Maxi Priest (born Max Alfred Elliott, on 10 June 1961 in Lewisham, London) is an English reggae singer and songwriter .
Priest, who is known as the “King of Lovers Rock”, is of Jamaican descent and the second youngest of nine children. His parents moved to England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their family and he grew up listening to gospel, reggae, R&B, and pop music. His music is sometimes closer to R&B, and pop, than to reggae music itself. His uncle, Jacob Miller, a reggae icon, was the frontman in the popular reggae group Inner Circle and his son, Ryan Elliott, was a member of the boy band Ultimate Kaos. Priest’s musical career began with him singing on the South London reggae soundsystem Saxon Studio International, after which some independent single releases followed. His first major album was the self-titled Maxi Priest (1988) which, along with his cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”, established him as one of the top British reggae singers. He is one of only two British reggae acts (along with UB40) to have a American Billboard number one: “Close to You” in 1990. A duet with Roberta Flack, “Set the Night to Music”, reached the American Top Ten in 1991. His duet with Shaggy in 1996, “That Girl”, was also a hit in the United States, peaking at number twenty. In the latter half of his recording career, Priest has favoured working alongside other artists, both established and up and coming. He has worked with Sly & Robbie, Shaggy, Beres Hammond, Jazzie B, Apache Indian, Roberta Flack, Shurwayne Winchester, Shabba Ranks and Lee Ritenour. It was reported in some newspapers in the Birmingham area, including the Birmingham Mail on 13 March 2008, that Priest would be replacing Ali Campbell as the new lead singer of UB40, and that he had recorded a cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” with the band, based on information from “an unnamed source close to the band.” Priest had joined UB40 on tour in 2007, culminating in sell out shows at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Solihull in December. Another local newspaper, the Express & Star that had reported that Priest would be the new UB40 frontman, included a statement from band spokesman Gerard Franklyn which contradicted the claim, stating “Maxi is collaborating with the band to record material but he won’t be the new lead singer, that will be Duncan Campbell, the brother of Ali and Robin Campbell. He will only be appearing with them for this new recording.”
Maxi Priest in popular culture
In the animated American television comedy series, South Park, the character of Father Maxi (also known as Priest Maxi) is a play on the name of Maxi Priest, though the character is a Catholic priest who serves as the mouthpiece for South Park’s Christian community.
* You’re Safe (1985)
* Intentions (1986) #96 UK
* Maxi Priest (1988) #108 U.S.; #25 UK
* Bonafide (1990) #47 U.S.; #11 UK
* Fe Real (1992) #191 U.S.; #60 UK
* Man With The Fun (1996) #108 U.S.
* CombiNation (1999)
* 2 The Max (2005)
* Refused (2007)
* Best of Me (1991) #23 UK
* Collection (2000)