Born in Kingston, Jamaica as Orville Richard Burrell, he was nicknamed Shaggy after the Scooby Doo character. He moved to live with his mother in Flatbush New York, and began playing with a local group called Gibraltar Musik, a Jamaican style sound system. Steady income, however, became more important, so in 1988 he joined the Marines. While in, he continued to work on music in his free time, and frequently traveled to New York to record. He recorded his first single Man a Mi Yard at age 20, and followed it up with 'Big Hood', both on Don One's independent label.
He then got a gig recording DubPlates for Phillip Smart's studio, and produced 'Mampie' which became very popular. The follow up, 'Big Up' was even more popular locally. These were some of the first duets with a Brooklyn singer named Rayvon. Then in 1991, he was called to duty for a five-month tour in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Upon returning to Camp Jejune he continued recording and released a cover of The Folkes Brothers' ska hit 'Oh, Carolina.' The song was originally recorded with Prince Buster's label, but it became more popular when it was given a dancehall update with a 'Peter Gunn' sample. In 1992 it received some international promotion and made it to the top of the charts in the UK, and several other European countries.
Even though 'Oh Carolina' was added to the Sharon Stone movie 'Sliver', it still wasn't much of a success in the US. It remained at the lower end of the charts, as did several of his other singles. Virgin Records signed him on grounds of 'Oh Carolina' success overseas, and a duet with Maxi Priest. He released Pure Pleasure in 1993, which contained many of his early singles, and then released Boombastic in 1995, which gave further momentum to his rise to fame in the US. The title track went to number 3 on the pop charts and number one on the R&B charts, selling over a million copies. It also went to the top of the UK charts, spent a year at the top of Billboard's Reggae chart, and won a Grammy for 'Best Reggae Album.' He toured in support of this album worldwide and recorded another duet, also a hit, called 'That Girl' with Maxi Priest in 1996.
In 1997 he released 'Midnight Lover' and it was a relative flop in the US. Virgin took this to mean that his popularity had passed and dropped him from their roles. Not shaken by this turn of events he began getting his songs on movie soundtracks, and eventually signed with MCA. He then released Hot Shot, MCA's biggest selling Reggae album ever. Starting off slowly in 2000, the first single, 'Dance and Shout', flopped in the US. However, a DJ in Hawaii found and downloaded 'It Wasn't Me' off Napster and began playing it on his show. It soon became a national hit, and went to number one. The follow up,'Angel', a remake of a country song called 'Angel Of The Morning' with Rayvon on vocals went straight to number one, and the album sold over 6 million copies, unheard of for a Reggae album.
Shaggy has since had two greatest hits albums, one released by Virgin comprised of music while on their label, while MCA released Hot Shot Ultramix, and his latest release, Lucky Day. He continues touring and making music as he has for the last decade.