George Nooks Pays Tribute to the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown
The “Crown Prince of Reggae” Dennis Brown

by Howard Campbell

[SOUTH FLORIDA] – Before he did gospel songs like God is Standing By, George Nooks was known for roots anthems like Tribal War. He owes his start in the music business to Dennis Emmanuel Brown who would have celebrated his 64th birthday today.

In the late 1970s, Nooks was part of producer Joe Gibbs’ camp in Kingston, where the Crown Prince of Reggae held court. It was there that he cut Tribal War and Fortyleg Dread, the latter as deejay Prince Mohammed.

“Him (Dennis Brown) was one of di first person who carry mi to studio, so I owe him a lot,” said Nooks, who added that his vocal style was inspired by Brown.

“Mi jus’ love how him sing. Him have a voice that…Oh God, Dennis Brown had a voice! Jus’ di way him deliver a song,” Nooks gushed.

Brown, who died in July, 1999 at age 42, was the Boy Wonder of reggae. His remarkable career started in 1967 with the hit song, Lips of Wine; he amassed a formidable catalog that earned him the lofty title, Crown Prince of Reggae.

His hit songs also include: Westbound Train, Cassandra,  Love And Hate, Revolution, Sitting And Watching, Ghetto Girl, The Promised Land and Inseparable.

He and Nooks were from different backgrounds. Brown hailed from Orange Street in west Kingston, a busy urban district that was once the hub of Jamaica’s music business.

Nooks is originally from King Weston, a hilly area in rural St. Andrew parish overlooking the capital. They first met in the mid-1970’s. Brown was one of the hottest acts in reggae and Nooks was looking to break in the business.

Joe Gibbs Studio

Eventually, he joined his mentor at Gibbs’ studio which was also home to roots group Culture and high-riding deejays such as Trinity. In addition to Tribal War and Fortyleg Dread, Nooks cut Bubbling Love (as Prince Mohammed), the deejay leg to Brown’s classic song, How Can I Leave.

Nooks moved to New York City during the 1980’s. But, returned to Jamaica a decade later and resumed his recording career. In 2000, one year after his hero died, he roared up the charts with God is Standing By.  This was the first of several inspirational hits.

He performed Bubbling Love at Brown’s funeral. And in 2010, Nooks recorded George Nooks Sings Dennis Brown, an 18-song album released by Tad’s International Record.


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