Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Dennis Brown: Songwriter, singer, showman

Published:Wednesday | February 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dennis Brown in performance.
Dennis Brown (left) and Freddie McGregor.
Dennis Brown
Dennis Brown in 1975.
Dennis Brown

The line "love and hate will never be friends" is guaranteed to rev up a party in Jamaica and, chances are, the many places around the world where reggae has found a listening ear and willing feet. After that observation, the song continues with an explicit introduction "here I come, with love and not hatred". The beat begins and the party is on.

Listening to the recording is one experience, but there are those who would have seen Dennis Emmanuel Brown stroll out on the Reggae Sunsplash stage in the morning sun as the closing performer, to bring a surge of energy to a crowd that had been through a Jamaican popular music marathon. They would have heard much more of Brown's catalogue than Here I Come (often called Love and Hate after its opening line), Revolution and To The Foundation, the three songs by Reggae's Crown Prince which get regular party rotation.


Extensive catalogue


Included in Brown's extensive catalogue are Wolf and Leopards, Cassandra, Your Love Gotta Hold on Me, Ragamuffin (with Gregory Isaacs), Wildfire (with John Holt), No Man is an Island, Love Has Found Its Way, Hooligan, No More Will I Roam, If I Follow My Heart, Milk and Honey (recently covered by Raging Fyah), Stop Your Fussing and Fighting, Should I, Westbound Train, How Could I Live, Ol' Man River, Silhouette and Death Before Dishonour.

Among his 1990s collaborations was a remake of Poison with Brian and Tony Gold, and there was a remake of Revolution with Bounty Killer and Beenie Man.

Brown was prolific in the studio, from his first album with Studio One, No Man is an Island (1970) through to a trio in 1999 the year he died at 42 years old. He was born on February 1, 1957, at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.

Shortly after returning to Jamaica from a tour of Brazil, Brown died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on July 1, 1999.