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Junior Murvin



Born: 1946; Died: December 2, 2013.

Junior Murvin, who has died aged 67, was a reggae singer best known for the hit song Police and Thieves, which became the soundtrack of the Notting Hill Carnival when rioting erupted there in 1976. The song, with its chorus "police and thieves in the street, ooh yeah/scaring the nation with their guns and ammunitions", was also covered by The Clash.

Murvin was born Murvin Smith in Swift River in Jamaica and was brought up by his great-grandmother after his father died and his mother emigrated to the UK to work as a nurse. He grew up listening to the likes of Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and Louis Armstrong and started to enter local singing contests when his talent was spotted.

After his aunt gave him a guitar, he started composing songs and after school, moved to Kingston to pursue his musical ambitions. He began his career as a lounge singer in Portland parish, east of Kingston, before joining The Falcons, a popular group in Jamaica.

By the early 1970s, he was singing with another group, Young Experience, and it was when they split up that Murvin wrote Police and Thieves. It was a hit in Jamaica before being released in the UK by Island Records in 1976 along with Murvin's debut album, also called Police and Thieves, the following year.

The popularity of the song was boosted considerably when The Clash covered it and included it on their debut album in 1977 and it was top of the reggae charts for six months. It also entered the UK charts in 1980, reaching No 23.

Murvin continued working, although he never quite achieved the success of Police and Thieves again and never had another big international hit. There was another album in 1982, Ban Man Posse, followed by Muggers in the Street (1984), Apartheid (1986) and Signs and Wonders in 1988. There was also a retrospective in 2007, Junior Murvin: Inna De Yard.

Murvin had been hospitalised recently for diabetes and high blood pressure and died at Port Antonio Hospital in Jamaica.

He is survived by five children and eight grandchildren.

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