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John Holt to Rock Studio 38 tonight

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

John Holt

John Holt, arguably rocksteady's greatest living legend, will perform tonight at the new Studio 38 Bistro at the Pulse Centre, 38a Trafalgar Road in New Kingston.

Holt will be backed by Lloyd Parks and We The People, which will also perform. The evening's entertainment starts at 6 p.m. with special guest performances slated to take place ahead of Holt's headline performance.

Holt's show will continue Studio 38's live music series which started last Sunday with Nambo Robinson's 'Musical Journey', which received raves from the standing room audience. John Holt's performance is consistent with Studio 38's raison d'etre - providing easy, quality entertainment for a mature, sophisticated audience as well as the younger demographic, attuned to great music. Tickets are $1,000 and are available at the door.

On an island renowned for its superb vocalists and composers, John Holt still stands head and shoulders above the rest as one of Jamaica's sweetest singers and enduring songwriters. He has voiced and penned so many of the country's classics that in a way, Holt has defined the island's sound.

Born in the Greenwich Farm area of Kingston, on July 11, 1947, the young Holt took his first steps into the music business via the talent show circuit.

Holt achieved prominence as lead singer of The Paragons, with whom he 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, later covered by U-Roy.

solo career

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 also included covers of Billy Joel's Just the Way You Are and Diana Ross's Touch Me in the Morning, amongst others.

Holt's style, notably slower and more romantic than most of his contemporaries, is a recognisable forerunner of the lovers' rock style which developed in the UK during the 1970s. Don't Want To See You Cry was one of Holt's many Jamaican hits. The lyrics about "moving to a far away land" and leaving loved ones behind must have rung true for many Jamaicans in the 1960s.

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