1946 – January 19, 2012
Winston Riley was an influential and pioneering reggae musician, singer, and producer. Born in Kingston, Riley was just 16 when he formed his first group, the Techniques. The vocal outfit went on to work with such producers as Byron Lee and Duke Reid before splitting up in 1968. It was then that Riley formed his own record label and began producing other artists. Over the next several years, he worked with the likes of the Escorts, Alton Ellis, and Johnny Osbourne. One of his early productions, 1971’s “Double Barrel” as recorded by Dave and Ansel Collins, is considered one of Jamaica’s first international hits for reaching #1 on both the British and Dutch charts. In fact, Riley is widely considered one of the first people to introduce reggae to England. He also produced one of reggae’s most influential albums, the 1979 General Echo release, The Slackest. The list of artists who can give Riley some credit for their success includes Gregory Isaacs, Buju Banton, Sister Nancy, Cutty Ranks, and Frankie Paul. In August of 2011, Riley was stabbed, and then a month later, he was shot in the head. As of the early months following the incidents, police had not apprehended any suspects nor determined motive. On January 19, 2012, Winston Riley died of complications from the shooting. He was 65.