THE CROWN PRINCE OF REGGAE
Born in Kingston, Jamaica on 1st February 1957, Dennis Emmanuel Brown was hailed as ‘the Crown Prince of Reggae’ in the early ‘80s by Robert Nesta Marley, the ‘King of Reggae’. Marley had passed this title on to his favourite Reggae singer. Unquestionably, Brown is loved the world over like no other Reggae musician and is considered by many (in the fraternity) to be the ‘true’ King of Reggae. He made beautiful music for over three decades and his career was seen as the most fruitful and colourful ever. Brown had made at least 80 albums for some 37 record labels and has produced more Reggae classics than anyone else in the history of Reggae music!
Brown’s career took off at the tender age of twelve. His first hit, ‘No Man Is An Island’, came out of the Studio One stables in 1969. Most would agree that the musical style he had used throughout his career was evident in this first hit. This style is what made Brown stand out from other Reggae acts. He had a deeply poignant voice that remained consistent throughout his musical career. His physical nature was appealing to all - he was a friendly, approachable person that always wore a smile. From the Soul-influenced Reggae tunes of his earliest years, the conscious Roots Reggae of the ‘70s and ‘80s and the ‘best Lovers Rock ever recorded’, Dennis had encapsulated the Reggae world. It is noted that ‘few artists could remain as consistent throughout a 30-year career as Brown and his releases capped an incredible life whilst serving as a reminder of one of Jamaica’s greatest talents’. Whilst at Studio One, Dennis produced another sublime album, ‘If I Follow My Heart’ which, just like ‘No Man Is An Island’, is an all-time classic.
Dennis Emanuel Brown died on 1st July 1999 at the University of the West Indies Hospital. He had become sick at the end of June after a return trip to Miami from Brazil where he had spent a month. Although he never contracted any illness in Brazil, many people that were with him and other bands performing there caught a virus. Leroy Clarke had reported that Dennis was complaining of chills on the plane ride from Miami back to Kingston, Jamaica. He checked into the hospital, seven days later, on 30 June 1999. He died the next morning. The mass media had spread the news and that Brown had died from lung failure related to pneumonia and heart failure. There was significant evidence to suggest that he did live a destructive lifestyle. Clarke’s responses to Brown’s death were very defensive which is understandable. He felt that his brother’s personal life should be kept private. He stated, “I just give Jah thanks and praise for Dennis’ life and what he has contributed to the world through the root of music, regardless of the rumours out there about him, he has done a lot. He has paid his dues. You want to know the true Dennis? Listen to his lyrics. He was singing from the heart”!
As one of Reggae’s greatest Ambassadors, Dennis Emmanuel Brown is affectionately remembered for his immense musical talent, sincerity, humbleness, vocal prowess, lyrics and sheer love for Reggae music.