Reggae (and, perhaps equally, rocksteady) lost one of its great voices this weekend, in the late, great John Holt. Holt had at least three distinct eras in his career, and chances are you know his work from one, if not all of them.
The singer, who began working with producer Leslie Kong as a teenager in the early 60s, came to prominence as a member of Jamaican vocal group the Paragons, which he joined in 1964. The group (which also included a young Bob Andy) recorded some of the most seminal hits of the rocksteady era, working with producer Duke Reid at Treasure Isle, including “The Tide Is High,” which Holt wrote, and which was later made into a worldwide hit by Blondie. In the ’70s, Holt became known as something of a covers specialist, recording several popular cover albums with names like 1,000 Volts of Holt, and turning tracks like Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” into lite reggae gold. Embracing Rastafari, in later years he would take on a more defiant tone with his music, as exemplified in his 1983 protest “Police in Helicopter.” Here’s a look at a very small handful of Holt’s most notable tunes.