Artiste Tribute: Dennis Brown February 1, 1957 – July 1, 1999

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Dennis Brown was born on 1 February 1957 at Jubilee Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. His father, Arthur, was a scriptwriter, actor, and journalist. Dennis Brown grew up in a large tenement yard between North Street and King Street in Kingston, with his parents, three elder brothers and a sister. Sadly, his mother passed away in the 1960s while he was still a child.

Dennis Brown attended Central Branch Primary School and later St. Stephens College. He began his singing career at the early age of nine. His first public performance was at an end-of-term school concert.

Brown's first professional appearance came at the age of eleven, when he visited a local club where his brother, Basil, was performing a comedy routine. There, he made a guest appearance with the club's resident group, the Fabulous Falcons.

Brown's first recording was an original song called Lips of Wine for producer Derrick Harriott, but when this was not released, he recorded for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One label; his first session with Studio One yielded the single No Man is an Island, recorded in 1969 when Brown was just twelve years old, and released later that year.

Brown recorded up to a dozen sessions for Dodd, producing approximately thirty songs. He also worked as a back-up singer on sessions by other artistes; this included providing harmonies along with Horace Andy and Larry Marshall on Alton Ellis's Sunday Coming album.

In 1972, Brown began an association that would result in his breakthrough as an internationally successful artiste; he was asked by Joe Gibbs to record an album, and one of the tracks recorded as a result, Money in My Pocket, was a hit with UK reggae audiences and quickly became a favorite of his live performances. This original version of Money in My Pocket was in fact produced by Winston "Niney" Holness on behalf of Gibbs.

With continuing commercial success, Brown signed an international deal with A&M Records in 1981. Now based permanently in the UK, A&M Records released Brown's first album for the label; that album was the Gibbs-produced Foul Play, which while not wholly a success, included the roots tracks The Existence of Jah and The World is Troubled. This was followed in 1982 by Love Has Found its Way, a Gibbs/Brown/Willie Lindo production, which blended lovers rock with a more "pop" sound, and again was not a great success.

In 1984, he collaborated with Gregory Isaacs on the album Two Bad Superstars Meet. A resulting hit single, Let aaf Sum'n, recorded with Sly & Robbie and Jammy, was followed by a second album Judge Not featuring the two stars in 1985. Brown released a huge amount of work throughout the 1980s, including the 1986 Jammy-produced album The Exit. However, his biggest success of the decade came in 1989 with the Gussie Clarke-produced duet with Isaacs Big All Round and the album Unchallenged.

In the late 1990s Brown was managed by Tommy Cowan, who contrasted Brown with Bob Marley, another artiste he had managed, stating
Bob Marley was a serious businessman. I don't think Dennis was as serious when it came to investment. Dennis was like a community person, he would earn money and in one hour he would give it away.
Bob Marley cited Brown as his favorite singer, dubbing him "the crown prince of reggae." Brown would prove hugely influential on future generations of reggae singers.

In the late 1990s, Brown's health began to deteriorate, with longstanding respiratory problems exacerbated by cocaine use leading to his illness in May 1999. The singer fell ill after touring in Brazil with other reggae singers, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. After returning to Kingston, Jamaica, on the evening of 30 June 1999, he was rushed to Kingston's University Hospital, suffering from cardiac arrest. Brown died the next day; the official cause of death was a collapsed lung. Dennis Brown was survived by his wife, Yvonne, and thirteen children.

