Jamaican singer Millie Small has died this week at the age of 73. She had suffered a stroke, according to her friend and former producer Chris Blackwell.
Millie was most famous for her hit single My Boy Lollipop, which was Jamaica’s first million-selling single. She was hailed for bringing the sound of ska to the UK and for having one of the top three greatest all-time hit singles of 1964, falling just behind the Beatles and Rolling Stones. It also featured a little-known Rod Stewart playing the harmonica in the backing track – something Millie said showed how big a star he was going to become.
She retired from singing in 1970, “because it was the end of the dream and it felt like the right time”, and in 1984 she welcomed her daughter.
Millie added that since her retirement “I’ve been happy living a quiet life, sleeping and dreaming and meditating”.
“I enjoy cooking – anything with chicken, pork and fish with rice – and watching documentaries. I’ve got five beautiful cats, too,” she went on. Chris said of Millie, who he last saw 12 years ago: “I would say she’s the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record.