One of 1980’s Dancehall Leading Voices, Tony Tuff has passed away at age 69

In the rootsman era of 1980s dancehall, Tony Tuff was among that genre’s leading voices. The singer, best known for songs like Girl I’ve Got to Get You and Come fi Mash It, died on April 20 at the Kingston Public Hospital at age 69.

Wilda Burnett-Morris, his wife of 15 years, confirmed his death. She said he had fought diabetes-related illnesses in recent years and underwent surgery four days before his death.

Tony Tuff, whose real name was Winston Anthony Morris, hailed from the Trench Town-Rose Town areas of Kingston, which has produced a number of famous artistes. His own career started during the early 1970s as a member of The African Brothers, a teen harmony trio that also included Sugar Minott.

After that group folded, Tony Tuff went solo. It was not until the early 1980s that he hit the charts with a string of hard-hitting roots songs including Girl I’ve Got to Get You, Come fi Mash It,  Deliver Me and Run Come.

He was a member of producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano label which erupted in the early 1980s on the strength of the sensational deejay Yellowman, the prodigious teen singer Barrington Levy and talented singer/producer Linval Thompson.

Typical of the era, most of his hit songs were recorded at Channel One on classic Studio One and Treasure Isle beats. They helped make Tony Tuff, along with fellow singers Sugar Minott, Michael Palmer, Tenor Saw and Junior Reid, staples on Jamaican radio and in dances.

Tony Tuff also gained a following in the United Kingdom where Volcano’s songs were distributed by the rising Greensleeves Records.

Like most of his contemporaries, his career floundered with the emergence of digital beats in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, little was heard of Tony Tuff even though he remained active as a recording artiste and made sporadic appearances on so-called vintage shows.

Tony Tuff is survived by his wife, six children and grandchildren.

By Howard Campbell