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John Holt's family confirm the singer died from cancer

RIP: Reggae icon John Holt

THE FAMILY of the late reggae legend John Holt, has confirmed that the singer died of cancer.

Holt's nephew, Tex exclusively told The Voice, that his uncle was ill with cancer, and passed away in the early hours of Monday morning (Oct 20).

Tex, told The Voice: "We've only known about the cancer for a few months.

The singer, who was 69 years old, was being treated at The Wellington Hospital in St John's Wood, northwest London.

Tex added: "I have so many fond memories of him enjoying life and having fun. He always looked to the bright side."

The musician is well known for writing and singing the original version of The Tide Is High in 1967 - which was later covered by Blondie, Gregory Isaacs and Atomic Kitten.

Holt’s childhood friend, and fellow Jamaican singer, Winston Francis – also known as King Cool – last spoke to Holt last week. He said to The Voice: “He told me he wasn’t very well. He said to me ‘I can only pray and keep my fingers crossed’.”

Francis added: “I feel proud to have known John. He was such a gentleman and always so dignified.”

Born on July 11 1945 in Kingston, Jamaica, Holt came to prominence as lead singer of the group The Paragons. Their hits included Ali Baba, Tonight and I See Your Face.

Holt left the band in 1970 to focus on his solo career, where his 1972 single Stick by Me went on to become the biggest selling Jamaican record of that same year.

Famed for incorporating orchestras in his live shows, his romantic love songs, and his iconic album 1,000 Volts of Holt, the Jamaican singer found favour with his powerful live performances, and is widely considered reggae royalty amongst the genre’s aficionados.

The reggae community was stunned by the news that the icon had passed away, and tributes have poured in from the international artists including Shaggy, Sean Paul and Beverley Knight.

The family are currently arranging the funeral details, and have confirmed that Holt's body will be sent to Jamaica for burial.

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