Tyrone Taylor

Tyrone Taylor (1954 – 1 December 2007), singer, songwriter and record producer. He remains best known for 1983's soulful lovers rock ballad 'Cottage in Negril.'

Biography

Way to Paradise Although Jamaican singer Tyrone Taylor recorded in a series of styles and genres rooted in the Caribbean tradition, he remains best known for 1983's soulful lovers rock ballad "Cottage in Negril." Born in rural St. Elizabeth in 1957, Taylor cut his first record at just 12, lending his rich, emotive voice to the Joe Gibbs-produced "Delilah." Although the song was later issued overseas as the flip side of the Dennis Walks hit "Having a Party," Taylor was less than pleased with the end result and briefly teamed with singer Vince Brown in the Soul Menders. His initial struggles forced him to question the realities of a career in music, and he spent the next several years learning a series of instruments under local session players, chief among them the legendary guitarist Willie Lindo, who encouraged Taylor to return to singing. In 1972 he resurfaced in the Soul Twins, cutting the anthems "Don't Call Me Nigga" and "Rastafari Ruler" for producer Clancy Eccles before resuming his solo career with a series of little-noticed singles including "Fight It Blackman." Taylor first earned significant attention and airplay in 1975 under the wing of producer Jack Ruby, scoring a series of well-received hits including "Life Table" and "I'd Like to Know." With 1977's Niney the Observer-produced "Sufferation," he scored his biggest and most memorable single to date, earning a special King Tubby remix in the process. After a series of middling follow-ups, including "Can't Stop Rastaman Now," a reggae rewrite of the McFadden & Whitehead disco classic "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," Taylor self-produced "Cottage in Negril" in 1981. Inspired by both a failed romance and the recent rise to power of the conservative Labor party, complete with the sounds of cocaine snorts between verses, the single slowly but surely emerged as a chart blockbuster, and two years later was picked up for international distribution by MCA. However, the follow-up single, "Pledge to the Sun," bombed, and MCA shelved a proposed LP. In the meantime, Taylor's struggles with drug addiction grew even more serious, and in the decade to follow he recorded only sporadically, generating some notice in 1987 via "Members Only" and "Be for Real." Lindo stepped in to produce 1993's full-length The Way to Paradise, widely celebrated as a return to creative form, and a year later Taylor teamed with producer Clive Hunt for the hit "Rainy Sunset." But Taylor never conquered his personal demons, eventually suffering a handful of strokes and spending the remainder of his life confined to a wheelchair; he died of prostate cancer in Kingston on December 1, 2007.

-- Courtesy (Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com) --

Jamaican singer Tyrone Taylor, who has died aged 53 of complications stemming from prostate cancer, was a versatile vocalist who recorded in a range of styles throughout his career. Although the tall and charismatic singer will forever be associated with Cottage in Negril, a sentimental, semi-autobiographical ballad that caused an international sensation in the early 1980s, his powerfully expressive voice and hard-hitting lyrics made him one of Jamaica's most popular protest singers during the late 1970s, and he was also favoured for individual renditions of foreign cover tunes.

Taylor was born in rural St Elizabeth, an underdeveloped portion of southwest Jamaica, and began recording in Kingston in his early teens, by which time his deep voice was already defined by a characteristic rasping. His debut recording, Delilah, was made in 1968 for another aspiring singer called Nehemiah Reid, who licensed it to the better established Joe Gibbs for an overseas issue. In the same year, Taylor voiced a few forlorn, soul-influenced sides for fellow vocalist Vince Brown, with whom he also formed a short-lived duo called the Soul Menders, but the material failed to impact, causing Taylor to question his choice of career.

He spent the next few years hanging out with session musicians, learning to play a number of instruments, and although he was frustrated by the lack of initial success, he was ultimately encouraged to pursue singing by guitarist Willie Lindo, a gifted arranger with whom he would later collaborate.

Taylor subsequently formed a duo called the Soul Twins with another hopeful, whose identity has not been clarified. In 1972, shortly after the socialist People's National party (PNP) came to power, a trade union leader, Derrick Rochester, brought the duo to the attention of politically active producer Clancy Eccles, whose musical bandwagons helped assure the PNP's victory. The duo cut the socially relevant Don't Call Me Nigga for the producer, as well as the spiritual Rastafari Ruler, which referred to their belief in the faith, before Taylor went solo again, recording a number of one-off singles for other producers, of which the most notable was Fight It Blackman, recorded for Sidney Crooks of the Pioneers.

In 1975, Taylor reached another level of popularity through the strong singles he recorded for producer Jack Ruby, such as the sublime Life Table and contemplative I'd Like to Know, while, in 1977, his emotive roots classic, Sufferation, recorded with Niney the Observer, became a favourite of Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. Sporadic singles followed, including a popular Rasta recasting of McFadden and Whitehead's Ain't No Stopping Us Now as Can't Stop Rastaman Now, recorded for Gibbs as a disco-reggae crossover attempt in 1980.

Cottage in Negril, a self-produced effort that Taylor wrote and recorded in 1981, referred to a problematic romantic liaison the singer experienced with an overseas visitor in the once sleepy town on Jamaica's west coast, which had become a haven for backpackers from north America and Europe. The song, which also included the sound of cocaine being snorted mid-way through its verses, also pointed to the dramatic changes reshaping Jamaican society following the traumatic 1980 general election, in which the PNP was replaced by the rightwing Jamaica Labour party. Cottage in Negril gradually found favour with overseas audiences, being picked up by major label MCA two years later, making Taylor the best-selling reggae singer of 1983 and leading to a memorable performance at the following year's Reggae Sunsplash.

Unfortunately, Taylor's follow-up single, Pledge to the Sun, was not particularly successful and the album he recorded for MCA remains unreleased. A reconnection with Lindo in 1993 yielded an album of popular cover tunes, The Way to Paradise, while the following year, producer Clive Hunt arranged Rainy Sunset, another smash hit that celebrated Negril's charm.

After struggling with substance misuse for a long time, Taylor suffered two strokes and was confined to a wheelchair earlier this year. He is survived by nine children.

Tyrone Taylor, singer, songwriter and record producer, born 1954; died December 1 2007

-- Courtesy (David Katz, TheGuardian.com) --