Dennis Alcapone salutes U RoyFriday, February 19, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Dennis Alcapone has lost several close colleagues in the music business in recent years including Alton Ellis and Gregory Isaacs, but the death of his mentor U Roy is a major body blow.
“The greatest deejay has passed on and it's not a good feeling,” said Alcapone in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, from London.
U Roy, one of the most influential artistes in reggae history, died Wednesday at the University of the West Indies. He was 79 years old.
Jones Town-born U Roy and Alcapone, who is from Clarendon, were contemporaries whose careers started on sound systems during the late 1960s. Their recording careers also began with producer Keith Hudson.
Both artistes' careers exploded in the early 1970s, a time when the deejay was best known in sound system circles. Alcapone recalls U Roy being in his element live.
“When mi used to listen to him on King Tubby soun', it used to blow my mind. U Roy was in a class by himself,” he said.
The duo last performed together in 2011 when U Roy visited the United Kingdom for shows in London and Birmingham.
Born Ewart Beckford, U Roy's style of toasting erupted in 1970 with hits like Tom Drunk (with Hopeton Lewis) for producer Arthur “Duke” Reid's Treasure Isle label. He had more hits for Reid, adding his vocals to Alton Ellis' Girl I've Got A Date and The Paragons' Wear You to The Ball.
On Girl I've Got A Date, U Roy delivered what became his signature 'Wake the town and tell the people' cry. He was founder and guardian of the Stur Gav sound system which was a force during the 1980s when it launched the careers of deejays Early B, Charlie Chaplin and Josey Wales and selector Inspector Willie.
U Roy was awarded the Order of Distinction by Jamaica's Government in 2007, for his contribution to the country's music.
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