Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
Having written Malcom X while still a student at Excelsior High School over 30 years ago, reggae artiste Winston 'Electric Dread' McAnuff is now fighting to keep total rights to the song.
McAnuff, now based in France, is taking Greensleeves Records to court, alleging that Greensleeves has registered the song as co-written by the late Dennis Brown, who did a version of the song on the Visions of Dennis Brown album for Joe Gibbs Records in the '70s.
In a recent interview, an obviously bitter McAnuff explained the situation.
Written in 1975
"I write a song in 1975 called Malcolm X when I was in high school. Franklyn Waul, who play with Sly and Robbie, helped me to work out the song.
"I recorded the song with Hugh Mundell and Earl Sixteen sang the song. Now Dennis Brown had an album, Visions of Dennis Brown, that he wanted to release in America at the time but he didn't have a strong tune for America. He heard the song and did a version.
"I've been collecting (royalties) for the song for 30 years. Suddenly there is a registration that they made since Dennis Brown died, that Dennis Brown is half owner of the song."
McAnuff has accused Greensleeves of this and has taken the record company to court.
"Greensleeves has been dealing with a lot of reggae music so if they have some queries there are many people in reggae music they could have questioned," McAnuff said.
"We're taking them to court in New York because they insist that Dennis Brown is half owner and there is nowhere in the world where Dennis Brown's name is written on the song. When the album was released, my name was on the song as the writer. I was at Excelsior at the time. Why would Joe Gibbs put my name on a Dennis Brown song, as a little youth in Excelsior High School? And there was no problem up until now."
McAnuff named several Jamaican musicians who he said have knowledge of him being the writer of Malcom X as recorded by the late Dennis Brown, among them Earl 'Chinna' Smith, Sly Dunbar, Franklyn 'Bubbler' Waul, and Robbie Shakespeare.
"Is George Fullwood play the tune. Keith Sterling, Tony Chin, Santa Davis, all these people know it's my song," McAnuff stated.
Meanwhile, McAnuff, who hardly uses the Electric Dread moniker anymore, is enjoying the success of his recently released album A New Day, a collaboration with French musician, Fixi.
An EP that preceded the album earlier this year featuring four songs from the A New Day disc, scored well in France and Germany.
"One of the songs, Garden of Love, went straight to number one in Germany and France on iTunes," said McAnuff.