Heptones star Barry Llewellyn dies


Musician Barry Llewellyn, who co-founded groundbreaking reggae trio The Heptones, has died aged 64.

One of the definitive vocal groups of the 1960s, the band were at the forefront of the transition from ska to the slower, melodic rocksteady style.

Recorded for the legendary Studio One label, their best-known songs included Fattie Fattie and I've Got A Feeling.

Lead singer Leroy Sibbles said that Llewellyn had died of unknown causes at Kingston Public Hospital in Jamaica.

Born in the Trenchtown neighbourhood in 1947, Llewellyn attended Kingston Senior School with future reggae stalwarts such as Marcia Griffiths and Carl Dawkins.

Breakthrough hit

Another fellow-pupil was Earl Morgan, with whom he formed the Heptones in his teens. They had several line-up changes before finding Sibbles, who led the trio through their trademark harmonies.

Early recordings, including a ska adaptation of the William Tell Overture, were unsuccessful. But when Jamaican radio banned Fattie Fattie - a lascivious paean to larger women - they finally scored their breakthrough.

Their recording career stretched for over a decade.

In that time, they fell out with Studio One and signed a contract with Island Records, for whom they recorded the 1975 album Night Food, produced by reggae icon Lee "Scratch" Perry.

The Heptones reunited in the 1990s after a nearly 20-year absence, finding a receptive audience in the midst of a worldwide ska and rocksteady revival.

Llewellyn is survived by his wife, Monica, and several children. A funeral is scheduled for 4 December, reports the Jamaica Observer.

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