Studio Albums:
1970 - No Man is an Island (Studio One)
1971 - If I Follow My Heart (Studio One)
1972 - Super Reggae & Soul Hits (Crystal/Trojan)
1974 - The Best of Dennis Brown (Joe Gibbs) aka Best of Part 1 (1979, Joe Gibbs)
1975 - Deep Down (Observer), reissued in 1979 as So Long Rastafari (Harry J)
1975 - Just Dennis (Observer/Trojan)
1977 - Superstar (Micron)
1977 - Wolf & Leopards (DEB/Weed Beat)
1977 - Dennis Brown Meets Harry Hippy (Pioneer)(with Harry Hippy)
1978 - Westbound Train (Third World), aka Africa (Celluloid)
1978 - Visions of Dennis Brown (Joe Gibbs)
1979 - Joseph's Coat Of Many Colors (DEB)
1979 - Words of Wisdom (Joe Gibbs/Atlantic)
1980 - Spellbound (Joe Gibbs/Laser)
1981 - Money In My Pocket (Trojan)
1981 - Foul Play (Joe Gibbs/A&M)
1982 - Best Of Part 2 (Joe Gibbs)
1982 - Love Has Found Its Way (Joe Gibbs/A&M) (UK #72)[55]
1982 - More (Yvonne's Special)
1982 - Stage Coach Showcase (Yvonne's Special)
1982 - Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow (Joe Gibbs)
1983 - Satisfaction Feeling (Yvonne's Special/Tad's)
1983 - The Prophet Rides Again (A&M)
1984 - Judge Not (with Gregory Isaacs) (Music Works/Greensleeves)
1984 - Two Bad Superstars (with Gregory Isaacs) (Burning Sounds)
1984 - Love's Got A Hold On Me (Joe Gibbs)
1984 - Revolution (Taxi/Yvonne's Special)
1984 - Reggae Super Stars Meet (with Horace Andy) (Striker Lee)
1985 - Slow Down (Music Works/Greensleeves)
1985 - Wake Up (Natty Congo)
1985 - Wild Fire (with John Holt) (Natty Congo)
1986 - Brown Sugar (Taxi)
1986 - Baalgad (with Enos McLeod) (Goodies)
1986 - History (Live & Love)
1986 - Hold Tight (Live & learn)
1986 - The Exit (Jammy's)
1987 - So Amazing (with Janet Kay) (Trojan)
1988 - Inseparable (WKS)
1989 - No Contest (with Gregory Isaacs) (Music Works/Greensleeves)
1989 - Death Before Dishonour (Tappa)
1989 - Good Vibrations (Yvonne's Special)
1990 - Over Proof (Greensleeves)
1990 - Unchallenged (Music Works/Greensleeves)
1990 - Reggae Giants (with Freddie McGregor) (Rocky One)
1990 - Sarge (Yvonne's Special)
1991 - Victory is Mine (Legga/RAS)
1992 - Another Day in Paradise (Trojan)
1992 - Beautiful Morning (World Record)
1992 - Blazing (Two Friends/Shanachie/Greensleeves)
1992 - Friends For Life (Black Scorpio/Shanachie)
1992 - Limited Edition (Artistic/VP/Greensleeves)
1992 - If I Didn't Love You
1992 - Cosmic (Observer)
1993 - Cosmic Force (Heartbeat)
1993 - The General (VP)
1993 - Legit (with Freddie McGregor & Cocoa Tea) (Greensleeves/Shanachie)
1993 - Rare Grooves Reggae Rhythm & Blues (Body Music/Yvonne's Special)
199? - Rare Grooves Reggae Rhythm & Blues vol. 2 (Yvonne's Special)
1993 - Songs of Emanuel (Yvonne's Special/Sonic Sounds)
1993 - Unforgettable (Jammy's)
1993 - Hotter Flames (with Frankie Paul) (VP)
1993 - Give Praises (Tappa)
1993 - It's The Right Time
1994 - 3 Against War (with Triston Palmer & Beenie Man) (VP)
1994 - Blood Brothers (with Gregory Isaacs) (RAS)
1994 - Light My Fire (Heartbeat)
1994 - Nothing Like This (Greensleeves/RAS)
1994 - Party Time (with John Holt) (Sonic Sounds)
1994 - Vision of the Reggae King (Gold Mine/VP)
1995 - I Don't Know (Grapevine/Dynamite)
1995 - Temperature Rising (Trojan)
1995 - Dennis Brown and Friends (with Sugar Minott & Justin Hinds) (Jamaican Authentic Classics)
1995 - The Facts of Life (Diamond Rush)
1995 - You Got the Best of Me (Saxon)
1996 - Could It Be (VP)
1996 - Lovers Paradise (House of Reggae)
1996 - Milk & Honey (RAS)
1997 - Meet at the Penthouse (with Leroy Smart) (Rhino)
1998 - One of a Kind (Imaj)
1999 - Believe in Yourself (Don One/TP)
1999 - Bless Me Jah (RAS/Charm)
1999 - Generosity (Gator)
 

Comments

#2
Good job on the article. I learned a few things I didn't know about D. Brown. It is good that he left his mark on Reggae & on this World. Gone but not forgotten.
 
#3
tanks mi doops. luv di article. mi did tink mi hav all a db album...but mi missing 5 a dem. gud drop.