Reggae Singer Junior Murvin Dies at 67

11:40 PM PST 12/03/2013 by Mick Stingley
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His 1977 hit "Police and Thieves" chronicled the social upheaval of the times, notably in England, where it gained notoriety among punks and was later covered by The Clash.

Murvin Smith, known to the music world as Junior Murvin, passed away on Monday at the Port Antonio Hospital in Portland Parish, Jamaica. Murvin was a reggae artist known for his falsetto and socially conscious lyrics. He was 67 years old.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, his son, Kevin Smith, said that Murvin was admitted to the hospital last Thursday for treatment of hypertension and diabetes. There will be an inquest to determine the cause of his death.

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Murvin was born in Port Antonio Parish, Jamaica and began singing at an early age. Vocally influenced by American soul singers like Marvin Gaye, and later Al Green and Curtis Mayfield, he started performing as Junior Soul and played around his country at the dawn of the reggae era in the 1960s. He attained notoriety with the track “Police and Thieves,” written with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. His debut album, also titled Police and Thieves, was released in 1977 on Island Records. The song became a hit for Murvin as it chronicled the agitation and social upheaval of the times, notably in England where it gained notoriety among punks and was cleverly covered by The Clash on its first album.

Murvin continued to release albums though he never matched the acclaim he received for “Police and Thieves.”

Murvin is survived by five children and eight grandchildren.

Twitter: @mickstingley

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misidentified Junior Murvin as Junior Marvin, a former member of Bob Marley's band.

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