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Dennis Brown Biography

Home > Music > B > Brown, Dennis > Biography

Birth Name: Dennis Emmanuel Brown
Born: 1957/02/01
Birth Place: Kingston, Jamaica
Died: 1999/07/01
Years Active: 1968 – 1999
Genres: Reggae, Lovers Rock

Dennis Brown was born February 1, 1957 in Kingston, Jamaica and was a reggae singer. Brown had a long and prolific career that spanned over 30 years and began when he was just 11 years old. Brown recorded over 75 albums and was heavily influenced throughout his life by fellow reggae artist, Bob Marley. Brown's first professional appearance came age 11, when he visited a local club and made a guest appearance with the club's resident group, the Fabulous Falcons (a group which included Cynthia Richards, David “Scotty” Scott, and Noel Brown). On the strength of this performance he was asked to join the group as a featured vocalist.

Brown's first recording was an original song called “Lips of Wine,” which was not released. His next recording was 1969’s “No Man is an Island” for the Studio One label. Recorded when Brown was just 12 years old, the single received steady airplay for almost a year before becoming a huge hit all over Jamaica. Brown went on to record 30 songs for Studio One, and worked as a session musician for other artists on the label.

Around this time Brown began to learn to play the guitar and decided to leave Studio One. Recording for a number of producers over the next few years and producing hits, such as, “Baby Don't Do It,” “Things in Life,” “One Day Soon,” “If I Had the World,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Let Love In“ and “What About the Half,” Brown continued to think about his own music.

1972 marked the beginning of a successful relationship with Jamaican reggae producer Joe Gibbs, resulting in international success for Brown. Gibbs asked Brown to collaborate with him on the track, “Money In My Pocket” which became a hit with reggae audiences in the U.K. and back home in Jamaica. Brown followed-up with more success releasing the singles, “Westbound Train,” “Cassandra,” “No More Will I Roam,” “Africa” and “Love Jah,” the latter two displaying Brown's Rastafari beliefs.

In 1974 Brown returned to the U.K., after a break from music due to exhaustion. Brown performed a Jamaican showcase, with Cynthia Richards, Al Brown, Sharon Forrester, and The Maytals. While in the U.K. Brown went into the studios and began to record with Trojan Records, releasing the album “Just Dennis” as 1975 his label debut.

After the collapse of Trojan Records Brown returned to Jamaica, and began to negotiate a deal with Morpheus Records. In the meantime he released, “Take a Trip to Zion“ and “Wolf and Leopard,” with the latter becoming a hit in Jamaica. Brown began working again with Joe Gibbs, with an agreement that in return for studio time for his own productions, Brown would allow Gibbs use of any rhythm recorded in the process. The first album from this arrangement, the 1977 release “Visions of Dennis Brown,” gave him his biggest success, blending conscious themes and love songs, and confirming Brown's transformation from child star to grown up artist.

By 1981, Brown had signed an international record deal with A&M Records, and moved to London on a permanent basis. Brown's 1981 debut album for the label, “Foul Play,” was produced by Gibbs and was followed-up quickly by, “Love Has Found its Way,” in 1982. The latter album displayed more of a romantic rock/pop sound.

In 1983 Brown issued his final album with the label, “The Prophet Rides Again.” Brown spent the remainder of the 1980's collaborating with other artists, moving more towards the current dancehall sound of Kingston, and starting his own record label. Brown’s biggest commercial success of the decade was his 1989 duet with Gregory Isaacs, “Big All Round,” off the album “Unchallenged.”

Brown continued to tour and record throughout the 1990s with his profile being raised in the U.S as he gained new fans. However, Brown's health began to deteriorate by the late 1990s, and was diagnosed with pneumonia in 1999 at the end of a tour in Brazil. Brown died in June 1999 at Kingston's University Hospital after going into cardiac arrest from a collapsed lung.