KINGSTON, Jamaica – Sugar Minott, the honey-voiced singer, soundman, promoter and producer has died, aged only 54. He passed away on Saturday 10th at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston after a short illness. His wife Maxine Stowe has not yet disclosed the cause of death though two months ago Sugar had cancelled a tour in Canada after suffering chest pains. This is exceptionally sad news for all lovers of Jamaican music and sympathies and tributes are sent out from around the world...
After several years in the African Brothers vocal trio, Lincoln 'Bugga' Minott started out doing fine solo roots sides in 1975 for Studio 1 and recorded two classic lps for Dodd before quickly going into self-production by 1979. A fine string of albums were released throughout the 1980s, both self-produced and for a variety of other labels, as well as a constant string of 45s. He, alongside man like Barrington Levi and Half Pint, helped define the dancehall vocal styles to come. His early 80s work with UK producers like Dennis Bovell was highly influential in developing the honey-sweet, ultra smooth brand that was UK lover's rock and his rich voice was perfect for such balladry. Some wicked tunes were recorded in the US at Bulwackies also. While Sugar took on all styles, he continued to publish fine roots sides throughout his career, tackling problems of injustice, poverty and violence, though he always maintained a balance of themes on albums.
Sugar's promotion and productions made important contributions to the reggae industry, particularly in the mid-80s. His Black Roots label and Youth Promotion sound system were used to nurture and showcase young talent. Man like Junior Reid, Little John, Michael Palmer, Captain Sinbad, Echo Minott, Barry Brown, Triston Palmer, Tenor Saw and Bimbo all got the opportunity to record and perform alongside more established names. Many went on to have successful careers though Sugar has expressed frustration with business aspects in interviews.
He was always at his highest element as a live performer, however, and I was privileged to see him in action several times, most recently in December 2009 up in Edinburgh, Scotland where he gave a fine, lively performance - the freshest I'd seen him in years. We were treated to hits from across the years in the full spectrum of musical styles. Hit song like Buy Up The Bar, Tune In, Ole King Cole, Mr. DC, A House Is Not A Home, People Got To Know, Easy Squeeze, Lover's Rock, Vanity, African Girl, No Vacancy, Feel The Rydim, Dancehall Stylee and the MASSIVE Good Thing Going and Herbman Hustling... and many more. He always had a great instinct for the crowd and got everyone rocking from the 1st note. It felt like he could go on singing all night though time was limited due to it being a Sunday night. TOP RANKING entertainment from one of my all-time favorite singers... Now he's gone, who gonna nice it up, nice it up?
-THANKS AND MAXIMUM RESPECT SUGAR-
Sugar's last album - A New Day - is pure NICENESS!!!
Hear it at www.sugarminott.com