Few people outside of the Caribbean knew who Bob Marley was when Danny Sims heard him perform in 1968. But Mr. Sims knew Marley was something special right away.
“What I heard,” he recalled years later, “was the next Bob Dylan.”
Mr. Sims, a music producer, publisher and promoter, promptly signed Marley to his first international publishing and recording contracts, setting him on the road to becoming the first reggae superstar.
Mr. Sims died of colon cancer on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles, his daughter, Anansa Sims-Patterson, said. He was 75.
His death was not widely reported at the time. “He was always a very private person,” said the filmmaker Rudy Langlais, who had recently been working on a documentary film about Mr. Sims.
Danny Drew Sims was born on Nov. 9, 1936, in Hattiesburg, Miss., and moved with his family to Memphis and later Chicago. After service in the Army, where he played football on a team that traveled throughout Europe, he moved to New York and opened a supper club, Sapphire’s, near Times Square, which he liked to claim was “the first black-owned club south of 110th Street.”
It was there that he met a teenage singer named Johnny Nash. Mr. Sims went on to become Mr. Nash’s manager, and the two of them founded a record label, JoDa, later renamed JAD, whose roster would include Gloria Gaynor, Betty Wright and Lloyd Price. (Mr. Nash had a No. 1 hit in 1972 with “I Can See Clearly Now.”)
In 1967 Mr. Sims and Mr. Nash traveled to Jamaica…
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