Toaster KING STITT is dead

BY BASIL WALTERS Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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KING Stitt, pioneer ska/rocksteady deejay and toaster, is dead.


According to his only child Beverley Spark, King Stitt — whose real name is Winston Spark — died at 1:15 pm at his home in Nannyville, St Andrew, yesterday. No cause was given for his death.


Upon returning from a tour of Brazil last October, King Stitt became ill and spent approximately two months in Kingston Public Hospital before being discharged.


"He was jovial and nice, but can be feisty when he wants to," was how Beverley remembers her father.


Music historian and broadcaster Bunny Goodison spoke of the veteran deejay's love for music.


"Firstly, he had a very deep and abiding love for music, not just Jamaican music because he knew his jazz and he grew up in the American rhythm and blues era. He had no trade and knew no other life. He started with Coxsone [Dodd] and his mother," Goodison said.


Goodison also recalled King Stitt's extensive memory about music and likened him to a walking computer.


"Many times I would go down to Studio One and hear Coxsone trying to remember something like, 'Who did sing that song?', and Stitt just laugh and tell him."


Courtney Dodd, who is now in charge of his late father's operations at Studio One, also had high regards for King Stitt's knowledge and memory of the music.


"He was just very knowledgeable about the music. If you can't remember anything, just ask Stitt. He was like a walking enclycopedia," Dodd said.


Old-school deejay Lone Ranger (Anthony Waldron) lifted his hat to the artiste.


"He was just great. He was before my time, but he was more than a deejay. He was a selector as well," he said.


Born on September 17, 1940, King Stitt was given the nickname 'Stitt' as a boy and used it as his moniker. During the 1960s, he was dubbed 'King of the Deejays' the 'King' was added. King Stitt took advantage of his facial malformation and called himself The Ugly One, in reference to the Sergio Leone western movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


Influenced by Count Machuki, the original Jamaican deejay, King Stitt began deejaying on Sir Coxsone's Downbeat Sound System in the late 1950s.


His first record releases came from producer Clancy Eccles with classic deejay tracks like Fire Corner, Lee Van Cleef, Herbman Shuffle, Vigorton 2, and Dance Beat.


His best known work for Sir Coxsone is the ska album featuring trombonist Don Drummond titled Paradise Plum. Another outstanding album is Dancehall '63 released in the late 90s of King Stitt deejaying over old-school rhythms.


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