21 Reasons Why The Late Great Winston Riley’s Music Can’t Stop Play

(Photo By Luca D’Agostino – Rototom Sunsplash)

Late last night came the grim news that Winston Riley—one of the last true living legends in the reggae industry—has died. Riley made musical history both as a singer and a producer over a half-century span. Starting as a founding member of the vocal group The Techniques, he went on to establish the prolific and pioneering Techniques label, which released the instrumental hit “Double Barrel” that went on to top the UK charts. He created the immortal Stalag riddim, a strong contender for the greatest reggae instrumental of all time. He produced breakthrough hits by artists as diverse as General Echo, Tenor Saw, Super Cat, Sanchez, Red Dragon, Buju Banton, and Spragga Benz, just to name a few. He had been attacked at home last November, suffering gunshot wounds in the head and arm from which he never fully recovered. “Turning into a producer is a very good ting,” he told the Jamaica Gleaner in 2008. “Yuh achieve a great goal, but is not an easy road.”
In recent years he’d been working on refurbishing the Techniques headquarters on Kingston’s Orange Street into a museum commemorating the music to which he devoted his life. His efforts were rewarded with senseless violence. Upon hearing the news, the only thing that came to mind was one of the less famous cuts from Mr. Riley’s classic Stalag 17 album:

Brigadier Jerry “What Kind Of World” (1985)

“What type of world are we living in?” Briggy asks, his voice filled with righteous indignation. “Jah know it is a sin…”
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