Reggae and Dancehall pioneer U-Roy has passed away at the age of 78.
The legendary DJ and musician, real name Ewart Beckford, was famous for popularizing the vocal technique of “toasting,” or conversational speech recorded over a riddim. His techniques revolutionized the sound of Jamaican music and sound system culture in the 1970s, and it was also a factor in the popularization of hip-hop thereafter. Dub records with spacey and drawn-out sound, like those of King Tubby, proved to be the perfect mode of delivery for Beckford’s style.
Beckford was the founder of the Mego-Ann record label as well as a contributor to many popular reggae albums, such as Toots & The Maytals‘ GRAMMY Award-winning True Love. His storied career saw him release hundreds of songs and influence a new generation of toasters, including Shabba Ranks, Josey Wales, Brigadier Jerry, and Charlie Chaplin.
In 2007, Bekford was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his contribution to music.
No cause of death for Ewart Beckford has been disclosed to the public at the time of writing.