Singer Millie Small Dies Of Stroke Aged 72
Jamaican singer Millie Small is dead at the age of 72.
News of the singer’s death was confirmed by her friend and former producer Chris Blackwell.
Blackwell revealed that she had suffered a stroke.
Speaking about Millie whom he says he last saw 12 years ago, Blackwell said:
“I would say she’s the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record.
“It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world. 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 sweet person, really a sweet person. Very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special,” he added to the Jamaica Observer.
The late Millie was most famous for her hit single My Boy Lollipop, which was Jamaica’s first million-selling single.
The singer was praised for bringing the sound of ska to the UK.
Not only that she is credited for having one of the top three greatest all-time hit singles of 1964, falling just behind the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
It also featured a little-known Rod Stewart playing the harmonica in the backing track – something Millie said showed how big a star he was going to become.
Millie found international fame in the 1960s but retired from singing in 1970 as it “felt like the end of the dream”
Her song “My Boy Lollipop” was an enormous hit in 1964 and even featured in the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
Speaking about her journey into the world of music in 2016, Millie said:
“I was born Millicent Small to parents who worked on a sugar plantation and, although we didn’t know anyone in the entertainment profession, I loved singing,” she told the Daily Express.
“I was 12 years old when I entered a posh talent contest called The Vere John’s Opportunity Hour at the Palladium in Montego Bay on Jamaica’s north coast, where I sang in front of 2,000 people.
“I don’t remember what I sang, but most of it was with my eyes shut because I was so shy. I won the second prize of 30 shillings and it was the beginning of my new life as a singer.”
She went on:
“I joined Roy Panton to form a duo and we recorded our first song called We’ll Meet.
“Chris Blackwell, the boss of Island Records, heard my music and he brought me over to England to develop my singing career. I missed my parents and my brother, but they encouraged me to follow my dream.
“I arrived in London in 1963, and it felt like I was coming home, that this was where I was meant to be.
“I made a few songs, which didn’t go anywhere, and then I recorded My Boy Lollipop in 1964, which got to number two over here and number one in many parts of the world. I never had singing lessons, my voice was just something I was born with.”
“My life seemed very normal to me – even though I was only 17, I took fame in its stride. What helped was that I had a good manager in Chris, who looked after me like a father wherever I went.”
Millie welcomed her daughter in 1984.
Millie added that since her retirement
“I’ve been happy living a quiet life, sleeping and dreaming and meditating”.
“I enjoy cooking – anything with chicken, pork and fish with rice – and watching documentaries. I’ve got five beautiful cats, too,” she went on.
“I don’t miss those 60s days. I enjoyed it while it lasted and it represented a time of pure happiness but I look to the future now that I’m older and wiser.
“I love music – reggae, hip-hop, anything that’s got rhythm. And I still play My Boy Lollipop because it’s a lovely record.
“My daughter and I are very close and I’m proud of her achievements as a writer, singer and musician; it would be nice for us to sing together one day as mother and child.”