In concert at Club Amazura
Reggae music has lost one of its pioneer. The musical voice of Alton Ellis was silenced on October 11, after a long illness. Alton was one of those singers whose music was trans generational. Young and old alike can sing their favorite Alton song. One of his first and notable recording, 'Muriel,' was done in 1956 when he was recording as Alton and Eddie. He also recorded as Alton and the Flames, 'Cry Tough,' and with his sister Hortense Ellis, 'Breaking Up is Hard to Do,' and Alton and Lloyd Williams, 'Can't Stand It.' He was part of the Ska era and he was instrumental in creating the Rock Steady sound with songs such as 'Rock steady'.
Some of Alton's most notable songs, I'm Still in Love With You, were with Studio One Records, where he got started. In time he would move on to Treasure Isles Record where his work with Duke Reid help to establish Treasure Isles as the home of rock steady.
After listening to his music for many years on records, over the radio and at parties, I first saw Alton at Club Negril back in the 80's. It was a show with much anticipation but when Alton took the stage and started to sing he wasn't singing the songs that were part of his regular lineup. He wanted to sing new songs that he had recorded in England, not wanting to touch anything from his earlier musical career. Needless to say, the audience wasn't happy and he in turn was not happy because he left the stage early. The saving grace was when the DJ started to play records of the songs we associated with Alton.
That concert did not stop me from listening to Alton Ellis's music though. A party would not be complete without playing some of his music. He continued to be a favorite over the years and, I was able to see him in concert several more time, Amazura and most recently at the Westchester Reggae Fest.
Even though Alton is no longer with us, his music will continue to live. It is unfortunate though that the respect and recognition that he deserved will now be given in death where is unable to feel and appreciate it.
Mi deh yah now!
MORECULTURE.COM COPYRIGHT 2003 J. MCFARQUHAR
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