Headley Bennett, affectionately known as “Deadly Headley,” was a Jamaican saxophonist who played a significant role in the development of reggae and ska music. Born on May 28, 1931, in Kingston, Jamaica, Bennett’s passion for music emerged at a young age, and he went on to become one of the most respected and influential saxophonists in the Jamaican music scene.
Bennett began his musical journey by studying saxophone and clarinet at the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, an institution famous for producing some of Jamaica’s most talented musicians. His natural talent and dedication quickly set him apart, and by the 1950s, he was playing with some of the biggest names in the Jamaican music industry, such as Eric Dean’s Orchestra and Clue J and His Blues Blasters.
Headley Bennett’s career took off in the 1960s when he started working with legendary Jamaican producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at the famous Studio One. Bennett’s saxophone can be heard on numerous recordings from that era, and he was an integral part of the vibrant and growing music scene in Jamaica. His work with Dodd allowed him to collaborate with other legendary artists like Bob Marley and The Wailers, playing on some of their earliest recordings.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Bennett continued to work with top Jamaican musicians and producers, including Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bunny Lee, and Augustus Pablo. His unique sound and innovative playing style became a defining feature of reggae and ska music, influencing countless musicians who followed in his footsteps.
Despite his impressive career, Headley Bennett remained a humble and grounded individual, always focused on the music rather than fame or fortune. He continued to perform and record music well into his later years, and his influence on the Jamaican music scene cannot be overstated.
Headley Bennett passed away on August 21, 2016, at the age of 85. His legacy lives on through the countless recordings and performances he contributed to, as well as the generations of musicians he inspired with his incredible talent and passion for music.
Last updated 3/18/2023.