REMEMBER | Frankie Paul, famed Reggae artist, passed away with little fanfare, but leaving a lasting impact

Frankie Paul did not waste his time, as short as his life was. Could a little help from his friends have extended his life?

Jamaican Reggae artiste, Frankie Paul (1965 – 2017), died at 52, at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, following a long illness. He had been suffering from kidney problems and was on dialysis two days per week. Paul Blake, better known as Frankie Paul, was a hugely influential Dancehall & Reggae star of the 1980s and 1990s. Paul died on the 18th of May 2017. According to his sister, Trish Clarke, he died shortly after 10:00 pm.


Born in Jamaica in 1965, Paul was born blind, but as a child he underwent surgery that had partially restored his sight by an operation that took place on a hospital ship. He spent his early life at the Salvation Army School for the Blind. While there he met American RnB singer Stevie Wonder, who was in Kingston for a show at the National Stadium in the 1970s. He sang for, and impressed Stevie Wonder when Wonder visited the school that Blake attended, prompting him to pursue a singing career. Wonder urged him to become a professional singer. Like Wonder, Paul also played a number of instruments including the keyboard.

He first found fame in the early 1980s, and he recorded prolifically throughout the decade. He has recorded for virtually every producer/studio in Jamaica at some time, and has been known to release several albums a year. Frankie Paul moved to the African nation, The Gambia in 1994.

Frankie Paul has made a tremendous contribution to Jamaican music and leaves a legacy behind. The partially blind singer is one of the best voices to ever come out of Jamaica. He was even dubbed as the “Jamaica’s Stevie Wonder”. Some of his hits include “Worries In the Dance”, “Pass the Ku Shung Peng”, “Tidal Wave”, “Cassanova” and “Sarah”.

“Frankie Paul has a voice that improves with each release and, although initially compared with Dennis Brown, he has evolved a strange nasal, throaty style that makes him sound much older. It’s the sheer exuberance of his best performances that give away his youthfulness, and his two London appearances have been joyous occasions.” – NME (4 May 1985)

Frankie Paul recorded so many hit songs and meant so much to reggae but as good as he was to reggae and dancehall, the dancehall fraternity was not always kind to him. Top flight DJs like Capleton and Beenie Man had songs which contained disparaging remarks about Frankie Paul, with Beenie Man saying that he will never do a song with Frankie.

It was not a surprise that when Frankie got ill, a lot of the entertainers did not show any support. Last year after Paul lost a leg because of his illness. A benefit concert was held to purchase a prosthetic leg for the star. While artists like Tristan Palmer, George Nooks, Lloyd Parks, Philip Frazer and Little John showed their support, many artists declined to help.

Just a few weeks before his death, family and friends of Frankie Paul were asking for help in the media. Frankie had kidney disease and needed dialysis twice a week.

Dancehall HipHop

Friends, including dancehall artiste/producer Wayne Lonesome were assisting him in meeting a huge hospital bill of some $1.5 million when he died. He had been admitted to the hospital since April. Artists like Sizzla and Ninjaman are busy with their own movements aimed at uplifting Jamaica and Jamaicans but what are other artists who are not doing any kind of charity work. Could their financial support have bought Frankie a little more time? It would have been great to see the reggae and dancehall fraternity offering support to a legend who has meant so much to both genres.

“He will be sadly missed by us, his friends, his colleagues in the music business, his faimily and thousands of fans around the world who loved his music,” Lonesome told the OBSERVER ONLINE this morning.

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