Millie Small, the singer of the 1964 hit “My Boy Lollipop,” has died at age 72.
According to a statement from Island Records, the Jamaican national passed away after suffering a stroke.
“My Boy Lollipop” is widely considered the first reggae-inspired global hit and featured Small’s childlike vocals and a rhythmic bounce that is in the style of reggae. It reached No. 2 in both the United States and England in ‘64 and was the first major hit for Island Records.
Chris Blackwell, Island’s founder and producer of the hit issued a statement regarding Small’s death. “Millie opened the door for Jamaican music to the world,” Blackwell said in a statement Wednesday, according to Variety. “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 really sweet person, very funny, great sense of humor. She was really special.”
After “My Boy Lollipop”, Small made her acting debut in a television special, “The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown.” While she continued to tour and record throughout the ‘60s, Small produced only minor hits. In 1970, however, she released a song called “Enoch Power,” which criticized British politician Enoch Powell’s anti-immigration comments. She would retire from music shortly after.
Millie Small is survived by her daughter Jaelee, a singer based in London.
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