Tribute to Roy Shirley - The High Priest of Reggae

A Memorial Celebration of King Roy Shirley’s life will be held on August 30th from 9 pm at the Silent Whispers Musicians Club 21-23 Sedgwick Street (opp. Fire Station) Homerton, Hackney E9. Entrance £10.00 includes food.

Live acts will include Derrick Morgan, Winston Francis, Owen Grey, Michael Prophet, Anthony Johnson, Sylvia Tella, Earl 16, Winston Reedy, Dennis Alcapone, Lloyd Brown, Mikey Brooks, AJ Franklyn, etc.

For more information, go to:

Roy Shirley, perhaps the most theatrical singer ever to grace a reggae stage show, died of a heart attack earlier this month.  His massive hit of 1967 "Hold Them" is not only credited as being the very first rock steady vocal track, it was also the first recording ever funded by legendary producer Joe Gibbs.  Prior to that, Roy Shirley had formed the vocal group the Leaders with Ken Boothe, Joe White and Chuck Josephs (aka Chuck Berry Junior), as well as being a founding member of The Uniques alongside Slim Smith and Franklyn White.  He had so many enduring reggae hits, he was often referred to as "The High Priest of Reggae."

A mere two weeks earlier, Mr. Shirley, backed by LA ska revival specialists The Expanders, had performed a musical set that brought down the curtain of the 15th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. Following his unforgettable performance, Roy Shirley was interviewed at KZYX, local NPR affiliate radio station who also simulcast much of the festival including Mr. Shirley's set.

In memory of Mr. Shirley, we are proud to present to you some photographs of his performance at SNWMF along with his final interview and a video of the song (appropriately titled) "Thank You".

Roy Shirley Burial Fund

Roy Shirley's family have confirmed the following account information for people wanting to make donations to contribute towards Roy's burial:

The account is held with Halifax (a division of the Bank of Scotland),
Bank sort code: 11-17-04
Account number 00023457
Account name: Queen Irie Rushton (Roy's daughter)

For your information, the plan is for Roy's body to be returned to Jamaica, where the Jamaican Association of Veteran Artists (JAVA) will arrange his burial, so the donations will go towards the cost of returning his remains to Jamaica. If they are not able to secure enough funds to return his remains to Jamaica, then the donations will go towards the cost of burying him in the UK.

Video by Natural VIP

Roy Shirley's June 22, 2008 Performance at SNWMF

Roy Shirley's June 22, 2008 Interview at KZYX
(Carter VanPelt, JB Welda, Peter Levi, Roy Shirley, Larry Hacken, Kelly Francis & Michael Turner)

Slideshow of Roy Shirley Photos from SNWMF 2008:  

 of  pictures

  • Jamaica Gleaner Article - 'High Priest' Remembered

  • Trojan Records Tribute - Roy Shirley Passes Away

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