Born Dennis Emmanuel Brown on February 6, 1957, in Kingston, Jamaica; son of Arthur Brown; married to Yvonne; 13 children; died on July 1, 1999, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Early in his career as a child star during the late 1960s, reggae singing legend Dennis Emmanuel Brown, received the nickname of "boy wonder of Jamaican music." In 1981, reggae fans unanimously ordained Brown with a new title, "Emmanuel, the Crown Prince of Reggae" and the undisputed heir apparent, following the death of reggae "king" Bob Marley. Brown, with his extremely powerful tenor and distinctive singing voice, established himself easily as one of the most impressive reggae artists of the twentieth century. A happy and friendly man, Brown amassed a loving and loyal following throughout his career, and upon his death at the early age of 42, he was widely eulogized for his outgoing personality. He recorded more than 100 records, including over 50 albums, from the time he was in his teens. The world of reggae music lost a "towering talent," noted Billboard magazine, when Brown passed away on July 1, 1999.

Dennis Brown was born Dennis Emmanuel Brown on February 1, 1957 in Kingston, Jamaica; he grew up in Chocomo Lawn in West Kingston. Show business in a sense was his birth right, as he was the son of Arthur Brown, a prominent Jamaican actor. Dennis Brown was well-known as a child star, and some hailed the young boy as a prodigy during the 1960s. By the age of nine years old he sang regularly with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, standing on beer crates in order for the admiring audiences to get a glimpse of his small frame.

During the course of his lifetime, Brown worked with virtually every one of the noted producers of contemporary reggae and ska. Initially, during his childhood career, he maintained an association with Derrick Harriot and Byron Lee before earning a reputation as a recording artist while a teenager in the 1970s. He signed his first recording contract in the late 1960s with the legendary Clement S. "Sir Coxsone" Dodd of the Studio One label.

Brown's first hit with Dodd, "No Man Is an Island," sold well also as an album, and during his extensive career with the innovative Dodd, Brown earned a reputation as a versatile talent, capable of performing a variety of different styles. Brown, known as one of the most melodious voices in reggae, proved himself to be not only a crooner and a wailer, but a raucous dance music afficionado as well. "Brown is blessed with a lithe, crooning tenor that gives him more-than-passing resemblance to Marvin Gaye," wrote J.D. Considine in Rolling Stone, "something that set many hearts aflutter in the reggae community." Throughout the 1970s, his recordings were produced on the Impact! and Aquarius labels, including numerous collections of his single hits which accounted for much of his popularity during that era. He went on to record on many of the prominent reggae labels of his time.

As Brown approached adulthood during the 1970s, he recorded with the Observer label with producer Winston "Niney" Holness, a collaboration that resulted in such albums as Just Dennisin 1975, and Wolves and Leopards in 1978. Through his association with Holness, Brown achieved a level of international stardom and set the stage for superstardom in the field. From 1977-82, Brown worked extensively with the prominent reggae producer Joe Gibbs. The two collaborated on a variety of songs, including "Visions," "Words of Wisdom," and "Joseph's Coat of Many Colours." Brown was heard repeatedly with Gibbs's partner Errol "ET" Thompson as well, their most popular hit together by far being the 1979 release, "Money in My Pocket."

Additionally, Brown went on contract with the mainstream label, A&M Records, in 1980 and near the end of that decade the crooner worked for King Jammys, and for "Gussie" Clark's Music Works. "Big All Around," Brown's 1989 duet with Gregory Isaacs, was recorded by Clark's Music Works and surfaced as a global hit. At the time of his death, Brown had recorded most recently for Don One Sound, and his final release, Believe in Yourself, appeared on that label.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Brown's presence at the Montego Bay Sunsplash Festivals was a regular occurrence. His 1983 appearance at Sunsplash was long after regarded as one of his finest moments. After signing with A&M Records, he released two albums for the label in 1983 and also embarked on a venture into producing independently around that same time, under his DEB Music and Yvonne's Special labels. He moved to London, England for a time where he was associated with producers Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar during the early 1980s and recorded with that duo on their Taxi label. The bass and drum duo of Sly & Robbie was heard later on Brown's 1990s hit, "Cosmic Force."

