Stuart Nelson – gone too soon
A copy of Stuart Nelson’s I Miss You.

The Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment Desk continues with the 14th in its Child Month series highlighting some of Jamaica’s young performers who shot to stardom.

After his rise to prominence, 12-year-old Stuart Nelson met an untimely demise by drowning in a pool in the United States in 1982. His debut single that year, I Miss You, was bound for greatness, according to producer Tommy Cowan.

“I met Stuart through a friend called Owen Mills. He was associated with JCDC (Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) and was doing community work for them and I knew him for a while. He mentioned that they had a youngster and he had a talent. Owen recognised how much I liked dealing with the youngsters, since I had Junior Tucker working with from around seven years old. Owen had this song and I said, ‘Since you have that relationship with him, and he’s more relaxed around you, you can set up the recording’. He arranged it, [and] Stuart came to the studio and did it,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

The song was written by Mills.

“It was very successful! It was well known, in fact, Alaine did it over,” said Cowan.

Nelson hailed from St Elizabeth. Cowan said he received little details about the promising artiste’s death but he was impressed with his talent.

“We never got the full info about how he died. He and I never had a lot of dialogue since I knew him through Owen. We thought he was so brilliant. We sent the record to Europe to say ‘listen to this youngster— he’s so brilliant’. They sent a response to say, ‘you don’t hear he’s off key?’ And we said, ‘yes, he might be, but he’s sincere and sounds great. We can work on him’. The same group of producers put out a song called Girl I’m Gonna Miss You and we kinda thought something was common here that they ended up doing that song after they heard ours. We came to learn that the song was very different, but the titles were so close,” Cowan disclosed.

The producer remembers Nelson’s high energy.

“His voice was genuine. We had to stop him and say, ‘Sing here’ ‘cause he was moving so fast all the time. He liked to play. He wanted to play all the time. We weren’t looking for anything extra in those days, just talent — and he had that,” said Cowan.

Kediesha Perry

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