Toaster dead at 69

Music

Toaster dead at 69

2019 ENTERTAINMENT YEAR IN REVIEW

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues it daily recap of stories, events, and people who grabbed the headlines in 2019.

Jah Stitch, a colourful and pivotal figure in dancehall culture, died in Kingston on April 29 at age 69. He reportedly succumbed to complications from diabetes and a stroke.

Born Melbourne James in Kingston, he was a contemporary and close friend of Big Youth. They were raised in the Princess Street area of Kingston, and got their start as deejays on the Tippertone sound system.

Jah Stitch was also a selector on Tippertone, as well as Black Harmony sound system from Greenwich Farm. He was later a selector with Sugar Minott's Youth Promotions 'soun'.

American author, David Katz, who interviewed Jah Stitch in December 2017, said he was “quite a character”.

“He was a bit like Yellowman in that part of his mouth was removed. He had that image of a street tough, but was always immaculately dressed,” Katz told the Jamaica Observer.

Jah Stitch's face was disfigured when he was shot by a gunman in central Kingston in 1976, and it was four months before his wound was treated. During their interview, Jah Stitch told Katz that on his release from hospital, he had a hunger to record new songs and did just that with producer Bunny Lee.

According to Jah Stitch, he recorded 19 songs for Lee in 45 minutes. Some of those tracks are from the 1976 album, No Dread Can't Dead, which found an audience in the United Kingdom, where Jah Stitch toured in 1977. He performed with John Holt and Johnny Clarke at the Hammersmith Palais.

Jah Stitch was influenced as a youth by selector Prince Rough of Sir George The Atomic sound system in Jones Town; and deejay Dennis Alcapone, who was featured act on the El Paso 'soun' from Waltham Park.

In the 1980s, as his recording career cooled, Jah Stitch became a mentor to upcoming singers Nitty Gritty, Tenor Saw and Yami Bolo at Youth Promotions. Jah Stitch had a small part in the 1996 movie, Dancehall Queen; was featured in the 2012 book, Clarks in Jamaica; and had spots in an advertising campaign showcasing the popular English shoes.


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