Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Winston Riley remembered for standout production

Published:Sunday | January 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Winston Riley in his youthful days.- File photos

Mel Cooke, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Double Barrel (1971) and Monkey Spanner by Dave and Ansel Collins. Ring the Alarm by Tenor Saw and Supercat's Boops (mid-1980s). General Echo's renown - and maybe reviled - album Slackest (1979).

Winston Riley's productions on his Techniques label are an indelible part of Jamaican popular music and span decades. But before he took up position behind the mixing board, Riley was a part of the Techniques singing group, at one stage with Pat Kelly and Jimmy Riley. Queen Majesty and You Don't Care hit for the Techniques in 1967.

Winston Riley, the father of disc jockey and producer Kurt Riley, died last Friday after being hospitalised since being shot in November last year.

In 2009, Riley was honoured at Tribute to the Greats, organised by Kingsley 'King Omar' Goodison. Then, he told The Gleaner, "When you work hard and there's no respect, yuh feel it because you are human. You want to be recognised while you are still alive".

Goodison said when Riley was honoured, "he was elated. He said it was the first time something like this happened to him and it took someone like me to do it. He said it was the first he had got an award". He described Riley as "one of the unsung heroes. He was a prolific hitmaker".

Riley's business side did not escape Goodison's attention. "He was a very, very hard worker in the business. He used to do his own marketing, take the records to England, New York," Goodison said.

Jimmy Riley sang with Winston in one version of the Techniques, but also noted his production talents. "He is a great producer, lots of ideas," Riley said. "He did not play any instrument, but him tell you what him want. He was one of the most prolific producers in the business."

As a singer, he said working with Winston was fun. "Winston used to sing bass in the group. Although he was the bass, he would correct me and Pat and say 'sing it like this'," Riley recalled. "Mi sorry to hear. It grieve me heart. People used to think we was brother, because we have the same last name and sing in the group," he said.

With Riley in hospital after being shot in the third of three attacks in quick succession, Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM) president Desmond Young said, "I was not shocked, but it is still some news we did not want to hear."

"We knew he was in a bad state and anything could happen," Young said, extending condolences to Kurt Riley and other members of Winston's family.

Young said in "his contribution as a member of the Techniques and running Techniques Records, he was responsible for a number of hits. He will be remembered for some serious hits he was involved in".