July 18, 1999 Published at 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Reggae star's musical funeral
was marked by musical tributes
Thousands of people danced to reggae music on the streets
of Kingston to mark the
funeral of Dennis Brown, the singer who took over from Bob
Marley as Jamaica's
"Crown Prince of Reggae".
The dreadlocked singer, who was one of the best loved and
most influential exponents of the genre, died on 1 July from
pneumonia after years of illness. He was 42.
Born in Kingston in 1957, he was seen as a child prodigy in
the 1960s and went on to record many hits, including How Could
I Leave and Here I Come. Despite a national outpouring of grief,
Brown's funeral was an event marked by music and dance.
queued to pay their respects
Crowds packed into the National Arena to watch a live tribute
concert. Brown's five sons were among the performers, as well
as reggae artists Maxi Priest and Shaggy.
Prime Minister PJ Patterson described Brown's music as "a sweet
song and soothing balm for our nation."
Brown became the first entertainer to be buried at Kingston's
National Heroes Park. In the two days before the funeral,
more than 10,000 mourners spent hours filing past the casket
where Brown lay.
Brown rose to prominence in the 1970s wave of reggae singers,
that included Bob Marley. He released more than 50 albums.
His first hit song was No Man is an Island - which he recorded
in 1969 at the age of 12.
Thanks for the music, Dennis Brown
DENNIS Brown was only 42 when he died on Thursday morning
at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Few younger
Jamaicans may have realised Dennis Brown's relative youth;
older ones would have reminded themselves of the fact. They
would have to recall that Dennis Brown was once called the
Boy Wonder; that he was a pre-teen when he began thrilling
Jamaican popular music audiences three decades ago.
Over the next several weeks, and in the months to come, many
will eulogize Dennis Brown for his singing; reflecting on
his smooth mellow style and his vocal range. Many will agree
with producer Mikey Bennett's assessment that Dennis Brown
was "the best thing that ever happened to a reggae song".
Even if he wasn't, he came pretty close to it.
He may not have had the crisp clear voice of John Holt, the
infectiousness of that other rock steady great, Alton Ellis
or the unrestrained charisma of Bob Marley. But there is an
inviting silkiness about a Dennis Brown song that incites
romance, yet at times there is melancholy. The same Dennis
Brown may swing from the deceptive ease of Silhouettes to
the unrestrained urgency of a song like Revolution,becoming
the social firebrand ready to take up arms on behalf of the
Life is often full of what-ifs and what-may-have-beens. So
there will be the questions of why Dennis Brown, for all his
talent and prolific output, did not achieve the international
recognition of a Marley or even a Jimmy Cliff. There are things
that he might have done differently to ensure the breakthrough
that would have moved him, in public perception, beyond that
status of king in waiting.
But Dennis Brown's legacy will be more than today's fame.
For his greatness includes something very few entertainers,
and more so purveyors of popular culture, are ever able to
achieve. He remained popular and current for 30 years, from
the rocksteady days of Sir Coxone Dodd's Studio One through
the revolutionary reggae era of the 1970s and into the 1990s,
when he still held audiences with his special blend of lovers'
He transited it all without ever compromising his role as
a serious musician.
Dennis Brown will no longer weave his spell of vocal magic
on the stages of Jamaica and elsewhere in the world; but happily
he has been captured for eternity on compact discs and vinyl
recordings. Thanks for the joy you provided, Dennis Brown.
News of the sudden death this morning of reggae superstar Dennis
popularly called the Crown Prince of Reggae has rocked the local
Early reactions were gathered by THE STAR from persons who knew
the boy wonder
who started his career at age 12, and developed his craft, to
be dubbed unofficial "Crown Prince ."
Derrick Harriott, who was Brown's first producer back in the
'60s described him as,
"One of the greatest exponents
of reggae music." He said Brown, whose last public performance
locally was in December at the Best of Heineken Startime, was
always smiling and never shrugged off anyone. Michael Barnett,
promoter of the Heineken Startime series,
in remembering Brown said this:
"Next to Bob Marley
this is the greatest loss for the Jamaican music industry.
I don't think we will see a second to him in our lifetime."
The promoter said he had been working with Brown on a project
and later this evening they were to have done an interview and
photo shoot."He is a man that always delivers. It is unfortunate
that this time he couldn't deliver physically, but I am sure
he will be there in spirit," he said.
Barnett said at the time when he heard the news of his death
he was listening to
Brown's album 'Inseparable' which was being played by his neighbour.
Local singer Richie Stephens said he had always seen Dennis
as one of the greatest reggae artistes. "He has always
been my idol, the person I wanted to sound like, to be like
and wish to meet," Stephens said. He said when he met Brown
he came to know that he was a great person- humble, respectable
"Reggae has lost a great asset, may
his soul rest in peace," Stephens said.
