Millie (born Millicent Dolly May Small on 6 October 1946) is a Jamaican singer-songwriter, often known as “Little Millie Small”, and in the United States as “Millie Small”, and is best known as the singer of the 1964 hit, “My Boy Lollipop”.
Millie is the daughter of a sugar plantation overseer. In her teens, she and Roy Panton recorded for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One record label as ‘Roy and Millie. ‘They had a minor local hit with “We’ll Meet”.
In late 1963 she went to Forest Hill, London, to make her fourth recording, an Ernest Ranglin rearrangement of “My Boy Lollipop”, originally released by Barbie Gaye in late 1956. Released in March 1964, Small’s cover was a massive hit, reaching number two both in the UK Singles Chart and in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the chart in Australia. Initially it sold over 600,000 copies in the United Kingdom. Including singles sales, album usage and compilation inclusions, the song has since sold more than seven million copies worldwide.
“My Boy Lollipop” was doubly significant in British pop music history. It was the first major hit for Island Records (although it was actually released via Fontana Records because Chris Blackwell, Island’s owner, did not want to overextend the label’s then-meagre resources; in the U.S. the record appeared on the Smash Records subsidiary of Mercury Records), and Small was the first artist to have a hit that was recorded in the bluebeat style. (She was billed as ‘The Blue Beat Girl’ on the single’s label in the U.S.) This was a music genre that had recently emerged from Jamaica, and which, as with ska, was a direct ancestor of reggae.
Millie continued to tour and perform up to the early 1970s.
She had a brief relationship with Peter Asher of the 1960s duo Peter & Gordon.
She lived in Singapore from 1971 to 1973 before returning to the UK which is now her home. She has an adult daughter, who is studying art and the music industry.