Millie Small, “My Boy Lollipop” singer, RIP
Jamaican star Millie Small, who gave most of the world their first taste of ska with her 1964 global hit "My Boy Lollipop," has died after suffering a stroke. She was 71. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who co-produced the song (Jamaica's first million-selling single), talked to the Jamaica Observer about Small and her influence:
“I would say she's the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record,” Blackwell told the Jamaica Observer from New York.
He recalled that Ranglin played guitar and did the arrangement on My Boy Lollipop, which became the first Jamaican song to make it on to the British and American music charts, reaching number one in Britain and number two in the United States in 1964.
“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,” said Blackwell.
In addition to "My Boy Lollipop," Millie scored Jamaican hits with "Sweet William" and "Bloodshot Eyes"; her 1970 song “Enoch Power," a response to British politician Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech, remains a powerful anti-racism protest anthem.
Rest in peace, Millie.