My Boy Lollipop singer Millie Small dies aged 72

May 06, 2020

Tributes are being paid to Jamaican singer Millie Small, most famous for her 1960s hit My Boy Lollipop, who has died at the age of 72.

She died in the UK after a suffering a stroke, according to reports.

Chris Blackwell, producer and founder of Island Records, described the singer as "the person who took ska international".

My Boy Lollipop reached number two in the charts in both the UK and US in 1964, and became Jamaica's first million-selling single, according to the National Library of Jamaica. It went on to sell seven million copies worldwide.

In a statement, Island Records said Small was one of the label's "most beloved and celebrated artists".

Paying tribute, Blackwell said: "Millie opened the door for Jamaican music to the world. It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world.

"I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it.

"She was such a really sweet person, very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special."

Born Millicent Dolly May Small in Clarendon, Jamaica, Small was raised on a sugar plantation and the youngest of a family of 12.

At the age of 12 she won a singing contest in Montego Bay, leading her to team up with reggae singer Roy Panton to form the duo Roy & Millie.

Blackwell heard one of Small's local hits and started to work with her, taking her to the UK in 1963 after founding Island Records.

He decided she should cover the American rhythm and blues song, My Boy Lollipop, originally performed by Barbie Gaye in 1957, and it went on to become a huge hit.

Tributes are being paid to the singer on social media, with everyone from ska orchestras to football clubs remembering Small and her music.

She is survived by her daughter, Jaelee.

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