In 1995, Brown's rendition of "Light My Fire" received a Grammy nomination from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Additionally, in 1978, Brown appeared in the movie Heartland Reggae.

Brown assumed the billing of "Emmanuel, the crown prince of reggae" in deference to "king" Bob Marley, who prior to his own death had acknowledged Brown as a personal favorite. Brown's untimely death occurred after he and several members of his tour group became ill during a visit to Brazil with Gregory Isaacs, Max Romeo, Lloyd Parker, and We the People in May of 1999. Romeo, Isaccs, and Parkes were said to have fully recovered. However, Brown was not so fortunate as his colleagues. Upon his return to Jamaica, he was rushed to the hospital on the evening of June 30, 1999, in serious distress and suffered cardiac arrest. He died on July 1, 1999 in Kingston, Jamaica, of a collapsed lung at the University Hospital.

Brown, who was survived by his wife, Yvonne, was father to at least one dozen children. Elena Oumano of Billboard remembered him upon his death as "a towering talent and beloved son." The country of Jamaica afforded Brown one of its highest honors, with burial in the National Heroes Park in Kingston. Posthumously, on March 7, 2000, Hip-O Records released Dennis Brown: The Ultimate Collectionas an addition to its compilation series.

by Gloria Cooksey

Dennis Brown's Career

Signed with Studio One, 1970; with producer Joe Gibbs, 1977-82; albums released on RAS Records, Shanachie, A&M Records.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 5 years ago

Without a doubt the most common weakness i have is his music .I've bin trying to find Daniel brown for years .we go way back and I know Dennis wife Yvonne and she lives in England. Anyone can help me find Daniel just give him the e-mail .

over 5 years ago

Please make correction to Dennis' date of birth, its not Feb. 6 but instead Feb. 1, 1957. Feb. 6, is Bob Marley's Birthday.

over 6 years ago

NO OTHER CARIBBEAN ISLAND OR ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD KNOWS ABOUT OUR JAMAICAN CELEBRITIES LIKE WE DO......DENNIS EMMANUEL BROWN AND ROBERT NESTA MARLEY ARE OF SUCH BUT THERE ARE LOTS MORE..AS JAMAICANS WE HAVE TO LEARN TO RESPECT OUR CULTURE AND OUR HERITAGE.....NOT EVERYBODY WILL LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT IT BUT AT LEAST SHOW SOME RESPECT AND LOVE FOR IT........PEACE EVERYTIME:)

over 7 years ago

Nobody knows Jamaican History like Jamaicans do yet everybody is an expert on the subject. Dennis Brown was born on february 1. Just yeterday we celebrated dennis Browns birthday.bob Marley was born on Feb. 6. Proud J'can February 2,2010

over 8 years ago

Dennis Brown was my musical HERO...A personal inspiration to me in my early life..LOVE HAS FOUND IT'S WAY will always be my favourite and classic song...just the words alone..RESPECT ALWAYS as DENNIS BROWN songs will continue indefinetly to be memorable.

over 8 years ago

Mr Dennis Brown is one of my legend in Reggae Music.I look up to him. I'm a DJ for the pass ten years because of this man; he's my hero live on man we all love u DJ Marlon from Guyana

over 8 years ago

Dennis Brown is one of the many Reggae Artist that layed down the foundation for my musical vocal style as a singer. His music is a great inspiration to may including myself. His music is food for soul of the hunger of the poor man; this is not just a physical hunger - this is proverty in it's entirety. Jah Bless

over 8 years ago

Dennis Brown and I shared the same earthday. D. Brown was and is a legend

over 8 years ago

Denni...I fell in-love with your voice the first time I heard it in the 70's and I love all your songs. Although you are gone your music will live on forever. Blessings!

about 9 years ago

Dennis has for as long as I have loved reggae music, the all time greatest... and that is a long time, since the 70s. As a teenager, i could relate to his songs and identified completely with his message and lyrics..Dennis, your melodies and genius will never physically die. You live on forever. Jah Live Crown Prince.

about 9 years ago

I love Dennis Brown's Music. He's my hero