‘My Boy Lollipop’ singer Millie Small has died

Tributes are being paid to the singer who "lit the fuse for Jamaican ska music"

The singer Millie Small has died at the age of 73.

Best known for her 1964 recording of ‘My Boy Lollipop’ — which peaked at number two in the UK singles chart in May of that year, and remains one of the biggest-selling ska songs of all time — the Jamaican singer is credited as being one of the first artists to popularise ska internationally.

Small passed away yesterday (May 5) in the UK, according to the Jamaica Observer. Speaking to the Observer, her friend and Island Records co-founder Chris Blackwell — who said he had been informed that Small had died after suffering a stroke — praised Small as being “very funny, [with a] great sense of humour” and adding that “she was really special”.

“It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world,” he continued about her version of ‘My Boy Lollipop’. “I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it. She was such a sweet person, really a sweet person.”

Small, who released three albums during her career, later reflected on the huge success of ‘My Boy Lollipop’ by remarking: “I hadn’t planned on being a star, but I always wanted to be a singer, and I felt like it was my destiny to go to England.”

Small was honoured in 2011 with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander by the Jamaican government in recognition of her contribution to the development of the Jamaican music industry.

Further tributes are being paid to Small on social media, with the singer being acclaimed for “lighting the fuse for Jamaican ska music”.