(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Vaughn Benjamin, charismatic founder and singer of the Midnite band, died on November 4 in Port St Lucie, Florida. He was 50.
His death was confirmed by Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred, his close friend, who owns the I Grade Records company that distributed several of Benjamin’s albums.
Born in Antigua, Benjamin moved with his family as a child to St Croix in the United States Virgin Islands, where he and his older brother Ron formed Midnite in 1989.
The six-piece band led an outburst of reggae artistes from the US Virgin Islands that included Pressure Buss Pipe, Dezarie and Reemah.
Midnite won a loyal following on the United States west coast and Pacific Northwest through tireless touring and frenetic recording.
They disbanded in 2015 and reformed without Ron as Akae Bakae, but continued to record and tour with Benjamin as its principal.
Tippy I, who is from St Croix, told the Jamaica Observer that Benjamin recorded 72 albums, with Midnite or as a solo act. I Grade Records produced his last album, Mek A Menshun, which was released in July.
“He was the most prolific reggae artiste of this generation. Vaughn raised the bar for lyrical content,” said Tippy I.
Benjamin was strongly influenced by classic Jamaican roots-reggae. He collaborated with a number of Jamaican acts, including Protoje, Jah9 and Lutan Fyah.
Benjamin’s lone performance in Jamaica was at Hope Gardens in 2016. He also launched his album, Portals, in Kingston that year.
Vaughn Benjamin is survived by his wife and 11 children.