Winston ‘John’ Holt (11 July 1947 – 19 October 2014) first found fame in music as the lead vocalist for the much loved ska group The Paragons, best known for groovy hits like, ‘Memories By The Score’, and ’The Tide Is High’, the latter written by Holt, and later successfully covered by Blondie.

Then one day, in the late sixties Holt took a strange turn into the centre of his mind, and emerged with an odd tale from the crypts of psychedelia.

Here’s parts of what he told us:

My dream last night was about Ali Baba
With the forty thieves
Tom, Tom, the piper’s son
He was there with me

Sung is his trademark soft and tender voice, his poetic rambles are nothing but pure joy to listen to.

I rode through the valley
With the princess by my side
The Duke and the Duchess
Was there to meet me with a smile

It’s also been speculated that the Duke and Duchess is a reference to producer Duke Reid and his Duchess record label.

The tune is wrapped up in exotic elements, it’s silly and playful almost like a nursery rhyme and especially the dreamy flute played by Tommy McCook, which is from somewhere outta this world.

Alice was there in a Wonderland
Staring far away
The three blind mice was there with me
To tell the Teddy bear the tale

Ali Baba’ is a stand-out track and probably the first (and maybe the last) psychedelic Jamaican song ever to grace our ears.

Now go on, and take the journey with one of reggae’s finest tunes.


Words: Anders Knudsen