Influential Jamaican singer and songwriter B.B. Seaton dead at age 79

 March 5, 2024

An influential singer/songwriter in the reggae and ska genres of music, B.B. Seaton, passed away on Monday at the age of 79, the Jamaica Observer reported.

The Jamaican-born entertainer died while surrounded by family members at a hospital in London in the United Kingdom, according to longtime friend and fellow artist Dennis Alcapone.

Seaton was arguably best known as part of the popular 1960s trio The Gaylads but also had a long and successful solo career and wrote hit songs for dozens of other artists over the years.

Successful decades-long music career

According to Reggae Vibes, B.B. Seaton was born Harris Lloyd Seaton in Sept. 1944 in Jamaica. He grew up listening to American music in the 1950s before he began writing his own music and songs while attending high school at Cornwall College in Jamaica's Montego Bay.

It was in 1961 that Seaton teamed up with fellow artists Maurice Roberts and Delano Stewart to form The Gaylads, and the trio recorded and released several hit singles and two full albums before breaking up and going their separate ways in the early 1970s.

Seaton would then pursue a successful solo career as both a live performer and recording artist, not to mention as a producer, and is credited as a hugely influential figure in Jamaica's music scene.

Some of his honors include serving as the vice president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, and he was a recipient of the El Suzie Award as the best songwriter along with the Jamaican Cultural Development Award for pioneering the island's distinctive genres.

Most recently, Seaton was recognized for his lifetime achievements in 2007 with the Martin’s International Reggae & World Music Hall of Fame Award.

An influence on Jamaica's music scene

The Caribbean National Weekly reported that in addition to The Gaylads, Seaton was also a member of popular reggae, rocksteady, and ska groups like The Astronauts, Conscious Minds, and The Messengers, through which he helped popularize the Jamaican style of music.

Olivia Grange, Jamaica's minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, said of the singer/songwriter, "If ever a variety of musical talent resided in one man, it was in BB Seaton."

"He was a qualified musician and a singer of exceptional quality who led one of Jamaica’s outstanding musical groups, The Gaylads," she explained. "He was one of the most prolific songwriters to hit the local scene and a record producer of note."

"He made 15 albums," Grange said. "B.B. Seaton also served as executive member and vice president for the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and received the El Suzie Award as best songwriter. He received the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Award in 1981-1982 for pioneering Jamaican music as a singer and songwriter."

Still writing and producing music until the end

The Jamaican minister and politician noted that Seaton was still "releasing some of his vintage productions on his Soul Beat Record label in London" until shortly before his death.

"For all of us. Harris Lloyd Seaton … B.B., as we will always remember him, had a tremendous influence, especially on the Jamaican music genres ska and rocksteady," Grange added. "My sincerest sympathy to his wife, Sue, the rest of his family, relatives, friends, associates, and to the music fraternity. Rest in Peace, B.B. Seaton."

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