Reggae legend Alton Ellis dies at 70

Musician known as 'the Godfather of rocksteady'

Reggae music pioneer Alton Ellis, who enjoyed a career revival in recent years after a string of hits in the 1960s, died Friday in London. He was 70.

Ellis died peacefully, officials at Hammersmith hospital said, adding that his family did not wish to release details. He had been hospitalized for several weeks.

In a tribute to Ellis on its Web site, Trojan Records said it mourned "the passing of a reggae legend" and that Ellis had lymphatic cancer. He collapsed during a performance in London in August.

Ellis was known as "the Godfather of rocksteady" and enjoyed a string of hits in Jamaica during the early days of reggae. At the beginning of his career, he had several hits while fronting the vocal group the Flames, including "Dance Crasher," "I'm Just a Guy" and "Sunday Coming."

He began his career in the late 1950s, before Jamaican music earned a worldwide following, and recorded for many local producers before launching his own All-tone label.

Ellis wrote the lyrics for "Duke of Earl," a 1962 hit for Gene Chandler.

Ellis moved to Canada and then to England in the 1970s as his career declined, but he returned to popularity in the past 15 years because of a rocksteady trend in Jamaica and Europe.
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