Brown's first recording was "Lips of Wine" recorded for Derrick Harriott (The Musical Chariot), but this was not released initially. He then recorded for the legendary Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and, and Dodd released Brown's first single, "No Man is an Island". Dennis Brown recorded two albums for Dodd, No Man is an Island and If I Follow my Heart, the title track of which was penned by another Jamaican singing legend Alton Ellis. At about this time, Brown recorded further material for other producers such as Lloyd Daley the Matador ("Baby Don't Do It" and "Things in Life") and recorded more material for Derrick Hariott which eventually saw release as the Super Reggae and Soul Hits album. He also worked for Earl Hayles and the Charmaine label (named after his Hayle's wife) early in his career. In 1977 he had a Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom. This led to his contract with A&M Records, and starting his own label, DEB records. DEB records produced a number of hits, including many by Junior Delgado.
His first smash hit was "Money In My Pocket" on the Joe Gibbs label, and by the late 1970s, working for various producers, Brown had recorded and performed chart toppers such as "Sitting & Watching", "Wolves and Leopards", "Here I Come" & "Revolution", many featuring Sly and Robbie as the rhythm section.
As the dancehall era of the 1980s arrived, "Emmanuel" maintained his relevance within Jamaican music, frequently recording with King Jammy and Gussie Clark. By the time of his death in 1999, he had recorded over seventy five albums. Brown was such a prolific recording artist, with many labels and producers. His peak years are generally considered to be the 1970s, the compilation album 'The Prime of Dennis Brown' is a good showcase of his mid-70's period. The albums 'Visions' and 'Wolf and Leopard' are also classics and essential in the collections of fans of 1970s reggae. However, the 1980s showed Brown's enduring appeal, notably with "Sitting and Watching", "The Promised Land" and "Revolution", songs that are the equal of his 70's golden years.
Revolution is featured on the Reggae radio station K-JAH Radio West in popular videogame Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, released in October 2004.
According to some sources, Brown became addicted to crack cocaine, which affected his career and may have lead to his premature death. Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and opposition leader Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party both spoke at Brown's funeral, which was held on July 17, 1999 in Kingston, Jamaica. The service, which lasted for three hours, also featured live performances by Maxi Priest, Shaggy, and five of Brown's sons. Brown was then buried at Kingston's National Heroes Park.
See you in Jamaica.