Millie Small

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Millie Small
Millie Small (1964).jpg
Millie Small in 1964
Background information
Birth nameMillicent Dolly May Small
Also known asLittle Millie Small, Millie Small
Born (1946-10-06) 6 October 1946 (age 73)
Clarendon, Jamaica
GenresBlue beat, ska, reggae
Years active1962–1972
LabelsFontana, Island, Trojan

Millicent Dolly May Small CD (born 6 October 1946)[1] is a Jamaican singer-songwriter, best known for her 1964 recording of "My Boy Lollipop."


Small was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, the daughter of a sugar plantation overseer.[1] Like many Jamaican singers of the era, her career began by winning the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour talent contest, which she won at the age of twelve.[2] Wishing to pursue a career as a singer she moved to live with relatives in Love Lane in Kingston.[2] In her teens, she recorded a duet with Owen Gray ("Sugar Plum") in 1962 and later recorded with Roy Panton for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One record label as 'Roy and Millie'.[1][2] They had a local hit with "We'll Meet".[1][2]

These hits brought her to the attention of Chris Blackwell who became her manager and legal guardian, who in late 1963 took her to Forest Hill, London, where she was given intensive training in dancing and diction.[2] There she made her fourth recording, an Ernest Ranglin rearrangement of "My Boy Lollipop", a song originally released by Barbie Gaye in late 1956.[2] Released in March 1964, Small's version was a massive hit, reaching number two both in the UK Singles Chart[3] and in the US Billboard Hot 100, and number three in Canada.[4] It also topped the chart in Australia. Initially it sold over 600,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[5] Including singles sales, album usage and compilation inclusions, the song has since sold more than seven million copies worldwide.[1][6] Her later recordings, "Sweet William" and "Bloodshot Eyes", also charted in the UK, at numbers 30 and 48 respectively,[3] and "Sweet William" also peaked at number 40 in the US, her only other American chart single. "My Boy Lollipop" re-charted in the UK in 1987 at no. 46.[7]

"My Boy Lollipop" was doubly significant in British pop history. It was the first major hit for Island Records (although it was actually released on the Fontana label because Chris Blackwell, Island's owner, did not want to overextend its then-meagre resources; in the US, the record appeared on the Smash Records subsidiary of Mercury Records), and Small was the first artist to have a hit that was recorded in the bluebeat style (she was billed as "The Blue Beat Girl" on the single's label in the US).[1] This was a music genre that had recently emerged from Jamaica, and was a direct ancestor of reggae.

She appeared on the 1964 Beatles TV special Around The Beatles. On 28 December 1964 she also played Selina Brown in ITV's TV Play of the Week The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown. The play features a number of songs composed by Dolores Claman and performed by Small.[8]

On 6 March 1965, Small appeared on the Australian television programme Bandstand. This was as part of a concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Kings Domain, Melbourne, part of the Moomba Festival. She performed "My Boy Lollipop", "What Am I Living For" and "See You Later, Alligator".[9] The popularity of reggae in the United Kingdom in 1969 prompted a return to recording for Small, with the single "My Love and I".[10] Small continued to tour and perform up to the early 1970s.

On 6 August 2011, the 49th anniversary of Jamaica's independence, the Governor-General created Small a Commander in the Order of Distinction, for her contribution to the Jamaican music industry.[4][11] The award was accepted on her behalf by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.[12]

In July 2012 she stated that she had been recording again and planned to perform in Jamaica for the first time in over 40 years.[12]

After nearly forty years away from the limelight and refusing all interview requests, Small granted U.S. journalist Tom Graves the first in-depth interview ever in the August, 2016, edition of Goldmine. Previous interviews in the 1960s were typically short and based on press releases. In the interview she discusses fully her early career and the full impact of "My Boy Lollipop". She also insisted, against the denials of Rod Stewart, that it was Stewart who played harmonica on "My Boy Lollipop". She said she remembers the sessions well and recalls Stewart's being asked to play.

Personal life[edit]

She had a brief relationship with Peter Asher of the 1960s duo Peter & Gordon.[13] However, in her August 2016 interview with U.S. journalist Tom Graves she denied there had been anything other than a platonic relationship.

She lived in Singapore from 1971 to 1973 before returning to the United Kingdom, which is now her home.[2] She has an adult daughter, born in 1984, who studied art and the music industry.[14][15]



Selected singles[edit]

Year Single Label
1963 "Don't You Know" / "Until You're Mine" Fontana
1964 "My Boy Lollipop" / "Something's Gotta Be Done"
"Sweet William" / "Oh, Henry"
"I Love the Way You Love" / "Bring It On Home To Me"
1965 "I've Fallen In Love With A Snowman" / "What Am I Living For"
"See You Later, Alligator" / "Chilly Kisses"
"My Street" / "It's Too Late"
"Bloodshot Eyes" / "Tongue Tied"
1966 "My Street" / "Mixed Up, Fickle, Lonely, Self-Centred, Spoiled Kind Of Boy" Brit./Atco
"Killer Joe" / "Carry Go Bring Come" Fontana
1967 "You Better Forget" / "I Am In Love" Island
"Chicken Feed" / "Wings Of A Dove" Fontana
1968 "When I Dance With You" / "Hey Mr. Love"
1969 "My Love and I" / "Tell Me All About Yourself" Pyramid
"Readin' Writin' Arithmetic" / "I Want You Never To Stop" Decca


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bruce Eder (1946-10-06). "Millie Small | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Woman Who Started It All", Jamaica Gleaner, 13 October 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 367. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ a b Grizzle, Shereita (2014) "Millie Small's 'My Boy Lollipop' Introduces Teenager To The World", Jamaica Gleaner, 20 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014
  5. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 178–79. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  6. ^ "Jamaica Gleaner News – Millie not so 'small' anymore – Sunday | October 15, 2006". 2006-10-15. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  7. ^ "Millie Full Chart History". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Watch The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown". Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  9. ^ DVD: The Best of Bandstand 1965-66 Volume Three
  10. ^ "Remember Little Millie?". Newcastle Journal. 19 December 1969. Retrieved 30 November 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ "Dennis Brown, Millie Small & Dobby Dobson Get National Awards". Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  12. ^ a b Campbell-Livingston, Cecelia (2012) "LOLLIPOP DREAMS – Millie Small plans JA concert", Jamaica Observer, 8 July 2012, retrieved 2012-07-12
  13. ^ Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopaedia (2000 paperback edition; first published 1992). London: Virgin Publishing, London W6 9HA. p. 403. ISBN 0-7535-0481-2.
  14. ^ [1] Archived November 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Padman, Tony (August 20, 2016). "Where are they now... ? My Boy Lollipop singer Millie Small".
  16. ^ "Millie* - Sings Fats Domino (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  17. ^ "Millie Small Discography". 2012-12-27. Retrieved 2016-07-17.


External links[edit]