John Holt (singer)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

John Kenneth Holt (11 July 1947 – 19 October 2014) was a reggae singer and songwriter who first found fame as a member of The Paragons, with whom he enjoyed a string of hits, including "Ali Baba", and the Holt-penned "The Tide Is High" (later made famous by Blondie. His song, "Man Next Door", has been covered by numerous other reggae artists.


Holt was born in Kingston in 1947. By the age of twelve, he was a regular entrant in talent contests run at Jamaican theatres by Vere Johns. He recorded his first single in 1963 with "I Cried a Tear" for record producer Leslie Kong, and also recorded duets with Alton Ellis.

He achieved prominence in his home country as lead singer of The Paragons and they cut a succession of singles for Duke Reid at his Treasure Isle Studio and enjoyed a string of hits, including "Ali Baba", "Tonight", "I See Your Face", and Holt penned "The Tide Is High" (later made famous by Blondie and also covered by Atomic Kitten). "Wear You to the Ball" was another of his hits with The Paragons, and hit the charts again when U-Roy added a Deejay verse to it. During his time with the Paragons, he also recorded solo material for Studio One (including "Fancy Make-up", "A Love I Can Feel", "Let's Build Our Dreams" and "OK Fred") and Prince Buster ("Oh Girl", and "My Heart Is Gone").

Holt left the Paragons in 1970 and concentrated on his solo career. By the early 1970s, he was one of the biggest stars of reggae, and his "Stick By Me" was the biggest selling Jamaican record of 1972, one of a number of records recorded with producer Bunny Lee. His 1973 album, Time Is The Master, was successful, with orchestral arrangements recorded in London. The success of the string-laden reggae led to Trojan Records issuing a series of similarly arranged albums produced by Bunny Lee starting with the 1,000 Volts of Holt in 1973, a compilation of Holt's reggae cover versions of popular hits (and later followed by similarly named releases up to 3,000 Volts of Holt). 1,000 Volts spawned the UK Top 10 hit "Help Me Make It Through the Night" (written by Kris Kristofferson), which peaked at number 6, and included covers of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" and "Touch Me in the Morning" by Diana Ross.

Holt's style, notably slower and more romantic than most of his contemporaries, is a recognisable forerunner of the lovers rock sub-genre.

His song, "Man Next Door", has been covered by numerous other reggae artists, including Dennis Brown, UB40 and Horace Andy. The latter sang in a more electronic vein for the Massive Attack album, Mezzanine.

Having been taken ill at the One Love Festival on 16 August, Holt died on 19 October 2014 in a London hospital.

Album discography

  • A Love I Can Feel (1970) Bamboo
  • Holt (1971) Jaguar
  • Still in Chains (1971) Trojan
  • Greatest Hits (1972) Melodisc
  • OK Fred (1972) Melodisc
  • Pledging My Love (1972) Jackpot/Trojan
  • The Further You Look (1973) Trojan
  • Time Is The Master (1973) Moodisc
  • One Thousand Volts Of Holt (1973) Originally Trojan, now Secret Records
  • Dusty Roads (1974) Trojan
  • Before the Next Tear Drop (1976) Klik
  • Up Park Camp (1976) Channel One
  • Channel One Presents The Magnificent John Holt (1977) Channel One
  • Roots of Holt (1977) Trojan
  • Showcase (New Disco Style) (1977) Thunderbolt
  • Holt Goes Disco (1978) Trojan
  • In Demand (1978) Dynamic Sounds
  • Let It Go On (1978) Trojan
  • Super Star (1978) Weed Beat
  • The Impressable John Holt (Disco Mix) (1978) Harry J
  • A1 Disco Showcase (1981) Taurus
  • Introspective (1980) Dynamic Sounds
  • My Desire (1980) Jackpot
  • Just the Two of Us (1982) CSA
  • Sweetie Come Brush Me (1982) Volcano
  • Gold (1983) Creole
  • Police in Helicopter (1983) Greensleeves/Arrival
  • For Lovers and Dancers (1984) Trojan
  • Live in London (1984) Very Good
  • Wild Fire (1985) Natty Congo/Tad's (with Dennis Brown)
  • Vibes (1985) Leggo Sounds
  • The Reggae Christmas Hits Album (1986) Trojan
  • From One Extreme to Another (1986) Beta
  • Time Is The Master (1988) Creole
  • Rock With Me Baby (1988) Trojan
  • If I Were a Carpenter (1989)
  • Why I Care (1989) Greensleeves
  • Reggae, Hip House, R&B Flavor (1993)
  • Peacemaker (1993)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "John Holt (singer)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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