The Jamaicans’ Martin Williams is dead
Tribute To The Greats 2017 recipient Martin Williams (left), founding member of The Jamaicans performs, with former group member Tommy Cowan. (Photo: Jerry Small)

Martin Williams, a member of 1967 Festival Song Contest winners The Jamaicans, died May 24 in New York City at age 85. His wife, Jean Williams, said he passed away at the Montefiore Hospital in The Bronx.

Williams was a founding member of the group which was initially known as The Mericoles. The original lineup formed in 1964 and comprised Errol Kong (later known as I Kong), Norris Weir and Keith Brown; Tommy Cowan joined later.

Prior to The Mericoles/The Jamaicans, the Matthews Lane-raised Williams performed in the duo Martin and Derrick. Their songs included Times Are Going.

His biggest success came with The Melodians which recorded mainly for producer Arthur “Duke” Reid’s Treasure Isle label. Their hits came on rock steady songs like Things You Say You Love and Ba Ba Boom. The latter won the second Festival Song Contest and remains one of that competition’s popular winners.

Weir died in 2018 in Florida at age 72.

The Jamaicans split up in 1972, though Kong (who left in 1967), Weir and Cowan maintained visible roles in the music business as artistes or producers.

Martin Williams migrated to the United States five years ago. He is survived by Jean, his wife of 61 years, seven children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Martin Williams (second right) in 1964 with The Merricoles (from left) Jerry Brown, Norris Weir, Tommy Cowan and Errol Kong (far right).
Howard Campbell

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy