Noel “King Sporty” Williams, reggae songwriter and DJ, died at Jackson Memorial Hospital Monday evening. He was 71.
Williams was a prolific, if not widely known, musician. He made several contributions to popular music -- including penning the Bob Marley hit “Buffalo Soldier.”
Roger Lewis, Sporty’s friend and member of the Grammy Award-winning band Inner Circle, reflects on Williams -- who he says was a key figure in the formation of Miami’s musical styles.
“Sporty was a legend,” Lewis said by phone Tuesday. “He was the glue that held the music community together. We had a real fraternity.”
Lewis met Williams in 1977. He says the Jamaica-born Sporty had been in Miami since the late ‘60s, contributing to local music for years.
“He created that whole Miami sound,” Lewis said. “That groove sound with that island flavor.”
King Sporty was married to Miami resident and R&B and soul musician Betty Wright, who achieved fame in the 1970s and ‘80s with singles like “Clean Up Woman” and “No Pain, No Gain.”
“Sporty gave her the muscle to fight for her rights and her publishing,” says DJ Tom Laroc, Williams' friend and fellow musician. “He helped make her a very empowered woman in the music business.”
"Going to his house was an experience," Laroc said. "It's the same reggae studio from the 1970s."
Laroc says King Sporty wrote over 400 songs during his lifetime, including Bob Marley’s "Pimper's Paradise" and his own piece, "Self Destruct" — which was sampled in the Justin Timberlake song "That Girl.”
Williams was the recipient of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Watch a clip of him receiving it below:
Watch King Sporty live:
Listen to King Sporty’s mix of the classic “Buffalo Soldier”: