'My Boy Lollipop' Singer Millie Small Dead of Stroke at 72: 'She Was Really Special'

"Millie opened the door for Jamaican music to the world," Island Records founder Chris Blackwell said in a statement

Millie Small
Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty

Jamaican singer Millie Small has died from a stroke at the age of 72, according to several reports.

A representative for her music label, Island Records, said she died on Tuesday "after having been taken ill" over the weekend, USA Today reported.

"Millie Small was a true original, a wonderful human being and will be dearly missed by everyone," their statement said, according to the outlet.

Island Records did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Millie Small
Millie Small. Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Small, born in Jamaica to a sugar plantation overseer, was discovered by the record label's founder, Chris Blackwell in 1963. She was best known for her hit rendition of Barbie Gaye's "My Boy Lollipop," which reached the No. 2 spot in both the United States and the United Kingdom in 1964.

The song remains one of the biggest-selling ska songs of all time, with over seven million sales, according to the BBC.

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"I would say she's the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record," Blackwell told the Jamaica Observer. "It became a hit pretty much everywhere in the world. I went with her around the world because each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it."

"She was such a sweet person, really a sweet person. Very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special," he added.

Millie Small
Millie Small. Doreen Spooner/Mirrorpix/Getty

Before meeting Blackwell, she began her recording career in her mid-teens, producing singles with Jamaica’s legendary Studio One label in Kingston.

Small later had another U.K. chart-topper in 1964 with her single "Sweet William." However, it only reached No. 30 and would be her only other Top 40 hit.

She is survived by her 36-year-old daughter, Jaelee, who followed in her mother's footsteps and is also a singer.

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