Maxi Priest

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Maxi Priest
Priest in 2011
Priest in 2011
Background information
Birth nameMax Alfred Elliott
Born (1961-06-10) 10 June 1961 (age 62)
Lewisham, London, England
GenresReggae, synth pop, electronic, reggae fusion, lovers rock
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, electronic reggae
Years active1984–present

Max Alfred Elliott (born 10 June 1961), known by his stage name Maxi Priest, is a British reggae vocalist of Jamaican descent. He is best known for singing reggae music with an R&B influence, otherwise known as reggae fusion. He was one of the first international artists to have success in this genre, and one of the most successful reggae fusion acts of all time.[1]

Early life[edit]

Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham, London, the second youngest of nine siblings. His parents had moved to England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their family and he grew up listening to gospel, reggae, R&B, and pop music. He first learned to sing in church, encouraged by his mother, who was a Pentecostal missionary.

Priest grew up listening to Jamaican artists such as Dennis Brown, John Holt, Ken Boothe and Gregory Isaacs as well as singers like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, the Beatles, Phil Collins and Frank Sinatra.

As a teenager, he lifted speaker boxes for the Jah Shaka and Negus Negast sound-systems. He was a founder member of Saxon Studio International, and it was with Saxon that Maxi began performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and house parties.

His music is sometimes closer to R&B and pop than to reggae. Priest lost his cousin, named Jacob Miller, in a car crash on 23 March 1980. Miller was the frontman in the popular reggae group Inner Circle, as well as a reggae icon.[2]

Two of Priest's sons are also singers; Marvin Priest (born Marvin Cornell Elliott) and Ryan Elliott, who was in the 1990s boy band, Ultimate Kaos.


Priest's musical career began with him singing on the South London reggae soundsystem Saxon Studio International, after which some independent single releases followed. His first major album, Maxi (titled Maxi Priest in the US and Canada), was released in 1988, and, along with his cover of Cat Stevens' "Wild World", established him as one of the top British reggae singers.

He is one of only two British reggae acts (along with UB40) to have an American Billboard number one: "Close to You" in 1990. A duet with Roberta Flack, "Set the Night to Music", reached the American Top Ten in 1991. His duet with Shaggy in 1996, "That Girl", was also a hit in the United States, peaking at number twenty.[3]

In the latter half of his recording career, Priest favoured working alongside other artists, both established and up-and-coming. He has worked with Sly and Robbie, Shaggy, Beres Hammond, Jazzie B, Apache Indian, Roberta Flack, Shurwayne Winchester, Shabba Ranks, Robin Trower, and Lee Ritenour.

It was reported in some newspapers in the Birmingham area, including the Birmingham Mail on 13 March 2008, that Priest would be replacing Ali Campbell as the new lead singer of UB40, and that he had recorded a cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" with the band, based on information from "an unnamed source close to the band". Priest had joined UB40 on tour in 2007, culminating in sold-out shows at the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull in December.[4] Another local newspaper, the Express & Star that had reported that Priest would be the new UB40 frontman, included a statement from band spokesman Gerard Franklyn which contradicted the claim, stating: "Maxi is collaborating with the band to record material but he won't be the new lead singer, that will be Duncan Campbell, the brother of Ali and Robin Campbell. He will only be appearing with them for this new recording."[5]

In 2012, Priest recorded a cover of Japanese band L'arc~en~Ciel's song "Vivid Colors" for the band's English-language tribute album.

In 2013, Priest recorded a remix version of the Hindi song "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse" originally sung by Arijit Singh. It was remixed by British Indian producer Rishi Rich.

His 2014 album Easy to Love entered the Billboard Top Reggae Albums Chart at number two.[6]


Priest played for non-League football club Southall, his son Marvin's team, in March 2003 when they needed players to fulfil a fixture due to an injury crisis at the club.[7] Southall lost 3–0 to Feltham.[7]


Year Award Category Work Result
1994 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album Fe Real Nominated
1997 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album Man with the Fun Nominated
2021 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album It All Comes Back To Love Nominated


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1985 You're Safe
1986 Intentions 96
1988 Maxi / Maxi Priest 25 67 108
1990 Bonafide 11 25 47 16
1992 Fe Real 60 191 46
1996 Man with the Fun 52 108 43
1999 CombiNation
2005 2 the Max
2007 Refused
2014 Easy to Love
2019 It All Comes Back to Love
2020 United State of Mind
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


Year Album Chart positions Certifications
1991 Best of Me 23 122 45
2000 Collection
2012 Maximum Collection
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.



