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BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

NOEL 'King Sporty' Williams, the diminutive singer/producer who helped the South Florida reggae scene, died Monday evening in Miami. He was 71.

Sporty is best known as co-writer of Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier, a salute to African-American soldiers who fought in the United States Civil War.

Abdul Muhsin, his friend of 37 years, told the Jamaica Observer that Sporty died at the University of Miami Hospital at 8:15 pm.

Sporty was a staple of the reggae and pop music beat in South Florida during the 1970s. He rubbed shoulders with the region's big names including Henry Stone of TK Records and blue-eyed soul singer Bobby Caldwell (of What You Won't do For Love fame).

Sporty was married to American soul singer Betty Wright, a Miami native whose hits include Cleanup Woman and Tonight is The Night.

Born in Portland, Sporty was a pioneer of the Miami reggae scene. He first moved to South Florida in the early 1960s.

He recorded Buffalo Soldier in the late 1970s for his Konduko label. Marley's version became popular after his death in 1981.

Sporty started his career in the 1960s as a deejay at Studio One, recording a number of songs for producer Clement Dodd's label.

His best known recording was the self-produced ballad, Thinking of You, which was originally done by the Blues Busters.