Reggae toaster U-Roy has died, aged 78

UB40 and Mad Professor pay tribute to "the originator"

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Reggae vocalist and DJ U-Roy has died in Jamaica, aged 78. No cause of death has been disclosed.

Born Ewart Beckford in Kingston, U-Roy rose to prominence in the late 1960s with King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi soundsystem. He became known as “the originator” for ‘toasting’ over dub versions of records, a style that proved influential on the development of both reggae and of hip-hop in New York.

His 1975 album Dread In A Babylon was picked up by Virgin Records, winning him a cult audience in the UK.


In later years, U-Roy worked regularly with British reggae producer Mad Professor. His final album – produced by Youth with guest appearances from Mick Jones and Ziggy Marley – is due for release later this year.

“A very sad moment of transition for the man who inspired [my label] Ariwa,” wrote Mad Professor on Twitter. “Without him, there would be no Ariwa. From I was 15 when I heard Version Galore I wanted to work with U-Roy.”

UB40’s Ali Campbell said: “A true inspiration pathing the way for many generations and creating a sound that will live forever!”


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