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Unfinished story

Published:Sunday | January 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM
A 1970 picture shows members of the Uniques (from left) Lloyd Charmers, Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley pose at a photo shoot for their upcoming album, 'Absolutely the Uniques'. -Contributed

Lloyd Charmers' age remains a mystery

Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer

When you are credited as "an accomplished singer, pianist/organist and producer" by Billboard - one of the most influential and acclaimed entertainment magazines - then you can rest assured that you have made an indelible mark in music history. It is unfortunate though that Lloyd Charmers, the musician being lauded, is not alive today to savour this accolade.

Local reggae enthusiasts were jolted when news broke that Charmers had passed away from a massive heart attack on December 27 in London while driving.

Though the artiste had migrated to London to continue his career, he was still one of Jamaica's music luminaries.

According to Wikipedia, Charmers was 74 years old when he passed. In an interview with Billboard, Ken Boothe - a fellow Jamaican musician who worked closely with Charmers - posited that the late reggae veteran was not older than 70, although he admitted to not knowing his exact age.

The Trojan Records website sets his date of birth as April 18, 1946 which would put him at 66.

Trojan Records is a British record label that worked with Charmers early in his career.


In an effort to set the record straight, The Sunday Gleaner did some investigation but no one could definitively say how old Charmers actually was.

Female reggae stalwart, Marcia Griffiths - who also worked closely with Charmers and considers him a dear friend - reiterated Boothe's approximation. According to Griffiths, Charmers was probably in his late 60s.

Griffiths said she was still in shock at how Charmers passed away. The reggae songbird revealed that Charmers was a jovial individual who loved to laugh and make others laugh as well.

"When I am down or stressed I would call him and then before I know it, is pure laughter. He was like a kid and maybe that's why I think he is younger than he might be," Griffiths said.

Griffiths told The Sunday Gleaner that the first thing she did when she heard he had passed was to call his phone so that she could hear his voice through his voicemail, which she adds is also usually a riot and is updated frequently. Unfortunately the phone had been disconnected.

Reminiscing on the good times they shared, Griffiths also mentioned taking East Indian mangoes - which were his favourite - for Charmers whenever she visited him in England.

Celebrated entertainment manager Copeland Forbes was also stumped as to what the musician's age was, but estimated early 70s.

Charmers was probably most successful in his role as a producer. He segued into production in the '70s when he set up his own record label - Splash Records.

As a producer, Charmers was involved in some of Boothe's biggest hits, including his cover of David Gates' Everything I Own.