Singer, born Shirley Kay, Linstead St Katherine, Jamaica, 1948, She was the most successful female singer who recorded for Duke Reid?s Treasure Isle label in the late sixties and early seventies.
She started off singing in school and at church. Influenced by American singers such as Dionne Warwick and Connie Francis she began singing in talent contests in Kingston. It was during a performance at the Glass Bucket Club in Kingston with The Vulcans that she came to the attention of guitarist and arranger Lynn Taitt, the man who most people would say invented the new Rocksteady style that swept Jamaica in the late 60s. He introduced her to legendary producer and Treasure Isle label owner Duke Reid. It was at this time she decided to change her name and from then on she became known as Phyllis Dillon. This meeting signalled the beginning of her reign as the Queen of Rocksteady.
The first song she recorded at Treasure Isle was ?Don?t Stay Away? which she wrote on her own whilst Tommy McCook and The Supersonics provided the backing music. It instantly became a huge hit but at just 19 and, like many Jamaicans, knowing nothing about royalties and copyright laws (basically, at this time in Jamaica, there weren?t any !) she reportedly only ever received £5 from Reid, the amount she was paid at the recording session.
Disillusioned with the music business she moved to New York in 1967 but despite this she regularly returned to Jamaica to record for Duke Reid, figuring that all the producers were the same and if she wanted to sing she would just have to accept things as they were. More hits followed such as ?Perfidia?, ?The Right Track? (a duet with Hopeton Lewis), ?One Life To Live?, ? Woman of the Ghetto? and a version of Stephen Stills? rock hit ?Love The One You?re With?
Back in New York she got married and had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. Sadly, the marriage ended and to make ends meet she took many odd jobs and eventually became a bank teller. However, her desire to sing never left her and she would frequently travel back to Jamaica. Later she would go on to tour London, Germany and Japan.
In1998 Phyllis Dillon returned to the recording studio with Lynn Taitt and she remained active in the music business up until her death in 2004