Lloyd Charmers

Lloyd Winston Tyrell, a man who became widely known as Lloyd Charmers, was a profound talent, who as a performer, songwriter and producer left an indelible mark upon Jamaica's music industry.


Lloyd was  born on 18th April 1946 and raised in Trench Town, Kingston, where he quickly demonstrated an aptitude for music. At the age of just 15 he was performing with friend and singer, Roy Wilson as the Sweet Charmers (later shortened to 'the Charmers'), with the pair embarking on a recording career after impressing at local talent shows. Singles for a number of producers, including Duke Reid, Coxson Dodd, Prince Buster, King Edwards and Byron Lee and ensued, as awella s appearance at the New York World's Fair in 1964, but two years later the partnership ended and Lloyd joined Alton Elis' backing group, 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'. His versatility and wide vocal range also led to him performing incognito on other recordings at Treasure Isle, a role he would continue to play at various other studios over the ensuing years.


In 1967, he became a regular member of the Uniques vocal group led by Keith 'Slim' Smith and usually featuring Martin 'Jimmy' Riley on harmonies. A succession of top selling 45s followed, initially for Bunny Lee, and later for Winston Lowe's Tramp label, with Lloyd assuming the role of producer for these sessions. In addition, he also occasionally recorded away from the group, cutting rock steady singles for Dodd and Reid, as well as the best-selling 'Bang Bang Lulu' for Lynford Anderson. In addition, his talents as a keyboard player were increasingly called upon, with noted group, the Hippy Boys more often than not providing musical support, with their most successful collaboration being the Jamaican chart-topper, 'Zylon'.


Following the break-up of the Uniques early in 1969, Lloyd launched his own Splash imprint, promptly establishing himself as one of the most talented new producers on the local music scene. Early in 1970, the risqu?? humour that had first been apparent on 'Bang Bang Lulu' surfaced once more with the extremely popular 'Birth Control',the rhythm of which was revived nibe years later by British ska group, the Specials on their UK hit, 'Too Much Too Young'. Back at the start of the decade, the success of Lloyd's original led to further near the knuckle recordings, usually credited as Lloydie & the Lowbites, culminating with two 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 continued to regularly contribute 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, Lloyd's love of vintage R&B, soul, pop and country became increasingly evident with superior reggae interpretations of US and UK hits, with his most notable success being his production of Ken Boothe's 'Everything I Own',a song first popularised by US West Coast group, Bread. Boothe's version topped charts in Britain and elsewhere in the world In the autumn of 1974, with the follow-up, Lloyd's own compisition, 'Crying Over You', climbing to number 11 early the following year.


Away from his collaborations with Boothe, the mid-to-late seventies Lloyd productions for a handful of supremely gifted Jamaican artists, with his most notable works from this period including Bob Andy's sublime hits single,'Fire Burning', Dadawah's haunting album, 'Peace And Love' and a seriesof superior 7' singles by Marcia Griffiths that were gathered on her the best-selling LP, 'Sweet Bitter Love'. He was also responsible for returning Delroy Wilson to the top of the reggae charts on a number of impressive sides, which included the best-selling 'Sarge' collection, with other major triumphs being his own 1977 hit, 'R.O.CK.'.


In the late seventies, Lloyd permanently relocated to the UK, where he quickly launched the Sarge label, continuing to produce well into the eighties, recording in a variety of styles, although it is his retrospective-sounding 'Sweet Memories' LPs and lovers rock work with Janet Kay and Sylvia Tella that proved the most successful during this time.


Over time, Lloyd's output gradually diminished, although he never completely gave up on making music. On 27th December 2012,he suffered a massive heart attack while at the wheel of his car in east London and was tragically pronounced dead upon his arrival at Homerton Hospital.


Lloyd was a true gentleman. Extremely personable and self-effacing, his talents were accompanied by a great intellect and considerable wit. Perhaps one day the extent of his contribution to the development and success of the Jamaican music industry will receive the merit that duly warrants.


LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSETT


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