R.I.P. Barry Llewellyn of the Heptones

The Heptones

Barry Llewellyn, one of the founders of the Heptones, passed away at the age of 64 last week. The Heptones started out as the Hep Ones, but quickly changed their name after seeing a bottle of Heptones Tonic laying around. Barry, Earl Morgan and Leroy Sibbles started the group in 1965 and quickly gained a lot of attention for their tight vocal harmonies. They pioneered the switch from ska, to the slower rocksteady and eventually to reggae. The band had their first hit in 1966 with “Fattie Fattie,” an ode to big-boned women which was banned from the radio in Jamaica but got plenty of listeners regardless. The Heptones signed to Island Records in 1975 for two albums. The second of the two, 1975’s Party Time was recorded by reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. That album features some of their best material, including an amazing cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” which is featured below. Barry Llewellyn’s presence in the Heptones cannot be underestimated and he will be missed.

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