Jamaican ska great Dekker dies

LONDON – Desmond Dekker, who brought the sound of Jamaican ska music to the world with hits such as Israelites, has died, his manager said on Friday. He was 64.

Dekker, who lived in England, collapsed from an apparent heart attack at his home on Thursday, manager Delroy W

illiams said.

“It is such a shock, I don’t think I will ever get over this,” Williams said.

Dekker’s 1969 song Israelites, a Top 10 single in both Britain and the United States, was the first international hit produced by Jamaica’s vibrant music scene. With its haunting vocals and irresistible rhythm, it introduced the world to ska, a precursor to reggae.

Other hits included 007 (Shanty Town — featured on the soundtrack of the seminal Jamaican film The Harder They Come — and Rudie Got Soul.

“Desmond was the first legend, believe it or not,” Williams said. “When he released Israelites nobody had heard of Bob Marley — he paved the way for all of them.”

Dekker, who was divorced, is survived by a son and a daughter. Funeral details were not immediately available. – Sapa-AP