Betty Wright, the influential soul and R&B singer, died on the morning of May 10 at the age of 66. Her cause of death has not been revealed at this time. Wright was a star who had her own record label, Ms. B Records, and publishing company, Miami Spice. She was known for her hits like “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight is the Night.”
The Miami native was married three times, and her third husband was Noel “King Sporty” Williams. They were married in 1985 until his death on January 5, 2015. Wright spoke about her marriages and divorces in 1986, telling the Sun-Sentinel, “I only intended to be married one time. But marriages are made, they don’t just happen. It takes two. Compassion, not passion, keeps a marriage together. You can’t stay in bed all day.”
Here’s what you need to know about King Sporty:
1. King Sporty & Betty Wright Married Were Married From 1985 Until Sporty’s Death in 2015
Sporty and Wright married in 1985 and were married until his death in 2015. According to some reports, the two were separated at the time of his death, but they never divorced and Wright was by Sporty’s bedside in the hospital when he died.
King Sporty’s son from a previous relationship, Yusef Williams, became a hairstylist and is best known for being Rihanna’s hairstylist. After Betty Wright’s death, Yusef posted a tribute to his stepmother on Instagram. He wrote:
You were the glue that kept us all together before and after Daddy passed and now it on us to do the work on our own..thank you thank you thank you so much Mama Betty. for being there for us for loving us unconditionally and also our mothers you were truly a Rock for us all and i’m so blessed that I got to talk to you and tell you how much I loved and appreciated you!
He finished his post by writing: “I pray that you and Daddy are dancing in heaven because I’m sure he’s so happy to see you. Rest well Betty Wright i love you.”
2. He Was a Singer-Songwriter Best Known for Co-Writing Bob Marley’s Famous Hit ‘Buffalo Soldier’
Sporty was a reggae singer-songwriter and best known for co-writing Bob Marley’s famous hit, “Buffalo Soldier.” The song was a tribute to African-American soldiers who fought in the United States Civil War. He recorded the song in the late 1970s for his own record label Konduko, before Marley’s version became a hit after his death in 1981.
In an interview, Wright shared how close Marley and Sporty were. She said, “Bob and Sporty were like brothers. Bob’s mother, God bless her soul, she called Sporty her “son” because they grew up together.” When Sporty died, Bob Marley’s daughter Cedella Marley wrote: “Fly away King Sporty…a true solider.”
3. He Was Known as a Pioneer of the Miami Reggae Scene
After Sporty moved to Miami in the 1970s, he became a staple of the reggae scene in South Florida. The music he produced in Miami ranged from reggae to funk to disco, and he worked with a lot of artists in the region, including Bobby Caldwell, KC and the Sunshine Band and other TK Records artists.
His sound ranged from reggae to disco and he released a few disco hits in the South Florida region like “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Meet Me At The Disco.” He also produced some electro-based songs under the name The Ex Tras.
Sporty self-produced and released the Blues Busters’ “Thinking of You,” which became his best-known song. His contributions to the music scene did not go unnoticed and in 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Reggae and World Music Awards.
4. He Started His Music Career in Jamaica as a DJ for Studio One
Sporty’s career in music started in the 1960s in Kingston, Jamaica. He ended up recording songs for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at his famous Studio One label, according to the Jamaica Observer. He also worked at Studio One as a session player, in addition to being a DJ and producer. In 1965, he released a song titled “El Cid,” which is credited to Sporty and Justin Yap.
5. He Was Born in Portland, Jamaica & Moved to Miami in the 1970s
Her husband, King Sporty, was born in Portland, Jamaica, on September 19, 1943. His parents were Clarence Williams and Olive Rubye Smith. According to his obituary, he would dive into the water and swim to the ships coming into the port. Once on board, he would recommend that the sailors visit his mother as she was the best at washing and ironing uniforms.
He moved to Miami in the late 1960s and soon after created his two record labels, Konduko and Tashamba, as well as his publishing company, Kenemo, all of which were named after his children.
He died in Miami at the University of Miami Hospital at 8:15 pm on January 5, 2015. He was 71 years old. According to his obituary, Sporty was the father of over 20 kids.