The Godfather of Rocksteady Alton Ellis’ version of American singer Brenda Holloway’s 1967 song You’ve Made Me So Very Happy has been featured in the ad campaign for German sporting giant Adidas’ Remember the Why 2023 basketball collection.
Ellis’ hit song, which was released in 1970 both on Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One and Trojan/Treasure Isle label, is one of 28 cover versions of Holloway’s song, which has also been sampled in 10 other songs, according to whosampled.com.
Not much has been written about the chart performance of Ellis’ version of the song.
However, the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ), the official repository for Jamaican history and culture, notes that it was in 1970 that Ellis “scored big with his rendition of You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, and the following year, Deliver Us.”
The NLJ also describes the late Kingston native as “one of Jamaica’s most popular singers whose music, though not limited to Rocksteady, was particularly definitive of that era.
“His song Come Do The Rocksteady was the first to include the word rocksteady and as such has historical value in the development of Jamaican music. He had a strong fan base in Jamaica and the Jamaican immigrant community in Britain and unlike other ska and rocksteady artistes at the time he achieved success on the international scene,” the agency noted.
Born in Kingston in 1944, Ellis was raised in Trench Town. In 1959, at age 15, he formed a duo with his friend Eddie Perkins and together, they recorded their first song Muriel, which was produced by Coxsone Dodd. According to the NLJ, the song was an immediate success which topped the Jamaican charts.
According to the NLJ, Ellis left Dodd’s Studio One for his arch-rival Duke Reid’s Treasure Aisle studio, in the early 1960s and subsequently assembled a group called the Flames, which scored with Dance Crasher, one of the biggest hits of 1966.
His song Girl I’ve Got a Date, which came after, is argued by many to be the first Rocksteady recording.
Ellis returned to Studio One, where he recorded songs such as A Fool, which was supposedly one of many songs inspired by “the stormy relationship with his first wife, Pearl”.
His song I’m Still in Love was released in 1967 and was covered by Sean Paul and Sasha, who put a Dancehall touch to it in 2003.
Alton Ellis received the Order of Distinction from the Government of Jamaica in recognition of his contribution to the island’s popular culture in 1994.
He moved to the UK in 1973, even though he continued to record songs in Jamaica, and died in October 2008 of cancer at the Hammersmith Hospital in London.
As for adidas’ Remember the Why campaign, according to the sporting giant, “the new collection, which encompasses sleeveless tees to hoodies, sweatshirts, shorts and track jackets, is crafted to serve the modern athlete while building on pillars of the past” as well as establishes its versatility by focusing on the essentials: form, function and colour.
“The result is a pinnacle assortment that serves to empower and inspire on our journey back to our first Why, whether it was on the hardwood, in a classroom, on stage or at home,” the company noted.
“The 2023 Collection brings together time-tested silhouettes for looks that are undeniably adidas Basketball. It makes any city, street or neighborhood a home court—embodying a refined vision for sportswear that’s rooted in our own Why: a love for hoops and a belief that the game can take you anywhere,” it added.
Ellis’ You’ve Made Me So Very Happy is the second vintage Jamaican mega-hit to be used in music synchronization (the use of parts of a song within movies, television shows, television and radio commercials, and video games), by a global corporate giant in just over a year.
In November 2021, Meta, the new parent company name for Facebook, used UK group SL2’s Way In My Brain (1992), which heavily sampled Wayne Smith’s 1985 hit Under Mi Sleng Teng, in its first video advertisement.
Later that month, Dancehall megastar Shaggy advised his Jamaican musical compatriots to focus more on making records that can be utilized in music synchronization, as these tracks have the potential to generate even more wealth for them.
In a Television Jamaica interview, Shaggy pointed out that Barrington Levy was a prime example of an artiste who has recorded songs that are sought after for music synchronization while noting that the Living Dangerously singer’s sound, language, and melodies were the components that made his songs “great sync records.”