Winston “Merritone” Blake – OD, is one of Jamaica’s legendary Reggae sound system icon. Merritone as he is affectionately called and the name of his sound system was at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in New York on Sunday July 22, 2012. I caught up with Winston, one of the Blake brothers from the famous Merritone Sound System out of Jamaica. Winston was enjoying the show at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. The show featured Reggae Artist, Tarrus Riley and Jamaica’s Greatest Show Band as they are called, “The Fab 5 Band.” For an icon such as Winston, he has been in the music business for decades. His love affair with music still remains very deep and close to his heart. Blake who was born 19/11/40 in Morant Bay, Jamaica, have been around the music since his teenager days. By the mid 1960’s he and his brothers were been booked in nightclubs in Kingston and around Jamaica. Today, he continues play in festivals, night clubs, pick nicks in the park around the world.
It was an honor and my pleasure to spend some time speaking with Mr. Winston Blake. Between Robin (AJE-partner) and I, we have attended many, many Merritone dances in and out of Jamaica. After all, Merritone is the oldest active sound system out of Jamaica and possibly around the world. The style of music Merritone plays, are the crown favorite vintage hits out of Jamaica. Blake is not only a legendary deejay but he’s also a music producer and promoter as well. Over the years, he have participated in many talent shows. Blake can be credited for helping to launch the careers of one of Jamaica’s greatest singer, the “Boss”, Beres Hammond along with many others included his wife Cynthia Schloss, who unfortunately past away in 1999.
He also helped to produce Reggae Artist Hopeton Lewis and one of his biggest hit, ‘Take It Easy’. Over his career, Blake have worked with many reggae artist including Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, and Big Youth in a live concert recording in Jamaica. Winston Blake is also a vocalist/deejay. He can be heard on a number of recording which includes his debut song, ‘Cambodia’ then ‘Especially For You’ was recorded later.
Winston was quick to point out that the Merritone sound plays at “Turntable Thursday at Waterfalls” which is located at the corner of Mona and Hope Rd, Liguanea in Kingston Jamaica. Any name with “Turntable” have to be a success for Mr. Blake. It was back in 1972 he opened the “Turntable Club” in Kingston. He later released “Live At The Turntable Club” in the UK. Both Turntables were successful. Winston recently received the US Congressional Proclamation for his contribution in music. He was awarded the OD (Order of Distinction) by the Jamaican Government for his contribution to Jamaica’s entertainment industry. We at AJE wanted to say congratulations and thank you Mr. Blake and continue doing what you was born to do.