The last few weeks have been hard for lovers of Jamaican music as Hopeton Lewis and Jackie Bernard have both left this earth. It brings us great sadness to bring the news that another reggae star has died, as Tito Simon passed away on Saturday Sept 20th, 2014 in Jamaica from a sudden heart attack. Born as Keith Foster in St. Mary Jamaica in 1948, Tito would record ska, soul, and reggae recordings during his career. He recorded and wrote under a ton of aliases including Sugar Simone, Lance Hannibal, and also under his birth name. However, he was most commonly known and referred to as Tito Simon.
In 1961, Tito moved to England and began his recording career in 1964 with Dandy Livingstone as the duo Sugar ‘N’ Dandy. Together, the two would record ska tracks with the Carnival label. There has been a rumor over the years that Sugar ‘N’ Dandy was actually just Dandy Livingstone recording solo and having his voice doubled to appear as a duo, as duos were very popular at that time in Jamaican music. What we can say is at the time of Tito’s passing Dandy took to social media to express his sadness for the loss of his “singing partner, ” Sugar Simone, aka Tito Simon.
To answer the rumor of “Was there vocal doubling on Sugar N’ Dandy tracks?” We received this message from Dandy Livingstone himself a few weeks after the show that finally answers the question:
“Hi Generoso,Tito Simon and I only did one session together. The songs were….. “Only Heaven Knows” and “Let’s Ska.”The late Roy Smith and I did two sessions. Those dates produced three songs…….1.One Man Went to Mow 2.Time and Tide 3.I’m Not Crying Now…….The remainder were doubled by me. Nuff greetings from Jamdown”
After Sugar ‘N’ Dandy, the two parted ways for solo careers, and Tito took a two-year break from recording. In 1967, he returned to the music industry, singing very briefly with the Jetliners, who only have one single to be found. As for his return as a solo artist, in the same year, Tito began recording great soul tracks, which were released on Sue Records. After the solo soul tracks, Tito took another two year break from recording. When he returned to the music industry this time, he began recording in yet another style, reggae, which is what he is best known for.
During the show we played Tito’s reggae recordings for the Dr. Bird and Upfront labels, starting with Tell Me, released on Dr. Bird in 1969. In1972, Tito returned to Jamaica and worked with Clancy Eccles. With Clancy, he would record some of his most popular tracks. We’ll first hear Easy Come Easy Go off of the Just LP released on Horse in England in 1973
On September 24th, we did a full retrospective of Tito’s career, from those early recordings as Sugar ‘N” Dandy through his soul music period and his subsequent triumphs in reggae. R.I.P. Tito.
Listen to the full spotlight and the show via the WMBR archives here: LISTEN HERE
This link will be active until 10/6/2014.