HEAVY LOSS: Winston Francis, Lloyd Charmers (centre) and Count Prince Miller
WELL-KNOWN Jamaican singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, Lloyd Charmers, died in London last week following a suspected heart attack.
Charmers was driving himself to hospital on Thursday, December 27 after reportedly feeling unwell earlier in the day but was unable to complete the trip.
An ambulance rushed him to an East London hospital where he was pronounced dead before doctors could assist him.
Charmers, who was a member of the original singing group, The Uniques, which included Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley, was also well known for producing a string of hits for a number of Jamaican singers, including Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, The Heptones, John Holt, Johnny Nash, Pluto Shervington and Roy Shirley.
On hearing the news of his passing, reggae singer King Sounds said this was a massive blow to the music fraternity.
"Personally, this is a heavy loss as Lloyd Charmers was responsible for my musical success, having produced my hit record I Shall Sing, which spent 37 weeks in the charts in Jamaica. I was the only UK-based artiste who had 11 hit records in Jamaica and Lloyd Charmers produced most of them.
"He also produced hit records and launched careers for a host of UK-based artistes including Sylvia Tella, Janet Kay The Blackstones and Liz Mitchell from Boney M. Charmers was a very important person who put reggae firmly on the map in Jamaica and the UK," King Sounds said.
Another entertainer, Count Prince Miller, who knew Charmers from the days of ska, rocksteady and reggae, said news of his death was like the passing of a close relative.
"I knew Lloyd from the original group 'The Charmers', which included his brother Teddy, and I was with a group called the 'Downbeats', and along with another group called the 'Blues Brothers', we were the top singing groups in Jamaica at the time. We used to play on the circuit back in the '60s when the music of the era was American Blues. Lloyd was a top performer, both as a singer and dancer.
"When we both came to the UK, that bond continued as he moved into record producing. He was also involved with my hit song Mule Train in 1971, when he was one of the musicians in the recording session. We kept in touch and I was with him only three weeks ago at Willesden Library when saxophonist Lascelles James hosted a cultural event and I introduced Lloyd to the audience. We have lost a great music talent," Count Prince Miller said.
Also reeling from the sad news of the passing of Lloyd Charmers is singer Winston 'Mr Fix It' Francis, who said he is still stunned.
"I was only speaking Wednesday to another entertainer, Lloyd 'Stamper' King, and we reflected that one of the most decent guys who came out of the music business in Jamaica is Lloyd Charmers. We both agreed he is a true gentleman. It was later on Thursday I heard of his passing.
"My only disappointment is that a trooper like Lloyd Charmers was not recognised with a national honour by Jamaica, as he was one of the main people who helped to spread Jamaican music in the UK and Europe, making it the world music it is today. People like Rupie Edwards, Owen Gray and Lloyd Charmers are the forgotten ones, and they have given so much energy and love to promote Jamaican music," Francis said.
Reflecting on his days of working with Charmers in Jamaica, Francis said it was always fun touring with groups like The Uniques, The Gaylets, The Sheridans, Carlos Malcolm's band and Justin Hinds and the Dominoes.
"Lloyd Charmers was always the life of the party on the touring circuit. A very down-to-earth person," Francis said.
While he made his name in England, Charmers also came from a long line of Jamaican record producers who charted many Jamaican hits locally and internationally in the '60s and '70s.
Among those were Studio One supremo Clement 'Coxson' Dodd, Bunny 'Striker' Lee, Harry 'Harry J' Johnson, and Sonia Pottinger.