Alton Ellis Auditiorium coming

By Basil Walters Observer writer waltersb@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 09, 2012

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IT is often said that music is to Trench Town what acting is to Hollywood. So, it is only fitting that a cultural facility will be named in honour of one the community's great sons, singer Alton Ellis.


This was announced Wednesday by Colin Weise, a representative of the Trench Town Development Association (TTDA).


Weise says the main hall of the recently constructed Trench Town Multi-Purpose Building is to be dedicated to Ellis who died in 2008.


He made the announcement during the opening of JaMIN Recording Studio on 5th Street in Trench Town.


"Before this building was being built, on the day the ground was being broken, it was the same morning that Alton Ellis died. As soon as the building is fully finished, we will be dedicating this hall to be appropriately named the Alton Ellis Auditorium," Weise said to loud applause from the large gathering.


An innovator of the rock steady era of the 1960s, Alton Ellis is referred to as the 'Godfather of Rock Steady'.


He was the older brother of singer Hortense Ellis, who also had several hit songs in the rock steady period.


Ellis attended Ebenezer and Boys' Town schools, and initially sought fame as a dancer, competing on the popular Vere Johns Opportunity Hour. He switched to singing, starting his career in 1959 as part of the duo Alton and Eddy with Eddy Perkins. They recorded at Studio One for producer Clement 'Coxson' Dodd, scoring a massive hit with Muriel, their first recording.


Ellis ruled the Jamaican hit parade for most of the 1960s. Dancecrasher, Willow Tree, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, I'm Just a Guy and Sunday Coming were some of his many hits.


Ellis, who was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2004, died at age 70 on October 10, 2008 of lymphatic cancer at Hammersmith Hospital in London.


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