Maxi Priest

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Maxi Priest
Priest performing in January 2011
Background information
Birth name Max Alfred Elliott
Born (1961-06-10) 10 June 1961 (age 55)
Lewisham, London, England[1]
Genres Reggae, reggae fusion, Lovers rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts Saxon Studio International, UB40

Max Alfred "Maxi" Elliott (born 10 June 1961), known by his stage name Maxi Priest, is an English reggae vocalist of Jamaican descent. He is best known for singing reggae music with an R&B influence, otherwise known as reggae fusion, and became one of the first international successes who regularly dabbled in the genre and one of the most successful reggae fusion acts of all-time.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham, London, the second youngest of nine brothers and sisters. His parents 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. Maxi grew up listening to Jamaican greats 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 also a founder member of Saxon Studio International. It was with Saxon that Maxi began performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and house parties, and first won an appreciative audience.

His music is sometimes closer to R&B, and pop, than to reggae music itself. His cousin, Jacob Miller, a reggae icon, was the frontman in the popular reggae group Inner Circle.[3]


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 was the self-titled Maxi Priest (1988) which, 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.

In the latter half of his recording career, Priest has 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 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 sell-out shows at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Solihull in December.[4][5] 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."[6]

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

His 2014 album Easy to Love entered the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart at no. 2.[7]


Studio albums[edit]


  • Best of Me (1991) #23 UK
  • Collection (2000)[8]
  • Maximum Collection (2012)



Year Single 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 Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)

1990 "Close to You" 7 26 5 9 4 8 10 2 2 2 1 2 Bonafide
"Peace Throughout The World" 41 52 87 13
"Human Work of Art" 71 58
1991 "Just a Little Bit Longer" 62 62 30
"Space in My Heart" (US promo only) 76
1992 "Groovin' in the Midnight" 50 31 63 29 Fe Real
"Just Wanna Know / Fe Real" (feat. Apache Indian) 33
1993 "One More Chance" 40 38 77
1996 "That Girl" (with Shaggy) 15 35 52 29 29 15 7 10 20 34 Man with the Fun
"Message in a Bottle" (JAP 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 feat. Maxi Priest)
31 37 4 As Raw As Ever
"Set the Night to Music"
(Roberta Flack feat. Maxi Priest)
80 50 6 45 Set The Night To Music
1993 "Housecall" (reissue)
(Shabba Ranks feat. Maxi Priest)
8 As Raw As Ever
" Waiting In Vain"
(Lee Ritenour feat. Maxi Priest)
65 54 Wes Bound
1997 "Love Somebody"
(Yūji Oda with Maxi Priest)
single only
1998 "Rise Up"
(as part of Jamaica United)
54 single only
2008 "That's What The Girls Like" (promo)
(2Play feat. Maxi Priest)
single only
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Maxi played for Non-League football club Southall, his son Marvin's team, in March 2003 when they needed players to fulfill a fixture due to an injury crisis at the club.[25] However, despite coming on as a substitute at the age of 43, he could not stop Southall from losing 3-0 to Chalfont St Peter A.F.C..[25]


  1. ^ England & Wales, Birth Index: 1916–2005 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, US: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.
  2. ^ 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.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  3. ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) "Family ties: Maxi Priest, Jacob Miller, Heavy D", Jamaica Observer, 9 May 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2014
  4. ^ Birmingham Post: Maxi Priest is new singer with UB40
  5. ^ Birmingham Mail: Maxi Priest to join UB40
  6. ^ Maxi Priest is new UB40 frontman, Express and Star, 14 March 2008.
  7. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2014) "Maxi Priest gets Billboard love", Jamaica Observer, 11 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014
  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 "Maxi Priest - UK Chart". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "Maxi Priest - Dutch Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Maxi Priest - Flemish Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Maxi Priest - Swedish Chart". 1 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "Maxi Priest - Norvegian Chart". 1 March 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  15. ^ a b "Maxi Priest - New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  16. ^ a b "Maxi Priest - US Hot 100". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  17. ^ "Maxi Priest - German Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  18. ^ "Maxi Priest - Austrian Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "Maxi Priest - Swiss Chart". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  20. ^ "Maxi Priest - US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  21. ^ "1990 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  22. ^ Swedish certifications (Retrieved 11 September 2008)
  23. ^ RIAA Cert
  24. ^ "1996 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  25. ^ a b "BBC SPORT | Fun and Games | Priest cannot save Southall". BBC News. 2003-03-23. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 

External links[edit]