King Stitt has died.

Legendary deejay and sales manager for Studio One, King Stitt, died on Tuesday January 31, 2012 at 1:30pm at his home in Nannyville, Kingston. The inimitable King Stitt, who was recently released from the Kingston Public hospital, died after ailing for some time. The cause of his ailing was uncertain.

King Stitt (real name Winston George Sparkes) was born on September 17, 1940, in Jubilee Hospital on North Street, Kingston JA. He grew up listening to American artists such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan, Doris Day, Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra. On his way to school he heard sound systems like Coxson's Downbeat and Lakashma, which were just starting, playing music of the R&B artists of the day. When he was about fifteen years old, he started attending dances like those of Blue Mirror, Lord Koos Comic, Tom The Great Sebastian, Duke Reid The Trojan and others. In 1957, at the age of seventeen, he started playing records for Coxson Downbeat. He worked with DJ's like Count Machuki and Red Hopeton, before he became the main DJ for Coxsone's number one set (in the mid-sixties Coxsone had six different sets, which would play in all parishes in Jamaica).

It is often said that Winston George Sparkes got the name King Stitt from listening to the records of jazz musician Sonny Stitt, but that isn't true. One day was a fight and he called a fellow that was around and said to him "Come and see how Marie stick the other person!" So they thought I said "...sitt onto..." So the name stuck on him since then as "Stitt". With the sound system he made it into Count Stitt until he got crowned as King Stitt in one of the dance halls. When playing on the sound system King Stitt introduced the records and in the middle of the record he stopped it and said something (jive talking), which gave people even more excitement.

After Coxson's Sound had stopped playing around 1968 due to the violence going on, King Stitt started to play for Jack Ruby's sound system in Ocho Rios. In 1969 he started recording his first songs for Clancy Eccles including "Fire Corner", "Vigorton Two". "Herbsman Shuffle" and "Lee van Cleef". In 1971 his working with Clancy Eccles came to an end, when the producer found out that he had recorded two songs for Coxsone Dodd. In that same year he bought a little sound system for himself, based in Kingston, named King Stitt Disco. He also played with bands like Carlos Malcolm & His Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, The Mighty Vikings, and Tommy McCook & The Supersonics around late 1969.

King Stitt played his own sound until 1976, but after someone had stolen the speakers and later on also his record box with over a hundred dub plates he was forced to go out of business. Then, between 1976 and 1979, he did some construction work and some small jobs here and there, but also stayed around Coxsone Dodd. For him he selected tapes, distributed records, and compiled Various Artists albums. In 1983 he started to work full-time for Coxsone Dodd, and moved to a house beside the legendary studio, at number eleven Brentford Road. One of the reasons King Stitt made so few records -- he made no more than thirty records in total-- is that his "interjected shouting" style was surpassed by the "riding the riddim" style of a new generation of deejays. Nevertheless King Stitt played a significant role in Jamaica's musical development.

Sources: Jamaica Observer and Interview with King Stitt by Dr. Buster Dynamite.
King Stitt
1940-2012




SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Albums:

  • Reggae Fire Beat (Jamaican Gold)
Appears On:

  • Battle Of The DJs - Dancehall Style (Studio One)
  • Dance Hall 63 (Studio One)
  • Veteran DJ Jamboree (RAS Records)
Singles:

  • Fire Corner
  • Vigorton Two
  • Herbsman Shuffle aka Herbsman
  • Soul Language
  • Jump For Joy
  • Lee Van Cleef
  • Dance Beat I
  • Dance Beat II
  • In The City
  • I For I
  • Rub A Dub
  • On The Street
  • Sound Of The 70s
  • Kings Of Kings
  • Skank Corner
  • Back Out Version
  • Redder Than Fred
  • Rhyming Time
  • Live Jah Up