Legendary deejay Winston Sparkes AKA King Stitt has passed away on the 31st January, after having been ill for sometime with both prostate cancer and diabetes which led to him being admitted to hospital late last month.
King Stitt was often referred to as the Ugly One, due to facial disfiguration from birth, but he did not let this hold him back and in fact turned it into something of an asset. Born in 1940, his musical career began at the age of 17 when he came to the attention of Coxsone Dodd and his Downbeat Sound. Here he honed his style appearing behind the likes of Count Machuki and Red Hopeton to rave reviews. When Machuki retired Stitt‘s popularity had grown to such an extent that he ended up being the star turn with U Roy following behind.
Despite spending such a long time with Coxsone it wasn’t until 1969 that he put his talent on vinyl, recording such classics as ‘Lee Van Cleef’, ‘Herbman Shuffle’, ‘Vigorton 2’ and ‘Dance Beat’ for producer Clancy Eccles, with The Dynamites supplying the backing. His greatest hit though is probably ‘Fire Corner’, for although many people outside of reggae circles may not be familiar with his name many will have heard his prophetic words “No matter what the people say, these sounds leads the way”, the opening gambit to the song that has been sampled by many over the years.
Stitt, although not prolific on the recording front, continued to work and appeared at last years Garance Reggae Festival plus was with producer Chester Synmoie in Brazil in October on a series of engagements when the producer sadly passed away in the airport on the way home. King Stitt will be greatly missed and was a leading light who showed the way too many.