Dennis Brown – aka The Crown Prince – who died last week at 42 from complications with his breathing arising from asthma had been a mainstay of the Jamaican music industry for nearly 30 years – he began recording as a teenager, eventually becoming one of the biggest stars to emerge from the legendary Joe Gibbs’ Studio One setup – and scored his first big hit in 1972 with ‘Money In My Pocket’. He continued recording with the producer of that record Winston ‘Niney’ Holmes and scored a string of Jamaican and international hits.
Although Brown was then and remained a devout Rastafarian, unlike, say, Burning Spear, Brown recorded love songs and pop songs as well as more militant ‘dread’ statements and established himself as the top artist on the Jamaican scene in the 70s, rivalled only by Gregory Isaacs.
Unlike Bob Marley, Brown never really enjoyed a major international crossover career, though he scored UK hits in the early 80s with ‘Love Has Found A Way’ and ‘Halfway Up Halfway Down’.
Brown was set to play Sunsplash concert at London’s Hackney Victoria Park on August 1. As well as a gaping hole in the bill, he leaves a huge space on the Jamaican music scene.