John Holt. Is dead, The Veteran Singer died at age 67 pt1


His voice has been associated with some of the sweetest songs to have been produced in Jamaica, and perhaps not enough has been said of the greatness of his songwriting skills. As a performer he stood head and shoulders above the great majority of Jamaican vocalist with a career spanning more than 50 years.


He made his entry into the Jamaican music world via the (then) popular Vere Johns Opportunity talent contest in 1958 and went on to win this series multiple times, notching an astonishing 28 titles among all singing contests he entered over a four-year period. His voice would become familiar to a broader island audience as these contest finals were broadcast on Radio Jamaica. For his final victory in 1962, Holt performed the Solomon Burke classic Just out of reach. The win resulted in his picture being published in the newspaper from which producer Leslie Kong was able to track him down. Kong negotiated a contract with Holt's mother, as he was under age, and through this Holt would write and record his first single, Forever I'll Stay, which went to #1 on the RJR charts and for which Kong paid him £33. He later released a second single with Kong's Beverley's label, I cried a tear.

From there Holt went to work with producer Clive Chin for whom he recorded Rum Bumper, a duet with Alton Ellis. It was this connection which greatly assisted his music as Ellis taught him to play the guitar. The period was relatively uneventful as his output failed to get much attention. This changed in 1964 when he was invited to join the vocal group the Paragons after the migration of two of the group's early members. The group was completed by veteran members Bob Andy, Howard Barrett and Tyrone Evans. They recorded Good luck and goodbye for Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd. Immediately after the single was released the membership of the group changed. Holt was entrusted with the dual role of composer and arranger, positions for which he turned out to be ideally suited. And the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
The ska era was winding down and the more easy-paced rocksteady beat had steadily risen to take its place. Its slower tempo was perfect for vocal groups and Holt's writing seemed especially cut for the easy oing beat and pop flavour that the style embraced. The group soon linked with Duke "The Trojan" Reid, the legendary producer at Treasure Isle Records, through RJR's Desmond Chambers.

From there Holt went to work with producer Clive Chin for whom he recorded Rum Bumper, a duet with Alton Ellis. It was this connection which greatly assisted his music as Ellis taught him to play the guitar. The period was relatively uneventful as his output failed to get much attention. This changed in 1964 when he was invited to join the vocal group the Paragons after the migration of two of the group's early members. The group was completed by veteran members Bob Andy, Howard Barrett and Tyrone Evans. They recorded Good luck and goodbye for Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd. Immediately after the single was released the membership of the group changed. Holt was entrusted with the dual role of composer and arranger, positions for which he turned out to be ideally suited. And the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The ska era was winding down and the more easy-paced rocksteady beat had steadily risen to take its place. Its slower tempo was perfect for vocal groups and Holt's writing seemed especially cut for the easy oing beat and pop flavour that the style embraced. The group soon linked with Duke "The Trojan" Reid, the legendary producer at Treasure Isle Records, through RJR's Desmond Chambers.

Despite his membership with the Paragons, Holt continued to record for other producers and stated that at one time he was referred to by Coxsone as one "who prostituted his voice to any producer who would pay him". Despite the criticism, Holt released some seminal work including these two singles with Joya Landis I'll be lonely and Maybe someday, as well as the big Treasure Isle hit Ali Baba.

John Holt. Is dead, The Veteran Singer died at age 67 pt2

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