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Jimmy Riley

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Jimmy Riley was born Martin James Norman Riley on May 22, 1954 in Kingston, Jamaica. His first success came as a member of the Sensations (with Cornell Campbell, Aaron "Bobby" Davis, and his brother, Buster Riley), who recorded such hits as "Everyday Is Just a Holiday" for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label in the mid-'60s. Riley left the Sensations in 1967 and, with Slim Smith and Lloyd Charmers, became part of the second incarnation of the Uniques. The Uniques only lasted a little over a year, but recorded such enduring classics as "My Conversation" during that time. As a solo singer and writer, Riley worked with a host of Jamaican producers, including Bunny Lee and Lee "Scratch" Perry, before settling in with Sly & Robbie in the early '80s, whose production on Riley's version of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" helped the song top the reggae charts in 1983. He all but retired from music in the '90s, raising a family that included his son Tarrus, who followed in his father's footsteps and became one of the leading figures in the neo-roots revival of the 2000s. The elder Riley returned to music in 2009 with the album Pull Up Selector, which featured Tarrus as guest. Contradiction followed in 2013, then Riley retreated from music again, this time to battle cancer, a disease that took the singer's life on March 23, 2016. ~ Steve Leggett

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Birth Name:

Martin James Riley


22 May 1954 in Kingston, Jamaica

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s