Yesterday the late Garnett Silk would have turned 45 years old. Instead he died a tragic death only 28 years of age when trying to rescue his mother from a burning house that had been set on fire because of accidental gun fire on a propane gas tank. Garnett Silk was survived by a wife, three children and two brothers.
At the time he had been laying down tracks for his second album with producer Errol Brown and ten tunes were completed and released several years later.
He started his career deejaying as Little Bimbo with tunes such as See Bimbo Yah, but later adopted a style that was highly conscious showcasing his gospel influenced tenor voice. He marked a turning point in reggae and paved the way for singers such as Jahmali, Bushman, Sizzla, Anthony B and rasta converts like Buju Banton and Capleton.
Bobby “Digital” Dixon was the mastermind behind his only full-length album – the astonishing It’s Growing released in 1992. The album was an instant bestseller in Jamaica and Garnett Silk managed to secure an international record deal with Atlantic.
Even though he had a short career he recorded with some of Jamaica’s top talents, including King Jammy, Steely & Clevie, Richard “Bello” Bell and Sly & Robbie, dropping hit tunes like Fill Us Up With Your Mercy, Hello Mama Africa and Zion in a Vision.
After his untimely death there has been several compilations dedicated to his work. The most complete is Music is the Rod. Those who want to dig deeper can check out the two dubplate compilations Killamanjaro Remembers Garnett Silk and Garnett Silk Meets the Conquering Lion.
Garnett Silk has been compared to Bob Marley and hailed as his successor, even though Bob Marley died more than ten years before Garnett Silk dropped his debut album.
It is of course hard to predict whether Garnett Silk would have had a big international breakthrough to the general public, or remained a favourite to the reggae audience.
One thing is however crystal clear – Garnett Silk was a powerful force and is one of the most talented reggae artists of all time. He was a bright shining light and his presence will forever be remembered both through his own great work and through some of his followers – Ras Shiloh, Ras Sherby and Terry Linen. These three artists are great singers, but there is only one Garnett Silk.
Sources: The Rough Guide to Reggae by Steve Barrow & Peter Dalton and The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae by Colin Larkin (editor).
Ten must hear tunes by the late and great Garnett Silk
Garnett Silk – Jah Jah is the Ruler
Garnett Silk – Keep Them Talking
Garnett Silk – Complain
Garnett Silk – Bless Me
Garnett Silk – I am Vex
Garnett Silk – Move On Slow
Garnett Silk – Place in Your Heart
Garnett Silk & Tony Rebel – Christian Soldiers
Garnett Silk – Love is the Answer
Garnett Silk – Splashing Dashing