Entertainment minister leads tributes to Dalton Browne - Freddie McGregor hails late musician as ‘brother’
The entertainment fraternity is in mourning following the death on Sunday of musician, Dalton Browne at the University Hospital of the West Indies. The 64-year-old musician had undergone a quadruple bypass surgery on Thursday, and family, colleagues and friends had been praying for his full recovery.
In a press release, the bereaved family stated, “It is with great sadness that the Browne family confirms the death of our beloved Dalton. The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of prayers, love and support. We also want to deeply thank the doctors and hospital staff for their exceptional care. The Browne family kindly asks that the public respects our privacy during this time.”
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange has led tributes to the “man of great dedication and principle,” who touched many lives with his genius. “I am deeply saddened by this news,” Minister Grange said.
She added, “Having gone through the surgery, we were all hoping and praying that he would have made a full recovery. His passing is a major loss to the music industry. Dalton was one of the most demanded and respected musicians around. His work spread across numerous labels and artistes. This is another major blow for the music industry. He was well loved by his colleagues, and I know that they are hurting, we are all hurting. His family is very close-knit, so I know that this must be a very difficult time for them. They are in my thoughts and prayers.”
Freddie McGregor, who called Browne his “brother”, was overcome with emotion in a brief interview with The Gleaner on Sunday afternoon. The two have had a long association, with Browne being the guitarist, background vocalist and musical director for the Big Ship ‘captain’ for many years. When McGregor decided to enter the Jamaica Festival Song Competition earlier this year, it was Browne who co-wrote and co-produced his entry, Tun Up Di Sound.
“I cannot believe this; it doesn’t feel real. I am in shock, and I’m heartbroken,” a deeply emotional McGregor told The Gleaner. “This is too much. The industry is losing too many people who still have so much to contribute. Dalton was 64, like me. Me born June and him born August. This one really hit me hard, hard,” McGregor said.
He later wrote more of his thoughts on social media, where he also shared a picture with himself and a smiling Browne. “How could this be? My dearest friend who’s like my blood brother, my genius musician for years Dalton Browne (@busybeezy) has passed away today. RIP my brother, you will be dearly missed.”
In response to McGregor’s post, producers, including Bulby York, Stingray Records, Casper Music, Larger Than Life Records, as well as artistes Chino McGregor and Bramma also expressed their grief. In a separate post, Freddie’s son, Chino, paid tribute to Browne, who he called “a father, uncle, bredrin and musical teacher”.
Chino, representing for the younger generation, posted a series of videos of him and Dalton jamming in the Big Ship studio, at rehearsals and performing on stage. He also shared a clip of the Big Ship crew, including ‘captain’ Freddie, surprising Dalton on stage with a birthday cake, decorated with candles, in the middle of a jam-packed live performance. Chino wrote, “This one cuts really deep. I’ve known this man literally all my life. This man is the epitome of humility. Always there when I need him in studio, on stage, on tour, etc. Too many memories and stories to share. Sleep well my G. Long live the spirit of the great super genius. Condolences, love and strength to the entire Browne family.”
Dalton Browne’s journey in music started in the 1970s when he and his brothers Glen on bass; Noel and Cleveland on keyboards, and guitarist Danny, formed a group called the Browne Bunch. That group was Jamaica’s answer to the then hugely popular, black, all-male, sibling band The Jackson Five. The Browne Bunch recorded several songs before branching out as independent session musicians and producers.