KRS-One, and the Notorious B.I.G..  Ellis continued to stay active until his health began to give out in the mid 2000’s.  Diagnosed with cancer in late 2007, Alton Ellis died from it on October 10, 2008.  He was 70 years old.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number1Albums for the assist.

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