b. Glenroy Ernest Smith, c.1948, Jamaica, West Indies. Smith initially enjoyed notoriety when his single ‘Pitta Patta’, backed with ‘Lichfield Gardens’, topped the Jamaican charts in 1973, utilizing Lee Perry’s ‘musical transplant’ rhythm.
The song was voted as the best song of the year in Jamaica by Swing magazine. The lyrics were also adapted by Lloyd Charmers for his lewd ‘Big Eight’, marketed as the reggae alternative to Judge Dread’s hit. An album followed, with Smith covering ‘I Love You To Want Me’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’, both successfully recorded by John Holt. In 1974 Smith followed the hit with ‘Duppy Or A Gunman’ and the equally popular ‘Key Card’, echoing the patois style made popular by Pluto. ‘Duppy Or A Gunman’ was successfully covered by Inner Circle and interest in the original was regenerated 10 years later with Yellowman. Smith became involved in the Wildflower collective, known as XYZ productions, alongside Lloyd Charmers, where they released a number of chart-topping hits including Ken Boothe’s interpretation of ‘Everything I Own’, which was an international bestseller. In addition to his own recording, Smith was also responsible for Tinga Stewart’s Jamaican Song Festival winner, ‘Play De Music’. Johnny Nash had recorded the disdained Celebrate Life which led the singer on a trip to Jamaica seeking inspiration. The result was Smith’s composition ‘Tears On My Pillow (I Can’t Stand It)’ which topped the UK chart in June 1975. By 1976 Smith’s style was no longer in vogue, although he continued to enjoy popularity with more mature listeners, releasing a number of middle-of-the-road and gospel-influenced albums. In 1980 he recorded a version of Bob Marley’s ‘Bend Down Low’, produced with Lloyd Charmers.