A tribute to the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown, took centre stage on Night 1 of Reggae Sunsplash.
It was a fitting opening for the concert which was first held by promoters Synergy at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay, St James, June 23-30, 1978, and has become a blueprint for reggae festivals worldwide.
“This year we pause to recognise and celebrate the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Emmanuel Brown, CD. A staple on the Reggae Sunsplash stage, Dennis Brown’s music advocated for a new way of love and unity,” said Tyrone Wilson, executive producer of Reggae Sunsplash, in the video tribute.
Wilson highlighted Brown’s long history with the festival, beginning with its very first staging.
“He was unquestionably a favourite for the Reggae Sunsplash fans, having performed in the ’70s – 1978 – the first Reggae Sunsplash music festival [and] performed in the ’80s and the ’90s,” he said.
“Dennis Brown helped to shape Reggae Sunsplash, becoming one of the first performers of the festival in June 1978, joining headliners Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Inner Circle, Toots and the Maytals,” said producer Debbie Bisson in a narration.
The video tribute featured a clip of Brown performing Revolution on the Sunsplash stage.
“I’d like to ask you all a question here this morning,” said Brown in the clip.
“For those of you who think it’s time they got rid of apartheid, let me hear you say ‘yeah’. And for those of you who is now happy that Nelson Mandela is now free and is hoping that one day all our people will be free from the regime of apartheid, let me hear you say ‘yeah’,” said Brown to an enthusiastic audience.