At the age of 72, King Stitt, whose DJing technique known as “toasting” was an influence on hip-hop music, lost his battle with prostate cancer. Stitt died at his home in Jamaica after being recently discharged from the hospital.
Stitt, whose real name is Winston Sparks, began his career in the 1950s through portable disco. “Toasting” was a form of Jamaican-style DJing that was one of the influences of what we know now as hip-hop music. “Toasting” is defined as the act of talking or chanting, usually in a monotone melody, over a rhythm or beat.
Stitt is best known for songs like “Paradise Plum” and “Fire Corner.” He collaborated on many occasions with music producer Sir Coxsone and personally dubbed himself “The Ugly One” due to being born with disfigured facial features and having missing teeth as an adult.
“King Stitt’s passing creates a void that can never be filled,” commented Charles Campbell, Chairman of JARIA (Jamaica Reggae Industry Association), which has organized numerous activities throughout February, designated as Reggae Month in Jamaica. “He is an icon, a forerunner of our dancehall deejays who created his own niche in the early days of our industry and became a phenomenon across the island. As we commence our Reggae Month celebrations this evening we will observe a moment of silence in his honor.”
Stitt is survived by one daughter.