The “My Boy Lollipop” singer died in the United Kingdom yesterday at the age of 73, after suffering a stroke.
Minister Grange said: “Millie Small will forever be remembered as one of Jamaica’s great music icons. Under the guidance of legendary producer Chris Blackwell she brought Jamaican music to the world, with “My Boy Lollipop” getting to number 2 on the US and UK charts in 1964 and selling some seven million copies.
“Her story is one of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. She took the sweet with the bitter as she navigated the music industry at a time when Jamaican music and Jamaican female artistes were still new concepts to the world.
Jamaica will remain eternally grateful to Millie Small as she paved the way for Ska to explode on the world scene through numerous television appearances around the world, including the BBC’s Top of the Pops. Her unique, childlike sound attracted audiences around the world and turned attention on Jamaican music, which allowed other genres to break through internationally.”
Millie Small was born in Clarendon and developed an early interest in music, entering various talent competitions across the island. By her teenage years she was recording for Sir Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label. She was then spotted by Blackwell who took her to London where My Boy Lollipop was recorded.
Millie Small called time on her career soon after releasing the single “Enoch Power” which was a defiant political response to British Conservative politician Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” anti-immigration speech. The song became an anthem for the newly arrived Windrush generation.
Millie Small was not only a singer but also an actor, painter and dancer.
She lived in New Zealand and Singapore before returning to London where she died. She is survived by her daughter Jaelee who is a London-based musician.
She was awarded the Jamaican national honour of Commander of the Order of Distinction in 2011.