Roy Shirley


Reggae Mourns The Passing Of A Legend

by reggaewire | July 24, 2008

Last week, Reggae legend and musical High Priest, Roy Shirley, passed away at his home in Thamesmeade, England at the age of 64.

King Roy Shirley as he was fondly called, was known for his colourful suits, animated stage presentation, and unique delivery that will surely keep his legacy alive within the annals of Reggae music history.

Roy Shirley emerged from a heavy religious upbringing in Trench Town, Jamaica to become a household name island wide in the early 60's.

During this time he recorded a number of singles for Beverley's' Recording before becoming a member of the original trio, The Uniques, alongside Slim Smith and Franklin White.

The group experienced a brief moment of success but disbanded in the mid sixties, leaving Shirley singing solo until he found his first chart topping monster hit with Joe Gibbs entitled “Hold Them”, in 1967. r.

Roy Shirley continued his musical trek of the local and international scene with solid singles, and spawned a few hits in the process whilst working alongside many of Reggaes' pioneer producers such as, Sir JJ, the immortal Caltone, and Bunny “Striker” Lee, with whom he found musical magic for a number of years.

His growing popularity in the late 60's led to international appearances at world renowned venues including the Apollo Theater in 1971 and the Madison Square Garden in 1972.

By the mid 70's, Roy Shirley had conquered Europe and the UK.

Soon his restless spirit found a second home in Britain amongst the West Indian community, where he continued to serve up his unique blend of Reggae music on and off until the late 80's when Roy Shirley decided to share his musical legacy, becoming an active philanthropist and an integral part of talent development in Britain, eventually founding the British Universal Talent Development Association (BUTDA) which still provides opportunities for young brits of all races to hone their artistic talents.

Shortly after, Roy Shirley experienced another resurgence in his musical career, and quickly re-established himself as a staple headliner on a myriad of local and international Reggae vintage concerts in the mid 90's.

By the turn of the millennium the musical high priest shifted his focus to re-igniting his career, initiated by a slew of recordings, a number of reissues by Trojan records, compilations and independent albums.

His 2005 independent full length release, “Nice up The City” became the first of a three part musical project including “Nice Up The Music” and the final “Love Is Forever”.

Up until the time of his death, Roy Shirley was in the process of completing his fourth album aptly entitled “Reggae Sweet Them Now”, in addition to putting the finishing touches to his final world tour which was slated to kick off sometime later this year.

His death has resonated throughout the Reggae fraternity worldwide.

Fans, friends, and industry officials have overwhelmed his surviving family members with condolences from as far as Peru, Japan and Australia to name a few distant places where his music has touched the heart of the people.

Trojan Records, now owned by Universal Records issued a statement from its website in remembrance of this musical mastermind :-"Truly unique, Roy was not only one of the true greats of Jamaican music's first golden age, but also a gentleman in every sense of the word, and he will be sadly missed by all those who knew him, either personally or through his music,"

Funeral and memorial arrangements will be announced.

Reggae Loses Another Legend.

View A Short Documentary Excerpt Ft Roy Shirley


The Reggae News Agency |


Roy Shirley - Music Is The Key - Trojan - 2CD

Roy's never had the massive kind of hits enjoyed by others - but he's still a massive talent, he's still contributing, he's still got a great voice and can write great songs. This Double CD package brings together many of Roy's own productions released on the Public label also owned by Roy. Another big contributor production wise on this set is Bunny Lee - who's hits with Roy are some of most important tunes in the reggae music era. Also present is producer Joe Gibbs who's 'Hold Them' is one of Roy's biggest hits. Most of the tunes on Disc one come from the Rock Steady Reggae era's. On Disc Two we move into the Roots and it is in this era that Roy scored big again. 'Jamaican Girls' and 'A Sugar' two tunes that provide all you really need to know about his singing and songwriting style. Hopefully this CD will give Roy a real boost - all his many many fans all over the world will want to have this essential CD in their collection.

Roy Shirley - Nice Up The City - King Roy Shirley - Cd A massive 19 track selection from the man with one of the most distinctive voices in reggae music. Recorded over the last four years in the UK - it brings together some of Roy's most loved themes. Roy loves to sing about love and unity in all its many concepts, and even when the man starts to move into areas like his love of music - he's got something to say. This a great self produced set by Roy that he should be proud of. It would be good to know who's playing that guitar on most of the tracks and who rest of the players of instruments are- but that's just a minor quibble.


Roy Shirley - Your Musical Priest - Westside

Classic Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae 1966-72

Some reggae artists always have a lot of music out at any one time, others you would really have to search for. Roy Shirley is of course in the latter category. His fans in the UK and US (and they are legion) have waited for many years for a compilation like this! 18 tracks with everything you could ever want from the man and more. Taking in his productions from Joe Gibbs, Bunny Lee and himself. With excellent sleevenotes which is the case on the Westside reggae releases and superb sound quality - this CD takes the music forward by presenting to the people a true musical legend.