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Wayne ‘Sleng Teng’ Smith is dead

— Howard Campbell

Tuesday, February 18, 2014    

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Singer Wayne Smith, whose computerised song Under Mi Sleng Teng revolutionised reggae, has died. Smith’s son, Tidel Smith, told the Jamaica Observer that his father died yesterday at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).

 He was 48 years old. He said Smith was admitted to KPH Friday after complaining of stomach pains. His health improved on Sunday but yesterday it deteriorated and he died shortly after noon.

 An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death. Originally from Waterhouse, Smith started his career in 1980 with producer Lloyd ‘King Jammys’ James who produced Under Mi Sleng Teng four years later.

 Under Mi Sleng Teng was orchestrated by Smith and musician Noel Daley on an inexpensive Casio keyboard. It was first played at dances on James’ sound system and got such strong response that James released the song in late 1984.

 The ‘riddim’ of the same name produced numerous hit songs, including Pumpkin Belly by singer Tenor Saw.

 Under Mi Sleng Teng was a trailblazer, triggering dancehall’s digital age.

 It was Smith’s biggest hit, though he enjoyed more chart success with songs like Ain’t No Meaning In Saying Goodbye and Come Along.

 Smith, who operated the Sleng Teng label, is survived by his mother, May Coley, five children, three grandchildren, and five brothers and sisters.

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