Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Winston Riley's music lives on - Sons Kurt and Andre pick up the mantle

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Winston Riley
Winston Riley in his youthful days.

In order to understand where someone is going, they must first understand where they are coming from and learn from those who were instrumental in paving the way.

Kurt Riley is one of those people, who, under the tutelage of his father, found his way into music.

His father was the legendary Winston Riley, who, with a catalogue of that span from the 1960's to '90s as record producer and singer, continues to be recognised for his influential work, which aided with the popularisation of Jamaican music around the world.

Born in Kingston, Winston Riley, through his label Techniques Records, produced some of the biggest hits in the Jamaican dancehall and reggae fraternity. Tenor Saw's Ring the Alarm, Super Cat's Boops, Buju Banton's Stamina Daddy (produced and co-written by son Kurt Riley), and Mama Rule, Sister Nancy's One Two and Bam Bam, Dave and Ansel Collins' Double Barrel, Courtney Melody's Bad Boy, and Sanchez's Loneliness, to name a few, were some of the many musical masterpieces created by Riley. His Stalag rhythm is said to be the most sampled reggae instrumentals of all time.

Winston Riley was admired by many, but none can compare to the admiration of his sons, who spent countless hours in his studio watching him work. His eldest child, Kurt Riley, was responsible for one of the biggest remixes in dancehall history, Ring the Alarm Quick, by Buju Banton and Tenor Saw. Something that began as a joke between Kurt and his brother, Andre, to mix the two songs for a friend who used it to win a sound-clash competition, resulted in Kurt creating the record. The following week, after their 'joke mix', Kurt, who should have been under his mother's arms, went to Mixing Lab Studios with Bulby York as the engineer, where Kurt was recorded while mixing both songs live.

Recent mention of the Stalag rhythm was made by Billboard Magazine ( after Sister Nancy's Bam Bam was sampled to create Kanye West's track Famous, which is featured on his album, Life Of Pablo.

The Stalag rhythm was, in the past, also used by other international acts like Run-DMC and Alicia Keys.

Even though he is no longer here in the physical form, Riley's music continues to live on in the hearts of Jamaicans and music lovers throughout the world. He was undoubtedly one of Jamaica's musical heroes.