Barry Brown was one of a number of singers to find success in the 1970s under “flying cymbals” record producer Bunny Lee.
After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens with Rod Taylor and Johnny Lee, Brown went solo. Although his first release, “Girl You’re Always on My Mind”, had little impact, his vocal style soon found popularity, with his first hit single coming with 1979’s “Step It Up Youthman”, which led to an album of the same name on Paradise Records.
One of the most successful artists of the early dancehall era, Brown worked with some of Jamaica’s top producers of the time, including Linval Thompson, Winston “Niney The Observer” Holness, Sugar Minott and Coxsone Dodd, as well as releasing self-produced material.
He recorded for Studio One in 1983, including Far East. After releasing eleven albums between 1979 and 1984, Brown’s releases became more sporadic, although his work continued to feature prominently on spiritually inclined roots reggae sound systems such as that of Jah Shaka, who regularly played out tunes like Scientist and King Tubby’s engineered Separation, Step it up Youthman, Enter the Kingdom of Zion and his recut of Johnny Clarke’s Cool Down Your Temper, which Barry Brown titled Cool Pon Your Corner and Natty Roots Man, of which the vocal was partially based on Johnny Clarke’s Enter into His Gates With Praise , the dub being a recut of jazz standard Take Five, with Tommy McCook on flute .
A number of these tracks were collected by Steve Barrow and released on Blood and Fire (record label).
In the 1990s, Brown’s health deteriorated, suffering from asthma and substance abuse problems, and he died in May 2004 in Sone Waves recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica, after falling and hitting his head.