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Top 7 Jamaican Musicians; Gone Too Soon

7. Garnett Silk

Garnett Silk (born Garnet Damion Smith; 2 April 1966 – 9 December 1994), was a Jamaican reggae musician and Rastafarian, known for his diverse, emotive, powerful and smooth voice. During the early 1990s he was hailed as a rising talent, however, his career was ended by his early death in 1994, while attempting to save his mother from her burning house.

Having signed an international distribution deal with Atlantic Records, Silk now entered Tuff Gong studios with producer Errol Brown and the cream of Jamaica’s session men (including Aston Barrett, Sly & Robbie, Tyrone Downie, Earl “Chinna” Smith, and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson), to begin work on his second album. He’d recorded ten songs and the album was nearing completion when he went home to visit his mother. Silk had borrowed a pair of guns from his attorney after his home had been burglarized, but had no idea how to use them. Sitting with a couple of friends at his mother’s house in Mandeville, Jamaica, on 9 December, one offered to show him how they worked, at which point the gun accidentally misfired, hitting a propane tank and setting the house ablaze. The singer, his friends, and his two brothers made it out safely, only to discover that Silk’s mother was still trapped inside. The singer rushed back into the house to save her, but it was too late and both were lost in the fire.

6. Dennis Brown 

Dennis Emmanuel Brown was a Jamaican reggae singer. During his prolific career, which began in the late 1960s when he was aged eleven, he recorded more than 75 albums and was one of the major stars of lovers rock, a subgenre of reggae. Bob Marley cited Brown as his favourite singer, dubbing him “The Crown Prince of Reggae”, and Brown would prove influential on future generations of reggae singers.

In the late 1990s, Brown’s health began to deteriorate. He had developed respiratory issues, probably exacerbated by longstanding problems with drug addiction, namely cocaine, leading to him being taken ill in May 1999 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 his death was a collapsed lung.

Sitting Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and former prime minister, serving at the time as opposition leader, Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party both spoke at Brown’s funeral, which was held on 17 July 1999 in Kingston. The service, which lasted for three hours, also featured live performances by Maxi Priest, Shaggy, and three of Brown’s sons. Brown was then buried at Kingston’s National Heroes Park. Brown was survived by his wife Yvonne and ten children. Prime Minister Patterson paid tribute to Brown, saying: “Over the years, Dennis Brown has distinguished himself as one of the finest and most talented musicians of our time. The Crown Prince of Reggae as he was commonly called. He has left us with a vast repertoire of songs which will continue to satisfy the hearts and minds of us all for generations to come.

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