Junior Murvin, the reggae singer best known for writing the classic single “Police & Thieves,” has died in Jamaica. The 67-year old’s family has confirmed the news of his passing.
The official cause of death has yet to be publicized. Murvin had recently been hospitalized for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Born Murvin Smith, the singer began making a name for himself around Kingston in the mid-1970s. He was discovered be legendary producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, and he released one of reggae’s defining songs, the anthemic “Police & Thieves” in 1976. The song would be famously covered by British punk band The Clash a year later, as well as numerous others.
Murvin wrote the tune to reflect the violence and strife of turf wars in Kingston, but it resonated far beyond Jamaica, particularly in England–where it became an anthem for both Jamaican immigrants and angry, young punk rockers. The song was many punks’ first association with reggae.
Murvin released albums under Chris Blackwell’s Island Records for the remainder of the 1970s. He would sustain a recording career for the next several years, though he never attained the same wide-ranging success as he’d had with the iconic single that he became best known for.
Murvin is survived by five children and eight grandchildren.