Brenton Dowe

Biography by

Brenton Dowe's velvety vocals and idiosyncratic phrasing established the Melodians among the biggest-selling harmony trios of Jamaica's rocksteady era. Born in Point District, Jamaica, on June 29, 1946,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Brenton Dowe's velvety vocals and idiosyncratic phrasing established the Melodians among the biggest-selling harmony trios of Jamaica's rocksteady era. Born in Point District, Jamaica, on June 29, 1946, Dowe was raised by his mother, who relocated the family to the Kingston area in 1953. As a child he sang in church and at school, and at 16 befriended fellow tenor Tony Brevett, nephew of Skatalites bassist Lloyd Brevett. Dowe soon joined Brevett's group, the Melodians, which also included tenor Trevor McNaughton and baritone Bradfield Brown. After landing a weekly gig at the local Kittymat Club, the quartet began recording under producer Prince Buster, although their early efforts remained confined to sound-system play. After Brown exited the Melodians, the remaining trio briefly recorded for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One before jumping to Treasure Isle in 1967. There they notched the chart-topping single "You Don't Need Me" as well as the smashes "I Will Get Along," "Come on Little Girl," and "Expo 67." Under the direction of producer Sonia Pottinger, the Melodians evolved from rocksteady to reggae with the blockbuster "Little Nut Tree." However, they earned their greatest success in collaboration with producer Leslie Kong, who helmed their crossover classics "Sweet Sensation" and "Rivers of Babylon." By 1969 Dowe was also recording as a solo act, and the Melodians even briefly split in 1973 when he cut the Pottinger-produced solo LP Build Me Up. Although the trio reunited to record the LP Pre-Meditation, Pottinger shelved the project in the wake of creative disputes, and Dowe resumed his solo pursuits with producer Niney the Observer before scoring his greatest success with the Lee Perry-helmed "Down Here in Babylon." The Melodians resumed their recording career with 1976's Sweet Sensations before entering semi-retirement. Dowe later recorded with producers including Prince Tony Robertson and Joe Gibbs but rarely reclaimed the commercial and critical notoriety of his previous work, enjoying his greatest acclaim with 1983's What Can Love Do. He suffered a fatal heart attack on January 29, 2006.