Sly and Robbie—

In tribute to singer John Holt, who died on October 20 in London, England, the Jamaica Observer presents ‘Holt a Day’, a daily feature leading up to his final farewell, which is scheduled for November 15.

FOR their 1998 album Friends, the revered drum-and-bass team of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare paid homage to the music they grew up listening, by covering songs by singers John Holt and Dobbie Dobson.

John Holt

John Holt

British singer Maxi Priest, who helped popularise the lovers’ rock sound in the United Kingdom during the late 1980s, covered Holt’s Only a Smile while Ali Campbell put his spin on Seems to me I’m Losing, originally done by Dobson.

Holt first recorded Only a Smile while he was a member of the rocksteady group, The Paragons. It was produced by Duke Reid for his Treasure Isle label.

Priest was born in London to Jamaican parents. He recalls Holt being one of his biggest influences along with Dennis Brown and Jacob Miller, Priest’s cousin.

Sly and Robbie also brought in Mick Hucknall (of Simply Red) to record Brown’s Ghetto Girl and Night Nurse, a big hit for Gregory Isaacs in the early 1980s.

Friends won the Grammy award for Best reggae Album in 1999.

— By Howard Campbell


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