It comes with great sorrow that I spread the news of the passing of Alton Ellis, affectionately known as Mr. Soul of Jamaica. The world was given this treasure in 1944 when he was born in Trenchtown, Kingston, JA. His career spanned nearly five decades and his ever-lasting impression on the future of Jamaican music came in the mid- to late-sixties as the riddim-laden grooves filled with his soulful melodies permeated the upbeat vibrations of the ska era. The summer of ’66 saw the explosion of rocksteady in the Kingston scene and Alton ruled the dancehalls during this time as he cuts tunes for Studio One and Treasure Isle among others. His musical longevity persisted for years and years and he enjoyed much-deserved praise from a new generation of listeners as ska and rocksteady made a revival in the late nineties. Among them was myself, who had goosebumps on my skin when hearing his voice for the first time around the age of 16. Over time, I became exposed to more and more of his tunes, none of which ever left me without my heart beating at a faster pace or a tear in my eye from the passionate sounds coming out of my hi-fi. His sound truly made a lifelong impression on me and he will forever be missed in my heart. Alton…your music was there with me during the joy-filled times in my life and it was also there during those dark, lonely times. We’ll sit under the willow tree together with Phyllis one day and I’ll tell you all about it.
Alton Neamiah Ellis, Order of Distinction 1944 – 2008