John Holt, pioneering reggae solo artist and former lead singer of The Paragons, has died at the age of 69. “John died at 2.40am English time. [John's] nephew informed of his death,” his manager, Copeland Forbes, told the Jamaica Observer.
John Holt has been one of the pillars of reggae ever since he won his first prestigious talent show at the age of twelve, in 1958, in Jamaica. Talent shows were hugely popular in Jamaica at the time and unearthed many future stars. The shows were often featured on Jamaican national TV and radio. Holt notching up a record-breaking 28 titles, and it was these performances that sealed his first recording contract with producer Leslie Kong in 1962, who recorded Holt’s debut single, “Forever I’ll Stay”/”I Cried a Tear”.
It was when Holt joined The Paragons in 1964 that his career really took off. Not long after Holt had joined, veteran band member Bob Andy quit the group. Holt was entrusted with the responsibility of composer and arranger. Roles which he had been born to fulfill. By 1968, the Paragons were Jamaica’s premier vocal group, with virtually every one of their releases a hit. By this stage, Holt had already begun a parallel solo career. A career which went into overdrive when The Paragons split in 1970. Holt went on to releasing an astonishing 37 solo albums, and whilst living Holt was elevated to iconic status in his native Jamaica.
Here is a brief sample of John Holt’s work which spanned all off five decades: