'My Boy Lollipop' singer Millie Small dies aged 73

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
'My Boy Lollipop' singer Millie Small has died aged 73. (Getty Images)

My Boy Lollipop singer Millie Small has died at the age of 73.

The Jamaican singer – best known for topping the charts with her version of the ska song in 1964 – suffered a stroke and passed away in England, according to producer and founder of Island Records Chris Blackwell.

Blackwell told the Jamaica Observer: “She was such a sweet person, really a sweet person. Very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special.”

Speaking about working with Small on My Boy Lollipop, he said: “I would say she's the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record.

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“It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world. I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it.”

Small was born in Jamaica in 1946. She began her career at the age of 12 winning Jamaican radio talent contest Vere Johns Opportunity Hour.

Millie Small reached Number 2 in the UK charts with 'My Boy Lollipop' in 1964. (Getty Images)

She moved to London in 1963 to pursue a pop career and My Boy Lollipop was her second single, becoming a smash hit in the UK and US and still a much love classic today.

Speaking to the Express newspaper in 2016 she said: "I made a few songs, which didn't go anywhere, and then I recorded My Boy Lollipop... I never had singing lessons, my voice was just something I was born with."

Other notable singles include Sweet William, Bloodshot Eyes and See You Later, Alligator.

Small retired from singing in 1970, "because it was the end of the dream and it felt like the right time". She lived in Singapore from 1971 to 1973 but returned to the UK where she was living when she died.

Millie Small performing in 1965. (Getty Images)

Small said of moving to London in 1963: “It felt like I was coming home, that this was where I was meant to be.”

In retirement she enjoyed cooking, watching documentaries, spending time with her five cats and listening to music.

The singer said: “I love music - reggae, hip-hop, anything that's got rhythm. And I still play My Boy Lollipop because it's a lovely record.”

She welcomed a daughter in 1984, who followed in her footsteps as a musician.

Small said: "My daughter and I are very close and I'm proud of her achievements as a writer, singer and musician; it would be nice for us to sing together one day as mother and child."