Ewat Beckford, the reggae artist known as U-Roy, has died at 78. The dancehall star passed away at the University Hospital of the West Indies following a surgery earlier this week, The Gleanor reported. His death was confirmed by his record label this morning (Feb. 18).
“We are very sad to announce that pioneering DJ who revolutionised the sound of Jamaican music in the early seventies – Ewat Beckford aka U Roy has passed away at the age of 78 yesterday in Jamaica,” Trojan Records tweeted.
Beckford was born in Jones Town, Jamaica in 1942. When he started his career as a DJ, he adopted the stage names U-Roy and Daddy U-Roy.
Fans later added The Originator to his list of nicknames after he introduced the vocal style of “toasting” — chanting over the beats to hype up the crowd — to the world. The reggae artist later developed his own sound system, Stur Gav, in 1978 and helped advise the careers of Shabba Ranks, Tenor Saw and more.
U-Roy was also known for his music. His most popular hits include “Wake The Town” and “Wear You to the Ball”; some of his highly-praised albums were Dread In A Babylon, Natty Rebel, Rasta Ambassador and Jah Son of Africa.
In 2019, he dropped the album Rebel in Styylle, and he reportedly recorded Gold: The Man Who Invented Rap, a project slated to come out this summer.
Fortunately, The Originator received some of his flowers in 2007 when the Jamaican government presented him with the Order of Distinction. Now, he’s getting more in the wake of his passing.
“We lost one of our hero!!” Shaggy penned in his tribue to U-Roy. “A true legend in this game of dance hall/ Reggae if your a fan of sound system, then your a fan of Stur Gav sound. With such greats as Colonel Josey Whales and Charlie Chaplin, pioneers in this game … with a catalog of amazing recordings. U Roy was a master at his craft. Rest Well daddy Roy!! R.I.P. walk good.”