Born on this day in 1938, the soulful Alton Ellis was one of the finest rocksteady singers Jamaica ever produced. With a career going back to the late '50s, he recorded early on doing ska, R&B and ballads in the duo Alton & Eddy (and with his sister Hortense) for Studio 1 and Randy's.
He teamed with John Holt for awhile and started The Flames, recording for Treasure Isle & again Studio 1. The genre took its name from Ellis' 1967 recording "Rock Steady", helping establish the genre and making Ellis popular enough to tour England.
Several more hits followed on various labels in Jamaica, Canada and the UK, where he moved to in '72. He remained a popular artist and was awarded the Order of Distinction by Jamaica in 2004. He died of cancer in 2008, among his children singers Noel and Christopher Ellis.