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Reggae Singer Pluto Shervington Dead At 73

Pluto Shervington
Reggae singer Pluto Shervington, known for his humorous songs invoking the quaint peculiarities of Jamaican culture, is dead at the age of 73.

The entertainer reportedly died at a hospital in Florida, United States on Friday morning.

The I Man Born Ya singer had been living in Miami, Florida since the early 1980s.

One of his closest friends, Ernie Smith, confirmed his friend’s passing. They met during Shervington’s stint with the Tomorrow’s Children band.

“I’ve known Pluto since he was a guitar player for Tomorrow’s Children, a long long time, he was a very good guitarist. He and I and Ronnie Nasralla (an impresario known for his work in ska) were tight knit friends, I was playing solo at the time,” Smith said.

Born Leighton Keith Shervington on August 13, 1950, the singer was also known as a songwriter, engineer, and producer.

At the age of 16, Shervington joined a band called The Presidents in 1966, leaving a year later to join The Hurricanes, and then moving on to join the Tomorrow’s Children showband.

“I actually gave him the idea to do his first hit, Ram Goat Liver, I was driving through St. Thomas and I almost ran over a goat which run cross the road and I heard a man sit down by the side of the road say ‘him shoulda dead mek we buy a pound of rice’. I gave him the idea and he did the rest, he wrote the song,” Ernie Smith said.

In 1997, Shervington was a guest of honour on Ernie Smith’s celebration of 30 years in the business. He performed alongside Ken Lazarus and the surviving members of the Now Generation band at the Pegasus Hotel in Jamaica. Shervington last performed alongside Ernie Smith at a show dubbed ‘Ernie Smith and Friends’ at Plantation Cove in May, last year.

“He will be greatly missed, a great friend,” he said.

Asked what is his favourite and enduring Pluto Shervington memory, Smith chuckled for about 15 seconds, then said: “Too many to mention,” before adding more chuckles.

Attorney and social commentator, Gordon Robinson, wrote on X that Shervington’s death was a tremendous loss.

“He was an icon of the day when lyrics were written with linguistic skill and humour, and music was properly structured and arranged,” Robinson mused.

After the success of Ram Goat Liver, Shervington’s hilarious follow-up single, Dat – about a Rastafarian twisting himself into paroxyms of guilt while trying to purchase pork, a delicacy verboten in his faith, in order to buy weed was a huge hit. After being offered a wide range of choices, the Rastafarian eventually snaps at the shopkeeper to be quiet and “sell I poun’ a dat ting dere” – which is the pork, of course. The song soared to the number 6 spot in the UK Singles Chart.

Another standout single was Your Honour where Shervington’s dry wit is on display as he explored the predicament of a man caught nude in a woman’s closet by an angry cuckolded husband. One of his most enduring hits is I Man Born Ya which was recorded at Federal Records (now Tuff Gong) with musicians Val Douglas (bass), Willie Lindo (guitar), Wya Lindo (organ), Robbie Lyn (piano) and Mikey Boo (drums).

The song, not to be confused with Neville Martin’s My Leader Born Ya, rode a way of wave of fervent nationalism to the top of local charts, especially after then Prime Minister Michael Manley demanded a pull up in front of 70,000 people on the lawns of a Jamaica House concert.

Luckily, Shervington was never branded a PNP loyalist unlike his good friend Ernie Smith whose Power and the Glory – criticising the gun violence — got him in a bit of hot water as an ugly wave of jingoism and a near civil war between bitter political factions threatened to pull the country apart in the late 1970s.

Shervington was not only a talented singer, but gained a reputation as a talented bass guitarist, and as a recording engineer, notably engineering Little Roy’s 1974 album, Tafari Earth Uprising.

He left the island in 1977, and in the 1980s, lived in Miami. And from 2018, when not on tour, Shervington performed solo several times a week at the Bahama Breeze.

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