Ernest Wilson — harmonious talentSaturday, November 06, 2021
The following is a tribute to singer Ernest Wilson by Michael Barnett of Kool 97 FM and founder of the Heineken Startime series. Wilson died on November 2 at age 69 at the Kingston Public Hospital.
WHEN I think of Fitzroy “Ernest” Wilson, one word readily comes to mind – talent. Although he was never really recognised and regarded by the music industry on a whole, Ernest, to me, is one of the great Jamaican music talents; he was a great singer, songwriter and musician who knew how to harmonise with any singer.
Being able to harmonise is one of the characteristics of a great singer. During his Studio One years, whenever producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd needed harmony in a song, any song, he always reached for The Heptones or Ernest Wilson. Ernest wrote almost all his original songs and played instruments on many of them.
I fell in love with Ernest Wilson's music from the early 70s when he had gone solo. Studio One songs like Undying Love, If I Were A Carpenter, Storybook Children, Money Worries, Pick Them Up, Why Oh Why; plus his classic cover of Soul & Inspiration, and the original Just Once in My Life, both with Freddie McGregor.
Then there was Run For Your Life in the 60s, on which he provided harmony for Delroy Wilson. Ernest returned in the 70s to harmonise on the same song covered by Jackie Parris of The Sensations – a number one hit in Jamaica.
Who can forget Ernest's outstanding rendition of the Harold Butler-penned Let True Love Be (Your Right On Man) on which he (not Harold Butler) played the haunting organ intro.
There's so much more to tell about the talent of Ernest Wilson, but space won't permit.
I returned to Jamaica in 1982 after living overseas for 15 years, and one of the first artistes I searched for to introduce myself was Ernest Wilson.
We became friends, and after being employed as entertainment manager at Oceana Hotel in 1986, I had the pleasure of presenting him on two solo performances there. He 'bussed the place' both times, before I sought Peter Austin and helped reunite them as the original Clarendonians for my flagship event, Heineken Startime.
We remained good friends after 31 years of Startime including many appearances by Ernest and Peter as The Clarendonians.
Ernest called me up to three weeks before his sudden passing. He sounded in very good spirits.
He will be truly missed; sincere condolence to his children, his family, his musical partner Peter Austin and the Jamaican music fraternity.
Rest in peace, Ernest “Soul” Wilson.