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Maxi Priest

Christened the "King of Lovers Rock" by his fans, British reggae star Maxi Priest was one of the most internationally popular reggae singers since Bob Marley. Priest's pop and modern R&B influences didn't exactly endear him to reggae purists, but they gave him a strong crossover appeal that paid off in the trans-Atlantic chart-topper "Close to You." At times he strayed too far from his reggae roots to deliver a true stylistic hybrid, but his silky-smooth voice was ideally suited for light, romantic material, and his best music was as sensual as it was soulful.

Priest was born Max Elliott on June 10, 1962, in the Lewisham area of London. He was the eighth of nine children, born to parents who had emigrated from Jamaica several years before his birth. His mother was active in the Pentecostal church, and the family grew up singing gospel music together; Maxi would later convert to Rastafarianism, upon which point he changed his name to Maxi Priest. He was working as a carpenter when he was invited to build speaker boxes for the prominent Saxon International sound system. It wasn't long before his contacts there discovered that he could sing as well, and soon he was participating in live dancehall shows; in 1984, he and Paul "Barry Boom" Robinson also co-produced Phillip Levi's "Mi God Mi King," the first U.K.-born reggae single to hit number one in Jamaica.

Priest signed with Virgin Records and released his debut album, You're Safe, in 1985. A more traditional reggae set than his subsequent releases, it featured production by Robinson and live instrumental backing from the band Caution, and spun off the U.K. hit "In the Springtime." His 1986 follow-up, Intentions, featured two more U.K. successes in "Strollin' On" and the Van Morrison cover "Crazy Love." However, it was 1988's Sly & Robbie-produced Maxi Priest that ranked as his true breakthrough; his Top 30 cover of Cat Stevens' "Wild World" gave him his first American hit, and another cover, Robert Palmer's "Some Guys Have All the Luck," kept his hit streak alive in the U.K. Elsewhere, he embraced slinky lovers rock grooves to a greater extent than ever before, and even made a rare detour into social consciousness with the Beres Hammond duet "How Can We Ease the Pain?."

Now hugely popular in the U.K., and on his way in the U.S., Priest recorded what would become his biggest-selling album, Bonafide. Released in 1990, it climbed up the charts by virtue of the steamy, Soul II Soul-influenced single "Close to You," which went all the way to number one on the American pop charts. Follow-ups "Just a Little Bit Longer" and "Space in My Heart" failed to duplicate its success Stateside, although "Peace Throughout the World" and "Human Work of Art" were both popular in Britain. The hits collection Best of Me was rushed out in 1991, not long after Priest teamed with Shabba Ranks for the dance-club hit "House Call," and not long before another Priest duet, the Roberta Flack collaboration "Set the Night to Music," climbed into the U.S. Top Ten. Nonetheless, Priest's next album, 1992's Fe Real, was a solid outing but a commercial disappointment; neither of the American singles, "Groovin' in the Midnight" or the Shaggy duet "One More Chance," made much of an impact either. After a supporting role in the movie Scam, Priest took a sabbatical from recording for a few years to concentrate on launching his own U.K. label, Dugout.

Priest returned in 1996 with Man with the Fun, the most crossover-oriented album in his catalog to date. It spun off a U.S. and U.K. Top 20 hit in "That Girl," another duet with Shaggy. Despite its dancehall flavor, much of the album found Priest moving away from the lovers rock that had made his name. That trend continued on 1999's CombiNation, which focused predominantly on hip-hop and smooth soul balladry. Duet singles, guest appearances, and a 2003 U.S. tour with Joan Osborne, Bootsy Collins, and Motown's the Funk Brothers took the singer to his 2004 album 2 the Max. It was followed in 2007 by the album Refused, while 2008 saw him hit the road with UB40 and collaborate with the band on the single "Dance Until the Morning Light." In 2012 the Maximum Collection set rounded up both his global and Jamaican singles, while two years later, the album Easy to Love arrived on the VP label with Sly & Robbie and Beres Hammond among its guests. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Cool song
msdee104
Love me some Maxi Priest
I love Maxi Priest ever since close to you. I have worn out all of his CD's
THE FIRST TIME I SAW MAXI PRIEST WAS IN OAHU, HAWAII....IN THE 90s..... IT WAS THE BEST!!!!!
patrickhamba r c h i a n
First love
Very sexy and I love his music relaxes me. Very smooth.
Maxi Priest is a legend!!! Such perfect voice and music......g r e a t performer too!
trickeddie
cool songs!
Maxi Priest is awesome! Love all of his music!
His voice is forever beautiful and real.
great song
I saw him at Summerfest and it was an unforgettabl e experience. Maxi has a very sexy voice.
jt735
I consider him to be Caribbean Infused Jazz rather than rock or R&B. I saw him at SunSplash back in 91 which was amazing!!!
robinoden75
Maxi's silky voice sings to my soul. I find myself revisiting his music time and time again. Love me some Maxi Priest.
I really enjoy his music...I love love him too.....
my all time favourite,,l o v e , l o v e , l o v e him.
every since i heard the art of seduction, i fell in love with maxi
u always make my day listening to u
I still love my man Maxie P.
spydermatic0
the best R and B rock star
ensure12
ROCKING
i. like this song
Maxi is da bomb!
loved Maxi since the very first time i listened to one of his songs, a romatic reggea balladire. He is so smooth I saw him preform at the Firestone club in Orlando Fl. years ago he is easy to listen to and easy to look at as well.
Maxi priest is awesome...no w I realize why I like UB40 before Maxi...like them both...but both remind of my favorite...B o b Marley. Thx Pandora for the music to our soul. Patti
meme911
desperately searching for his song "art of seduction" from movie "how Stella got her groove back" ?????????
smooth- body style music
went to two of his shows in trinidad and was forever hooked. was hoping to see him, even get a passing glance whilst living in england- never did, but then slough maybe was too far from lewisham. love yr music
I love Max since i leasten his music 20 years a go it changes my life i am his fan keet up a good work.
rockin
I love him
Maxi is total MUSIC heart and soul. He can get anybody "rocking" to his beat full of feelings. Ok so he is gorgeous also!
Love his music and his voice...make s it feel like heaven listening to him.
joani51
THE BEST !!
Suave!
aduring7
Maxi is my solid foundation to be a reggae fan. When I consider Bob an out of touch out of moral singer I love Maxi. Then I started paying attention to Bob and I never looked back. Am a true reggae fan. I love reggae!!!!
One of Britain's and Reggae's premiere artist. The sky's the limit for Maxi and his voice. He has been bringing us his music for more than 20 years and he does not plan on stopping. He has a way with Lover's Rock Music. Great Music from a man with a lot of versatility in his musical style that will be around for a long time. One Luv!
just love him and his music
lucystt
As I drove past a poster announcing his gig on St. Thomas, I thought to myself, "Maxi Priest" has to be the best name ever for a recording artist!
what can i say that people don't already know about him,hisvoice is very sexy and it's to die for (not literally)
priest lovers rock style is like no other a really talented brother
I LOVE ALL HIS MUSIC AND EVERYTHING HE DOES. HE HAS THE MIDAS TOUCH. TRULY ONE OF THE BEST VOCALS AROUND...LOV E HIM. HE HAS A STYLE OF HIS OWN AND IT WOULD BE RARE TO FIND ANOTHER WHO COULD EVEN COME CLOSE TO HIM...100 IN MY BOOK.
I love all of u're music
rootsdawmaxs
his song, style and his smooth voice stir everyfan heart
OH, I just love maxi priest.

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