Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Footprints: Winston Blake - Merritone architect gone to rest

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Winston 'Merritone' Blake

Winston 'Merritone' Blake, who died on February 27 at the University Hospital of the West Indies, has been remembered by Olivia 'Babsy' Grange as a critical player in the development of Jamaican music since Independence.

Grange credited Blake and his brothers - Monty, Trevor and Tyrone (who died in 2012) - with bringing a fresh, global flavour to Jamaican music in the '70s and '80s, through their exquisite blend of R&B and dancehall and their experiments with the fusion of genres.

Grange said Winston was the chief architect of the Merritone legacy, which includes being the first Jamaican sound system to venture overseas, entertaining Jamaicans in the diaspora and becoming an unofficial ambassador for local music, in the process.

The Blake family operated Turntable Night Club, formerly on Red Hills Road, Kingston, which became a meeting place for heads of government, politicians, local and foreign dignitaries, lawyers, doctors, nurses, vendors, household helpers, gardeners, actors and artists.

The VIP Talent Series, which yielded some of Jamaica's brightest talents, including Winston's late wife, Cynthia Schloss, Beres Hammond, The Tamlins and the Mighty Diamonds, among others; The Jamaican Prison Music Therapy Programme, co-joined with The Inner Circle Band, to provide an outlet and therapy through music to the incarcerated; as well as the Merritone Family Reunion & Homecoming Event.

"Jamaica cannot ignore or forget the contributions of the Blake brothers to the growth of our music and the development of our entertainment industry, for the past 65 years. They are among the most incredible icons of our creative sector, and the death of the second of this versatile and productive quartet is a sad blow to the industry," Grange said.