Jamaica's Music Legend Winston Merritone Blake Death and History


Jamaican music legend Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake has died.


Blake died this morning February 27th, 2016 from health complications. He is being remembered as an icon of Jamaican popular music. He was 75 years old.

Merritone History

Blake's moniker comes from the sound system founded by his father Val in Springfield, St Thomas, in 1950 and carried on by his sons Winston, Trevor, Tyrone and Monty to become the oldest sound system in the world which continues to operate. Tyrone died in 2012.

Frankie Campbell, chairman of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), of which Blake was a founding and long-serving executive member, said: "We use the word 'icon' very loosely these days, but indeed, he was an icon in every sense of the word." Campbell, who is also the bass guitarist/manager of Fab Five band, recalled Blake taking the band on its first overseas trip to Cayman in January 1971, two months after it was formed.

This nurturing of younger players in the music industry continued to Blake's death and Campbell pointed out that he was very supportive of especially live performances. "Once he was available, he would have been there," Campbell said. "He was always giving advice."

For ethnomusicologist and university lecturer Dr Dennis Howard, "It is a significant loss to the music, entertainment and the sound system industry. Winston has been instrumental to these industries, from back in the '70s because at one time, the Merritone brand was so popular."

According to Howard: "The Turntable on Red Hills Road is legendary and the sound system itself and the Blake family are legendary, because of their contribution to entertainment and music in general, and it's not only Jamaica popular music that they are known for. They are known for jazz and blues, soul, funk, and many more."

"It's a significant loss and he is a legend. A part of his success is that he was always someone who will be reaching out to you. He was a people person and that's one of the reasons why the brand was so successful," added Howard.

And Campbell noted that Blake was also instrumental in producing songs by his late wife, Cynthia Schloss, and Hopeton Lewis, among others. However, it was in the sound system arena that he spent over half century on the road.

"They (Merritone) took the music to the mass of the people, but especially the middle class ... . We focus on the Bob Marleys of this world and the live performers, but over the past 50 years, Winston has been travelling all over the world," Campbell said, noting that he was especially popular in Europe and North America.

Merritone hosts an annual reunion in Jamaica, the sound system celebrating 65 years as last year's staging was held from October 11 to 19.

- Andrew Harris contributed to this story.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to dead reggae and dancehall artists.

Subscribe to our Eblast and get the latest Dancehall, Reggae News and Releases sent directly to you.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

To have your projects featured on dancehallreggaeworld.com, Please email us at [info@dancehallreggaeworld.com]

Get your music sent to over 20,000 Subscribers now!!! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Articles You Might Have Missed ......

Custom Search
Custom Search

Did You Miss These?

Recent Articles

  1. Top upcoming festivals Dancehall & Reggae Music

    Mar 23, 17 11:13 AM

    The a list of all the upcoming festivals in jamaica, dancehall, clubs, sumfest, nam and jam among many others. All are listed here

    Read More

  2. Lutan Fyah Music Never Dies - 16th Studio Album

    Mar 22, 17 10:00 PM

    The latest release with Jamaican modern roots veteran, Lutan Fyah; "Music Never Dies" is Lutan Fyah's 16th album to date and his first with I Grade Records.

    Read More

  3. Bay-C Trending In Latin Market With Bubble Butt Collaboration

    Mar 22, 17 05:42 PM

    March 22, 2017 Kingston Jamaica After a successful first year for his solo career, popular bass vocalist Bay-C - formerly of super group T.O.K, is doing

    Read More

  4. Jupitar - "I Have Signed Million Dollar Record Deal"

    Mar 22, 17 01:50 PM

    Enemies hitmaker Jupitar born Mikel Mint is arguably one of the best Ghanaian reggae and dancehall musicians due to the enormous efforts he has been putting in his music career.

    Read More

  5. RastaMils Releases Official Video for "Bluffing"

    Mar 22, 17 11:55 AM

    Reggae Singer RastaMils Releases Official Video for "Bluffing" Produced by Bobby Digital

    Read More

  6. Konshens x Chris Brown Bruk Off Yuh Back Remix

    Mar 21, 17 11:12 PM

    The official remix for Konshens' chart topping single 'Bruk Off Yuh Back' is now out. Konshens who is the head of Subkonshus Music has teamed up with

    Read More