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*Unfortunately, we have to report that singer Millie Small, who recorded the 1964 hit single “My Boy Lollipop,” passed away this week after suffering a stroke. She was 73.
“Millie opened the door for Jamaican music to the world. It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world,” said Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who co-produced the song. “I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it. She was such a really sweet person, very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special.”
“My Boy Lollipop” became a huge hit and sold over six million records, taking ska to a worldwide audience. Regarding that, here’s what Blackwell told the Jamaica Observer:
“I would say she’s the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record.”
Small was born to parents who worked on a sugar plantation and entered a talent contest named “The Vere John’s Opportunity Hour” in Jamaica at the age of 12.
No, she didn’t win, but came second before forming a duo with reggae artist Roy Panton, with the pair recording the song “We’ll Meet.”
It was around then that Blackwell helped Small to further her singing career, with the songwriter traveling to London in 1963.
By that time she recorded “My Boy Lollipop” which became number two in the UK and number one in other parts of the world.
“My Boy Lollipop” reached number 2 in the UK and US singles charts and sold over 7 million copies around the world.
She is survived by her beloved daughter Jaelee who Small devoted her life to when she was born in 1984.
Millie Small was a true original, a wonderful human being and will be dearly missed by everyone.
Her other hits were “Bloodshot Eyes,” “Sweet William” and “Oh Henry.”