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Reggae Singer Dennis Brown Dies

July 2, 1999

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Dennis Brown, a former child star who became known as the Crown Prince of Reggae, died Thursday at a Kingston hospital. He was 42.

Initial reports suggested Brown died of complications caused by respiratory problems, but his cause of death has not been confirmed, said Carl Davis of the University of the West Indies Hospital.

Brown rose to prominence amid a 1970s wave of reggae singers that included Bob Marley, who introduced reggae music to listeners worldwide. Brown released more than 50 albums and a string of hit songs beginning with ``No Man is an Island,″ which he recorded in 1969 at the age of 12.

``He was the best thing that ever happened to a reggae song,″ said Michael Bennett, who produced Brown’s last hit song, ``If You Want Me,″ in 1991.

Brown recorded his first work at Studio One, the legendary Jamaican studio where Marley also got his start. He began recording songs by country singer Glen Campbell and soul star Al Green and by the mid-1970s had broadened his work to become one of Jamaica’s most popular performers.

During that decade he produced hits including ``Westbound Train,″ ``How Could I Leave,″ and ``Ghetto Girl,″ a song recently recorded by British singer Mick Hucknall of the pop group Simply Red.

He was often seen as an heir to Marley, who died in 1981, and by the mid-1980s was being promoted as the ``Crown Prince of Reggae,″ the same title once used by Marley.

His 1995 album, ``Light my Fire,″ earned a Grammy nomination.

He is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and 13 children.

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