Rodigan's Millie moment

Entertainment

Rodigan's Millie moment

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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In 1964 when Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop exploded on the music scene in the United Kingdom, David Rodigan was among the British teens who were caught in the euphoria of a new song by a new artiste who was sharing a new type of music with the world.

The renowned radio broadcaster and Jamaican music afficianado marks Small and her iconic ska tune as a seminal moment and his official introduction to Jamaican music, a love affair that has lasted over 50 years.

“It was as simple as that,” said Rodigan in an interview with the Jamaica Observer from his London home.

“I was blown away from the first time I saw her and heard My Boy Lollipop. She appeared on the TV show Ready Set Go. This was the number one live music show on television on a Friday night, everyone was watching. All the major stars had appeared on this show... The Beatles, James Brown, The Rolling Stones... and then you heard... 'From Jamaica, West Indies, it's Millie Small with My Boy Lollipop', and there she was singing, dancing, and handing out lollipops.”

“Who is she?... I fell in love with the music, with Millie Small, and Jamaica,” said Rodigan.

Small who died on May 6 in London after a stroke, went on to reap phenomenal success with the track, topping charts on both sides of the Atlantic and Rodigan insisted that she must be credited with introducing the world to the music from Jamaica.

“Yes, it was one record. She did have other minor hits. But My Boy Lollipop was a monster hit and its impact is immeasurable. The energy of the song and her star quality were part of the reasons why the song took off in the way it did. There is a warmth to My Boy Lollipop. Her singing comes from the bottom of her heart and there is a joy that resonates. At the time the mods were the gatekeepers of music and fashion here in London, and they picked up on this and helped the song gain acceptance.”

Rodigan also noted that the technical quality of the recording arranged by guitar virtuoso Ernie Ranglin is another reason the tune is so popular even today.

“In 2009 I was playing at the Fabric Club here in London. This is a techno-based club and I was there to launch a mixed CD I was doing. When I played My Boy Lollipop the place went crazy. The young kids were singing every word... I will never forget. The way it is recorded is technically perfect. It jumps out of the speakers and you have no choice but to embrace this joyful spirit.”

Rodigan believes there is a lot present-day artistes can learn from Millie Small, whom he noted reached that height in music in the 1960s despite being a woman, black, and an immigrant.

“Discipline is critical. You can have all the talent in the world, but without discipline then it can evaporate quickly. Then there is dedication to the craft. Millie Small wore her heart on her sleeve, you see it in every performance. There is also that commitment and passion. Plus she had class, never one in a bra and knickers,” he said.

Rodigan never had the chance to meet Millie Small, as by the time he go into broadcasting in the late 1970s she had gracefully exited the music scene. But he always gives full credit to My Boy Lollipop for introducing him to Jamaican music.


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