KINGSTON, Jamaica — Hopeton Lewis, the singer reputed to have recorded the first Rocksteady song, died at his home in Brooklyn, New York Thursday evening.
He was 66 years old.
Lewis is best known for the 1966 hit ‘Take it Easy’ which heralded the Rocksteady sound. The beat was slower than the Ska which it followed.
Rocksteady, which preceded reggae, produced a number of harmony groups including the Heptones, the Paragons and the Melodians.
The Kingston-born Lewis had other hits including Sounds and Pressure, the 1970 Festival Song winner Boom Shacka Laka, and Grooving out on Life.
Lewis’ friend and colleague at the Grace Deliverance Radio said Lewis had been “struggling with various ailments over a period of time” but did not know the cause of death.
The singer worked at that community radio station for the past five years, hosting a music programme three times per week.
Lewis turned his back on secular music 20 years ago and began recording inspirational music.
He was founder and president of the Hopeton Lewis Caribbean Gospel Music Awards and owner of Caribbean Gospel Jubilee (CGJ), an Internet radio station.