The Grammy, Emmy and Tony winning star died of congestive heart failure at his New York home on Tuesday, with his wife by his side, according to a spokesperson.
Reluctantly nicknamed “The King of Calypso”, he was largely responsible for bringing Caribbean music to an international audience in the 1950s, and the first singer – in any genre -to sell a million records in a year.
His song Jump In The Line (Shake, Senora) had a recent resurgence, going viral on TikTok in 2020, and featuring in the 1988 film Beetlejuice, as did his signature song Banana Boat (Day-O).
One of the first black performers to gain a wide following on film, he starred in movies including Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun and Odds Against Tomorrow.
Just last year, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, becoming the oldest person ever to receive the honor.
Alongside his sparkling Hollywood career, he was a committed activist, working closely with Martin Luther King Jr during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.