Founded by Mr. Llewellyn and his schoolmate Earl Morgan, the Heptones rose from singing on the streets of Trenchtown to take their place alongside the Wailers and the Maytals as one of the island’s most important vocal groups. As Jamaican popular music shifted from the hard-driving ska beat to a dreamier sound known as rock steady, the Heptones were among the most consistent hit makers in reggae, with romantic records like “Sweet Talking” and “Party Time.”
Although Leroy Sibbles wrote and sang lead on most of the group’s songs, he credited Mr. Llewellyn — also known to friends and fans as Barry Heptones — for his creative influence. “He was more than a member of the group,” Mr. Sibbles said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “Barry had more talent than the other guys who were singing with us. He was more musical. He added more inspiration.”
Usually responsible for singing harmonies, Mr. Llewellyn took the lead on songs like “Nine Pounds of Steel” and “Take Me Darling” as well as the Heptones’ biggest international hit, “Book of Rules,” which he adapted from “Bag of Tools,” a poem by R. L. Sharpe.