Jamaican music legend, Lloyd 'Charmers' Tyrell has passed away after suffering a massive heart attack while at the wheel of his car in London.
Lloyd was born on 18th April 1946 and raised in Trench Town, Kingston, where he quickly showed an aptitude for music. He began his singing career aged just 15, forming 'the Sweet Charmers' (later shortened to 'the Charmers') with friend and singer, Roy Wilson. After impressing at local talent shows, the pair embarked on a recording career, cutting popular singles for a number of producers, including Duke Reid, Coxson Dodd, Prince Buster, King Edwards and Byron Lee, but by 1966 the partnership had run its course and Lloyd joined Alton Ellis' backing groups, the Flames, with his wide vocal range contributing to the popularity of such memorable numbers as 'Cry Tough', 'Girl I've Got A Date', 'Rock Steady' and 'Duke Of Earl'.
In 1967, he joined Keith 'Slim' Smith and Martin Jimmy Riley in the Uniques, a vocal group with whom he cut a succession of top selling 45s, initially for Bunny Lee, and later for Winston Lowe's Tramp label, with Lloyd assuming the role of producer of the latter's releases. In addition to his work with the Uniques, he also occasionally recorded solo work, cutting Rock Steady singles for Dodd and Reid, as well as the best-selling'Bang Bang Lulu' for Lynford Anderson.
Early in 1969, after the break-up of the Uniques, Lloyd launched his own Splash imprint, promptly establishing himself as one of the most talented new producers on the local music scene.
Aside from his vocal recordings, his talents as a keyboard player were increasingly demonstrated, most notably on his work with the Hippy Boys, with whom he cut a series of popular 45s, the most successful of which was the Jamaican chart-topper, 'Zylon'.
In 1970, the risqué humour first made apparent on 'Bang Bang Lulu' from two years earlier was reintroduced with the extremely popular 'Birth Control', the rhythm of which was later revived by British Ska group, the Specials on their 1979 hit, 'Too Much Too Young'. The success of the record led to further recordings in the style, credited as Lloydie & the Lowbites, climaxing with the best-selling collection, 'Censored!' and the aptly-titled 1973 follow-up, 'Censored! Volume 2'.
As well as his own recordings and productions for artists such as Bruce Ruffin, Busty Brown, Bobby Davis and Bob Andy, Lloyd also regularly contributed to recordings by other local producers, including Niney, whom he backed on a number of singles, including the 1971 hit, 'Blood And Fire'.
As the seventies progressed, meanwhile, Lloyd's love of vintage R&B, Soul, Pop and Country became increasingly evident with superior versions of US and UK hits, including his production of Bread's 'Everything I Own' by Ken Boothe, which topped charts in the UK and elsewhere in the world in the autumn of 1974. The Charmers-Boothe combination subsequently produced another big seller with the original composition. 'Crying Over You', while follow-up singles and subsequent albums from the pair were equally as impressive.
Other mid-to-late seventies works of note included Bob Andy's sublime hits single, 'Fire Burning', Dadawah's ground-breaking album, 'Peace And Love', a number of superior 7" singles by Marcia Griffiths, which culminated in the best-selling 'Play Me Sweet And Nice' (aka 'Sweet Bitter Love') LP and Delroy Wilson's 'Sarge' collection, as well as a number of his own 45s, notably the 1977 hit, 'R.O.C.K.'.
In the late seventies, Lloyd relocated permanently in the UK, where he continued to produce well into the eighties, experimenting with a range of styles, ranging from Lovers Rock to Disco, but over time, his output gradually diminished, although he never ceased making music entirely.
His sudden passing, on Thursday 27th December came as a complete shock to all who knew him, with friends and family commenting that he had previously shown no apparent signs of ill health. After the attack on Thursday, he was taken to the Homerton Hospital in east London, but tragically was pronounced dead on arrival.
Lloyd was a true giant of a man. Extremely personable, highly intelligent and possessing a great wit, at the time of his passing he had been in the process of penning his autobiography, which given his incredible knowledge and keen memory would surely have set a benchmark for works on the history of the Jamaican music industry.
He will be deeply missed by all those fortunate to have spent time in his company, along with all those familiar with him through his work as one of the most talented singer-song writer-producers Jamaica has ever produced.
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