Born in 1958 in Kingston, Jamaica, Noel Ellis spent his early childhood in that city's infamous Trenchtown district. The son of reggae-soul singer Alton Ellis, the younger Ellis turned out to have a pretty good voice of his own, and even recorded an unreleased song, "It Has Been a Long Time," backed by the Gladiators, at Channel One while he was still a teenager. Alton left Jamaica and relocated to Toronto, and Noel eventually joined his father there, but soon after Noel's arrival, Alton moved on to England, where he had a significant fan base, and Noel stayed on in Toronto with his aunt and uncle, attending Castle Frank High School. Luckily, Toronto had a lively West Indian population and several record shops that catered to the émigré market, so Ellis was able to keep up on the latest 45s from Jamaica. Toronto developed its own nascent reggae scene by the mid-'70s, much of it based around Jerry Brown's Summer Records.