Calton Coffie, the former lead singer of Inner Circle’s biggest hits, has passed away at the age of 68.

The Reggae singer’s daughter Eruth Spencer confirmed that he died in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on February 2, 2023. She was unable to provide the cause of death but said her father had been battling diabetes for years.

“My dad always had diabetes… he started to get sick when he was with the band Inner Circle which is what caused him leaving,” Spencer told DancehallMag

“Since then, he’s always had diabetes. A lot of people were trying to reach out to him;  myself, my brother, his siblings…people he talks to all the time and we did not get any response from him since January. I think February 1st was the last time any family member talked to him and then February 2nd, is when we learned later on, that he had passed away,” she added.

Calton Coffie

Coffie was with Inner Circle from 1986 to 1994 as lead vocalist, percussionist, and keyboard player on five of the Reggae group’s albums, after which he began performing solo under the moniker Hot Cup of Coffie, based in the United Kingdom. 

He’s best known for providing vocals on Inner Circle’s Bad Boys — the theme song for the COPS TV series, which was later used in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence Bad Boys film (1995), Tom Cruise’s Minority Report (2002), and several other films and TV Series.

Coffie also voiced the band’s Sweat (A La La La La Long), which recently earned a Gold Certification in the United Kingdom after selling over 400,000 copies in the country, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Spencer, who was a little girl at the time of filming, had made a cameo appearance in the music video for Sweat.

A screenshot from the ‘Sweat’ video. Eruth is the little girl in pink.

She lamented the lack of recognition that her father has received on a global scale for his contributions to the Reggae genre.

“People often think that it’s Bob Marley [that sings Sweat]. Some people will know that it’s Inner Circle, but they won’t know the name of the singer of the band and I think that’s because Inner Circle has never stated his name as the singer of the band after he departed. I don’t know how much they stated his name while they were together, so I don’t wanna disparage. It could’ve been that they always announced themselves as Inner Circle but I have read articles where they mentioned the new lead singer,” she said.

Sweat and Bad Boys, both produced by band members Ian Lewis, Roger Lewis, and Touter Harvey, appeared on Inner Circle’s 12th studio album Bad To The Bone in 1992.

Sweat spent 25 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 16, and 19 weeks on the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at No. 3. Bad Boys spent 20 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, where it reached No. 8, and 3 weeks on the UK Chart where it reached No. 52.

In the US, the Bad To The Bone album was re-issued under the title Bad Boys, which spent 49 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, where it peaked at No. 64.

The Bad Boys album won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1994.

The following year the band earned their second Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album with their follow-up album Reggae Dancer with Coffie as lead singer.

Games People Play, which appeared on the Reggae Dancer album, spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 84, and two weeks on the UK Singles chart, peaking at No. 67.

A screenshot from the “Games People Play” music video. From left: Azelio “David” Spencer, Eruth Spencer, Tafari Coffie.

Formed in 1968, Inner Circle is led by brothers and co-founders Roger and Ian Lewis.

Reggae legend Jacob Miller was recruited to the group as lead vocalist in 1974 until he died in 1980.

Bernard “Touter” Harvey has been a member since 1973, while the other current members, Lancelot Hall, Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick and
Andre Philips, joined in later years.

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