The history of Jamaican music has been marked by different icons over the years, however, one of the greatest and most established has undoubtedly been Dennis Brown, who contributed to the development of Jamaican popular music, not for one or two but three whole decades with his songs and performances on stage.
Dennis Emmanuel Brown was born in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, and was influenced by music from a young age thanks to his brother Basil, who was a very popular radio personality at the time and who along with his father were Brown’s inspirational singing figures. Dennis was “discovered” by one of the most important music producers of the island called Coxsone Dodd, after having a television appearance in a program of the time, and it was with his company Studio One with whom the singer recorded No Man Is an Island, a song that gave rise to what became a hit in the country.
The charisma that Dennis exuded with his juicy youth, coupled with his voice and the catchy but smooth rhythms he played, made him someone the fans adored. He was a singer who kept releasing songs that were appreciated by the public, and it was titles like: ‘Westbound train’, ‘Cassandra’, ‘I’m the conqueror’, and ‘Yaga Yaga’ that marked the first great era of his career.
As time went on and the ’70s arrived, Dennis turned his focus in music to a Rasta message of peace and love and decided to tackle terrain beyond the shores of Jamaica, touching the British soil that few had ever conquered. During his first years in Great Britain, he collaborated with different artists and producers of great level like Joe Gibbs or Winston Holiness. They help him to create ‘Cup of Tea’, and ‘Slave driver’ songs that became hits in the British reggae charts quickly.
By the mid-70s Dennis was touring with different groups and new artists, sharing his gift with anyone who would listen and becoming more and more recognized. In fact, Brown closed that decade with his hit ‘Money in my pocket’ at the top of the British music charts and not only in the exclusive reggae charts, even making it to the top of the American music charts.
But Dennis Brown was not only a special character in music, he became the image of a generation as he delivered messages of happiness, romance, peace, and even some nostalgia in his lyrics. Jamaican fans gave him their full support during every part of his career and even gave him the nickname “Crown Prince of Reggae” after the iconic Bob Marley passed away.
Brown’s success is something that has not been erased with time, even if two decades have passed since his departure. The reggae world remembers him every February 1st, the date on which he was born and which also marks the beginning of the month of the music he sang during his lifetime. They also take him as an example on July 1, the date on which he died and which also commemorates the international day of reggae.
For proof of his persistence to this day are songs like “Love has found its way”, “Let me down easy” and “revolution” on platforms like Spotify where each enjoys 8, 10, and 21 million plays respectively. Besides the fact that he is the only Jamaican artist to be buried with honors in the National Heroes Park, a resting place reserved for national heroes, heads of state, and other distinguished figures of the island.
Dennis Brown became a legend by creating an incredible career and hardly comparable to other artists. Step by step, he won the affection of his people and managed to keep reggae alive even in the darkest time in the history of the island. The effort, dedication, fraternity, and above all talent is what characterized him for years and that is why today we speak of him as what he is, a legend because as they say, you have to give honor to whom honor is due. Dennis Emmanuel Brown, an icon of Jamaica and for the world!
Why is dennis brown so reverred by all the people in the business?
We’re asking because he didn’t necessarily get as large as other reggae stars but seemed to maybe deserve to more then anybody else? yeah?
What are some of his best songs.
list them – maybe humm/sing a bar or two.
Talk about what you remember about the songs.
Did you meet him?
Did you work with him?
Did you see him perform in person?
Any in person encounters?
Why does he mean so much to you and others in reggae?