Year Title Peak chart positions Album

1984 "Sensi" (split single with Papa Levi) (UK only) You're Safe
(as Maxi Priest & Caution)
"Throw My Corn" (UK only)
1985 "Should I (Put My Trust in You)" (UK only)
"Dancin' Mood" (UK only)
1986 "Strollin' On" 32 Intentions
"In the Springtime (The Summertime Remix)" (UK only) 54 You're Safe
"Crazy Love" 67 Intentions
1987 "Let Me Know" (UK only) 49
"Woman in You" (UK only) 83
"Some Guys Have All the Luck" 12 15 20 18 Maxi (EUR/JAP)
Maxi Priest (US/CAN)
1988 "How Can We Ease the Pain?" (feat. Beres Hammond) (UK only) 41
"Wild World" 5 5 7 5 17 3 8 5 25
"Goodbye to Love Again" 57
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

1990s and 2000s[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)

1990 "Close to You" 7 26 5 9 4 8 10 2 2 1 Bonafide
"Peace Throughout the World" 41 52 87 13
"Human Work of Art" 71 58
1991 "Just a Little Bit Longer" 62 62
"Space in My Heart" (US promo only)
1992 "Groovin' in the Midnight" 50 31 63 Fe Real
"Just Wanna Know / Fe Real" (feat. Apache Indian) 33
1993 "One More Chance" 40 38
1996 "That Girl" (with Shaggy) 15 35 52 29 29 7 10 20 Man with the Fun
"Message in a Bottle" (Japan only)
"Watching the World Go By" 36 97 88
"Heartbreak Lover" (US promo only)
1997 "Once Again It's Summertime" The Best of Maxi Priest
1999 "Mary Got a Baby" (feat Beenie Man) 19 Combination
2000 "Back Together Again" 156
2004 "Fields / Like I Do" 2 the Max
2005 "Believe in Love"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

As featured artist[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Album
1991 "Housecall"
(Shabba Ranks featuring Maxi Priest)
31 37 4 As Raw as Ever
"Set the Night to Music"
(Roberta Flack featuring Maxi Priest)
80 50 6 45 Set the Night to Music
1993 "Housecall" (reissue)
(Shabba Ranks featuring Maxi Priest)
8 As Raw as Ever
"Waiting in Vain"
(Lee Ritenour with Maxi Priest)
65 54 Wes Bound
1997 "Love Somebody"
(Yūji Oda with Maxi Priest)
Singles only
1998 "Rise Up"
(as part of Jamaica United)
2008 "That's What the Girls Like" (promo)
(2Play featuring Maxi Priest)
2013 "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse"
(Rishi Rich & Arijit Singh featuring Maxi Priest)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ Snowden, Don (21 February 1991). "Reggae's Maxi Priest Wins Mainstream Favor : Pop music: The British singer adds an R&B flavor to the Jamaican sound. He and his band play San Diego and Long Beach this weekend". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 15 May 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  2. ^ Campbell, Howard (9 May 2014). "Family ties: Maxi Priest, Jacob Miller, Heavy D". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 11 May 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Maxi Priest - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  4. ^ Live, Birmingham (14 March 2008). "Maxi Priest to join UB40". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Maxi Priest is new UB40 frontman". Express & Star. 14 March 2008. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008.
  6. ^ Jackson, Kevin (11 July 2014). "Maxi Priest gets Billboard love". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b "BBC SPORT | Fun and Games | Priest cannot save Southall". BBC News. 23 March 2003. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 438. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ a b c d Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  10. ^ "Maxi Priest - Maxi (album)". Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Maxi Priest - Bonafide". Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Bubbling Down Under Week Commencing 14 October 1991". Bubbling Down Under. 14 October 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  13. ^ "Maxi Priest - The Best of Me". Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  14. ^ a b "Maxi Priest – UK Chart". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Maxi Priest – Dutch Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Maxi Priest – Flemish Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Maxi Priest – Swedish Chart". 1 March 2016.
  18. ^ "Maxi Priest – Norvegian Chart". 1 March 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Maxi Priest – New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Maxi Priest – US Hot 100". Billboard. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  21. ^ "Maxi Priest – German Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Maxi Priest – Austrian Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Maxi Priest – Swiss Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  24. ^ "1990 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  25. ^ Swedish certifications Archived 21 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 11 September 2008)
  26. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  27. ^ "1996 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 16 September 2016.

External links[edit]

Media related to Maxi Priest at Wikimedia Commons