Leonard Dillon has passed away.

And again a reggae pioneer has died! This time it's Leonard Dillon aka Jack Sparrow aka The Ethiopian, who had been diagnosed with cancer in June and underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour earlier this year. He died of lung and prostate cancer at his daughter's home in Kingston JA, on Wednesday September 28, 2011. Leonard Dillon was 68 years old and is survived by seven children.

Leonard Dillon, who began his music career using the stage name Jack Sparrow in the early 1960s, became best known as the lead singer of the vocal group The Ethiopians. Prior to the formation of the group in 1966, he recorded a few solo singles for legendary Studio One producer Coxsone Dodd in 1964. He returned to the latter, but now, together with Stephen Taylor and Aston Morris, as member of the vocal trio The Ethiopians, which soon slimmed down to a duo after Aston Morris had decided to leave the group. After having recorded singles like "Owe Me No Pay Me", "Live Good", "Free Man", and "Praise Far I" for Coxsone Dodd, the started to work with a lot of other producers. Even though they recorded for producers such as Lloyd "Matador" Daley, Prince Buster, Duke Reid and Derrick Harriott, it was actually Sir JJ who was their main producer. Their works for 'JJ Johnson' included "What A Fire", "Gun Man", "The Selah", "Woman Capture Man", and their big hit "Everything Crash".

In 1975 Stephen Taylor died, and Leonard Dillon continued alone, occasionally using session singers. In 1977 he recorded the Rasta-based album "Slave Call" for producer Winston "Niney" Holness. It was followed by the 1978 released "Open The Gate To Zion". After he had left the scene for a while, he went back to Coxsone Dodd which led to the release of the acclaimed "Everything Crash" album. in 1986 he recorded the Nighthawk album "Dread Prophecy" with the Gladiators. In the 1990s and also in the new millennium he released a few albums including "The World Goes Ska", "Tuffer Than Stone", "On The Road Again", "One Step Forward", and a Studio One set entitled "Mystic Man". However most of the times he was on tour, bringing his music "live & direct" to the masses.

In 2009, he returned to the studio with the legendary Jamaican vocal team The Silvertones to record his album "Original Hitmakers From Jamaica, Volume 1: Leonard Dillon The Ethiopian". Leonard Dillon has truly earned a place in the upper echelon of Jamaican popular music.

Read Peter I's in-depth interview with Leonard Dillon HERE.

Sources: The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Reggae & Roots Archives website.
Leonard Dillon
1942-2011




SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Albums:

  • Reggae Power
  • Slave Call
  • Owner Fe Yard
  • Open The Gate Of Zion
  • Dread Prophecy
  • Everything Crash
  • The World Goes Ska
  • Tuffer Than Stone
  • On The Road Again
  • One Step Forward
  • Mystic Man
  • Original Hitmakers From Jamaica Vol. 1
Compilations:

  • Clap Your Hands
  • Everything Crash
  • No Baptism
  • Reggae Hit The Town
  • Sir J.J. And Friends
  • The Original Reggae Hit Sound
  • The World Goes Ska
  • Train To Skaville
  • Woman Capture Man