JIS News

The body of veteran Jamaican vocalist, Roy Shirley, leaves London on Monday (September 1), for Jamaica for burial. Shirley, whose real name was Ainsworth Roy Rushton Shirley, died in July at his home in London.
One of Shirley’s daughters, Queen Irie, told JIS News, that her father was a strong and spiritual man, who was principled and not afraid to stand up for what he believed in.
“He was my guardian angel and I loved him. He told me to be brave, to keep trying, and to hold my head up,” she said, adding that he was always full of joy and fun.
Long time friend and fellow London-based singer, Dennis Alcapone, described Shirley a nice man, a fun person to be around, and an extraordinary performer. Alcapone said he met Shirley in the 1960s, while both worked for legendary producer, Bunny Lee, in Kingston.
“He was a very nice person, full of jokes, [and] very inventive. He was a great performer who gave it his all; when he was on stage, he would be on his knees, crying. He was famous for these performances, and his stage outfits. He was a great performer,” he reflected.
Roy Shirley rose to prominence and fame in the late 1960s, and he became renowned for his ecstatic stage performances, that led people to compare him with American soul singer, James Brown.
He performed in many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, and appeared on Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica in 1982, with backing provided by the Rico Rodriguez Band.
Shirley was raised by his mother and stepfather in Trench Town, Kingston, and began singing in talent contests in the late 1950s. Encouraged by fellow artiste, Jimmy Cliff, who introduced him on stage during one of his first performances, Shirley eventually turned professional during his teens. He subsequently moved to England in 1973, but would return to Jamaica to perform, as well as tour North America. His last performance was at a World Music Festival in the USA in June.
The repatriation of Shirley’s body to Jamaica was initiated by the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, with the support of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes, with coordination in London by the Jamaican High Commission.

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