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'Police & Thieves' singer Junior Murvin dies

By August Brown

1:12 PM PST, December 3, 2013

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Junior Murvin had one of the greatest reggae singles ever. "Police & Thieves" is a genre staple and one of reggae's most perpetually covered tracks.

The singer died Monday in Jamaica, and his song will be the centerpiece of his legacy. Murvin's age has been listed as 64 and 67 in varying reports.

The singer had recently been hospitalized for diabetes and blood pressure-related illnesses, but a cause of death was not immediately known.

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Murvin was discovered by legendary producer Lee "Scratch" Perry after performing in lounges in Portland parish, east of the capital of Kingston. Perry produced "Police & Thieves" for a 1977 release on Island Records. 

Its mix of sweetly soulful vocals, Perry's idiosyncratic percussion and tales of police violence made it an international hit, rocketing up charts in England and influencing countless acts in reggae scenes and across genres. 

The song was Murvin's only major hit, but it remains one of reggae's most-referenced tunes. The Clash had a hit of its own with a cover version in 1977, and many other acts, including jazz singer Zara McFarlane, have since taken their own spins at it in recent years.  

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