Dennis Brown: a pioneer and cultural icon
2nd July, 1999
Winner of the Swing award for top singer
in 1972, Dennis Brown (left) receives his plaque from
Minister of Industry and Tourism P.J. Patterson, currently Jamaica's
PRIME MINISTER P. J. Patterson, on behalf of the Government,
Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, Bruce Golding for the National
Democratic Movement (NDM) and individual politicians, yesterday
paused to pay tribute to the memory of Dennis Brown.
"Over the years, Dennis Brown has distinguished himself
as one of the finest and most talented musicians of our time,"
said a news release from the Prime Minister.
"The Crown Prince of Reggae as he was commonly called
has left us with a vast repertoire of songs which will continue
to satisfy the hearts and minds of Jamaicans for generations
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Edward Seaga expressed
shock at the death of the musician. "I remember 'Little
Dennis Brown' as we called him in the '60s being a part of
my youth in West Kingston," said Mr. Seaga, recalling
Brown's first performance at the National Arena before an
audience that included then Prime Minister Hugh Shearer.
JLP Member of Parliament Babsy Grange also reminisced about
the Dennis Brown of West Kingston.
"He was one of our shining stars," she said, "one
we loved dearly. We shall miss him and his great musical performances."
The death of Brown, the fifth international Jamaican artiste
to pass away this year, "means that we'll be entering
the new millennium poorer artistically," Miss Grange
Extending sympathies to the Brown family and members of the
music fraternity, the NDM's Bruce Golding noted that "Jamaica
has lost a gifted and powerful musician.
JLP MP for South Clarendon Mike Henry described Brown as
one of the pioneers and "im-parters of the soul and spirit
of Jamaica's music.
Record Collector UK. Obituary
Dennis Brown, one of reggae's most popular performers, died
at the University Hospital of West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica
on 1st July, reports Laurence Cane-Honeysett. The 42-year old
singer was rushed to hospital on the evening of the 30th June,
but following a cardiac arrest, he died in the early hours of
the following morning.
Born Dennis Emanuel Brown on 1st February, 1957, his recording
career began when he was only thirteen, cutting "No Man
Is An Island" for producer Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd in 1970.
After spending two fruitful years with Dodd, Brown worked with
a variety of producers, most notably Derrick Harriott, Joe Gibbs
and Winston 'Niney' Holness. In 1979, "Money In My Pocket"
provided the singer with a European hit, reaching No. 14 in
the UK. Shortly afterwards, Brown moved to London where he launched
his own Yvonne's Special label and signed to A&M. In 1982,
his standing as one of the most outstanding vocalists in reggae
music was re-affirmed with two further chart-entries, "Love
Has Found It's Way" (No. 47) and "Halfway Up Halfway
Down" (No.56) along with the best-selling album, "The
Prophet Rides Again".
Dennis Brown, 42, Reggae Singer
With an Enduringly Sweet Style
By NEIL STRAUSS
Dennis Brown, a popular and prolific Jamaican reggae singer,
died on Thursday at University Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica.
He was 42. The cause was respiratory failure, said a spokesman
for Heartbeat Records, which has released several of Brown's
Born in Kingston, Mr. Brown had already perfected his sweet
singing style and had his first reggae hit by the time he
was 12, with the single "No Man Is an Island," recorded
at Studio One. He soon began branching out, working with producers
like Winston (Niney) Holness and Joe Gibbs, with whom he recorded
many of his most popular songs.
Known for his gentle, beseeching voice -- one of the best
of his generation -- he mixed soulful love songs with universal
pleas calling for peace and harmony. As reggae trends changed
from lovers' rock to dance-hall to digital music, Mr. Brown
floated easily into each new style. His many hits included
"Westbound Train," "Baby Don't Do It,"
"Ghetto Girl" and "The Look of Love."
He had several hits in Britain, including "Money in
My Pocket," and in the early 1980's signed with A &
M Records and lived for several years in London. Nicknamed
"Emmanuel, the Crown Prince of Reggae," Mr. Brown
recorded more than 50 albums. This year alone he had already
released three records, with a fourth on the way, each one
for a different independent label. He was nominated for a
Grammy Award for his album "Light My Fire," released
"I was once young and now I'm old," he sings on
one of his albums from this year, "Bless Me Jah."
"And through all the changes in life, mankind has grown
cold/Where is the love and happiness that we ought to share?"
He is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and 13 children, according
to Radio Jamaica.
The Dennis Emanuel Brown Trust
Latham Avenue, Kingston 6
Telephone (876) 960 0697 - Facsimile (876) 946 1838
Website - dennisbrowntrust.com
The Dennis Emanuel
Brown Trust has the following objectives:
- to help alleviate poverty through creating and enhancing
- to ensure the maintenance and advancement of the memory
of the life and works of
Dennis Emanuel Brown
- to assist in the procurement of musical instruments that
will enable the development of an appreciation in students
of the performing arts and see themselves as contributors
to the Jamaican culture
- to provide opportunities that will allow for educational
empowerment and the development of skills that are needed
by citizens of the 21st century
25/09/20 8:09 PM