At the time of his death in January, 2015, singer/songwriter King Sporty was unknown to most of his fellow Jamaicans. In South Florida, particularly Miami, he was a legend.
Even in his finest moment, Sporty was understandably overshadowed. He co-wrote Buffalo Soldier with Bob Marley, a big hit for the “Gong” back in 1979.
Interestingly, King Sporty (whose real name was Noel Williams) had a big hit in Jamaica in 1973 with the soul-inspired Thinking of You which remains a favorite on oldies radio, and dances, in his country.
The diminutive Sporty was born in Portland, a rural parish in eastern Jamaica. He started in music recording and working as a sound system selector for producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd in the mid-1960s before settling in Miami during the early 1970s.
He hung with the big names on the growing Miami music scene, including Henry Stone, founder and owner of TK Records, singers George and Gwen McRae and Betty Wright who became his wife.
King Sporty never limited his music. In addition to reggae, he recorded soul, R&B and even experimented with early EDM.
Most importantly, he was also a pioneer for West Indian musicians who began laying down roots in South Florida during the 1980s and 1990s.
A Buffalo Soldier to the end.