Barry "Heptone" Llewellyn has passed away.

On Wednesday November 23, 2011, one of the founding members of The Heptones, an influential Jamaican rocksteady and reggae trio in the '60s and '70s, suddenly passed away at Kingston Public Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. Reports are that he died as a result of complications resulting from collapsed lungs. Barry Llewellyn was 64 years old and is survived by his wife, Monica, and several children.

Born in Trench Town, Barry Llewellyn aka Bebo together with his good friend Earl Morgan formed The Heptones (originally named The Hep Ones) in 1965. The group's line-up went through several changes (Glen Adams, probably best known as keyboardist of The Upsetters, was one of the group's earliest members) before Leroy Sibbles joined them. With Leroy Sibbles as lead singer, they started to record for producer Ken Lack for whom they cut two 7" singles including the extraordinary "Gunmen Coming To Town". However it wasn't until legendary Studio One producer Coxsone Dodd showed an interest in the trio, that they achieved their breakthrough. During the rocksteady era they scored local hits with songs like "I Hold The Handle", I've Got A Feeling", "Why Must I", and "Baby". On the group's debut album "Fattie, Fattie" (Studio One), both Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan also came up with the occasional song and lead vocal.

During the first half of the '70s, actually the early reggae era, they recorded the album "Freedom Line" for Coxsone Dodd, but then went on to record with producers like Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger, and Harry J. with the latter they had a big hit, "Book Of Rules" (based on an American poem called "A Bag of Tools" by R.L.Sharpe) in 1973. It was one of the group's few songs not sung by Leroy Sibbles. Barry Llewelyn sang lead and co-wrote "Book Of Rules". The song was featured on the soundtrack for the 1998 American comedy-thriller film "Homegrown". Leroy Sibbles emigrated to Canada in 1973 and the group suspended recording activities until 1975, when he returned to once again record at Harry J's studio in Kingston, Jamaica. In that same year The Heptones signed an album deal with Island Records, which resulted in the release of two albums: "Night Food" in 1976 and "Party Time" in 1977. Leroy Sibbles left the group once more in 1978 to start a successful solo career and was replaced by Dolphin "Naggo" Morris, but the group's popularity waned.

More recently, The Heptones' Barry Llewellyn and Leroy Sibbles regularly performed in Europe with this year appearing at big festivals like Uppsala Reggae Festival in Sweden, Reggae Sun Ska in France, and Reggae Jam & Chiemsee Reggae Summer in Germany.

Sources: The Rough Guide To Reggae, Wikipedia, Jamaica Gleaner.
Barry Llewellyn
1947-2011




SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Singles:

  1. Fattie Fattie (1966)
  2. Party Time (1966)
  3. I've Got a Feeling (1966)
  4. Get In the Groove (1967)
  5. Equal Rights (1968)
  6. Ain't Nobody Else (1968)
  7. Pretty Looks (1969)
  8. Our Day Will Come (1972)
  9. Book of Rules (1973)
  10. Mistry Babylon (1977)
  11. Sufferers' Time (1978)
Albums:

  1. The Heptones (aka Fattie Fattie) (1967)
  2. On Top (1968)
  3. Black Is Black (aka Ting A Ling) (1970)
  4. Freedom Line (1971)
  5. Book Of Rules (1973)
  6. The Original Heptones (1976)
  7. Cool Rasta (1976)
  8. Night Food (1976)
  9. Party Time (1977)