Cruise International Records,
Allerton Grange Vale,
Alton Ellis La La La Means I Love You 7 inch vinyl
One of the first vocalists to enter the Jamaican music business, Alton Ellis was generally revered as the greatest and most soulful singer the country ever produced — that is, until Bob Marley came along. Ellis had his first hit during the ska craze, but made his true lasting mark as the definitive solo singer of the rocksteady era. Sweet, smooth, and deeply emotive, Ellis was equally at home on Jamaican originals or reggae-fied covers of American R&B hits. He cut a series of ska singles for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s Studio One label, but reached his prime during the mid- to late ’60s, when he recorded some of rock steady’s signature tunes for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle imprint.
Ellis was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1938 and grew up in the Trenchtown area as part of a musically inclined family. As a youngster, he learned to sing and play piano, the latter often by breaking into a local youth centre to practice by night. In his early teens, he teamed up with another singer, Eddie Perkins, to form the duo Alton & Eddie. In 1959, after winning a prominent talent show, they recorded the single “Muriel,” which became a substantial hit in Jamaica. Not long after cutting the follow-up “My Heaven,” Perkins left to try a solo career in the United States, leaving Ellis a solo act.