U Roy, One of The Founding Fathers of (Toasting)Rap Music, Has Died At 78 Years Old.

Ewart Beckford, popularly known as U-Roy/Hugh Roy, passed away on February 17, 2021. The pioneering D.J. followed on his mentor DJ King Stitt’s heels, who began rapping/toasting on Ska music in 1956 on Clement Dodd’s (Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat Sound System. Back in the 50s, King Stitt, aka the “Boss DJ,” was the number one DJ, and his mentee U-Roy was the number two Toaster playing at local parties. In 1961 U Roy went pro on Dickie Wong’s sound system. “Beckford’s first single ‘Dynamic Fashion Way’ (1969) was a Keith Hudson production. It was followed by the Lee “Scratch” Perry production “Earth’s Rightful Ruler” with Peter Tosh.”


In 1970, the lead singer of the Paragons, John Holt, introduced Beckford to record producer Duke Reid. Beckford then released on Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label two of his most popular and successful hits, “Wake the Town” and “Wear You to The Ball.”

U-Roy life-long partner of 41 years Marcia Smikle in a recent interview told Loop Magazine, “We had some great years, ups and downs like everyone else, good times and bad times, but I stick with it through faith. At my age, where me did ah go go again? There was a lot of love in our home,” she said.  U-Roy is survived by his 16 children. 

Ewart Beckford’s (U-Roy) body will lie in state on March 25th at the National Arena. He will be buried at Dovecot per “Minister Olivia Grange who is organizing the viewing. 

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