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Tyrone Taylor

Although Jamaican singer Tyrone Taylor recorded in a series of styles and genres rooted in the Caribbean tradition, he remains best known for 1983's soulful lovers rock ballad "Cottage in Negril." Born in rural St. Elizabeth in 1957, Taylor cut his first record at just 12, lending his rich, emotive voice to the Joe Gibbs-produced "Delilah." Although the song was later issued overseas as the flip side of the Dennis Walks hit "Having a Party," Taylor was less than pleased with the end result and briefly teamed with singer Vince Brown in the Soul Menders. His initial struggles forced him to question the realities of a career in music, and he spent the next several years learning a series of instruments under local session players, chief among them the legendary guitarist Willie Lindo, who encouraged Taylor to return to singing. In 1972 he resurfaced in the Soul Twins, cutting the anthems "Don't Call Me N**ga" and "Rastafari Ruler" for producer Clancy Eccles before resuming his solo career with a series of little-noticed singles including "Fight It Blackman." Taylor first earned significant attention and airplay in 1975 under the wing of producer Jack Ruby, scoring a series of well-received hits including "Life Table" and "I'd Like to Know." With 1977's Niney the Observer-produced "Sufferation," he scored his biggest and most memorable single to date, earning a special King Tubby remix in the process. After a series of middling follow-ups, including "Can't Stop Rastaman Now," a reggae rewrite of the McFadden & Whitehead disco classic "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," Taylor self-produced "Cottage in Negril" in 1981. Inspired by both a failed romance and the recent rise to power of the conservative Labor party, complete with the sounds of cocaine snorts between verses, the single slowly but surely emerged as a chart blockbuster, and two years later was picked up for international distribution by MCA. However, the follow-up single, "Pledge to the Sun," bombed, and MCA shelved a proposed LP. In the meantime, Taylor's struggles with drug addiction grew even more serious, and in the decade to follow he recorded only sporadically, generating some notice in 1987 via "Members Only" and "Be for Real." Lindo stepped in to produce 1993's full-length The Way to Paradise, widely celebrated as a return to creative form, and a year later Taylor teamed with producer Clive Hunt for the hit "Rainy Sunset." But Taylor never conquered his personal demons, eventually suffering a handful of strokes and spending the remainder of his life confined to a wheelchair; he died of prostate cancer in Kingston on December 1, 2007. ~ Jason Ankeny
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