According to numerous sources, Jamaican singer and producer Sugar Minott has died at the age of 54. The cause of death has not been disclosed, although Minott had recently canceled shows in Canada after suffering from chest pains.
Minott (real name Lincoln Barrington Minott) got his start as part of the Sound Of Silence Keystone sound system spinning rocksteady and reggae tunes, then graduated to singing with The African Brothers in 1969. After releasing a series of singles in the early ‘70s, the group split, with Minott moving on to a successful solo career that was marked by his talent for crafting new songs to go over existing beats, a style that would prove to be very influential on the dancehall scene. Minott’s debut Live Loving for the Studio One label—which included songs like “Vanity” and “Mr. DC”—is considered a pioneering dancehall album.
But Minott had a hand in several different pioneering genres, also scoring hits with more traditionally roots-reggae songs like “Hard Time Pressure” and experimenting with the romantic sounds of “lovers rock” to great success in the UK, where he eventually relocated. Minott’s biggest hit was a 1981 cover of Michael Jackson’s “Good Thing Going,” which led to an album of the same name on RCA. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Minott steadily released records on his own Black Roots and Youth Promotion labels, nurturing new talent and releasing early works by the likes of Nitty Gritty and Junior Reid. Minott’s last solo album was 1999’s Easy Squeeze, although his website promises that a new album, titled New Day, will be released on July 21.