The banner on Irie FM's homepage paid tribute to the passing of famed DJ Mighty Mike.
Prominent Jamaican radio broadcaster Michael Jones, known professionally as Mighty Mike of the island's popular radio station Irie FM (107.5, broadcast online at iriefm.net) was found dead on July 5th at his home in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
According to Ocho Rios constable Charles Smith foul play is not suspected although investigations are ongoing; complications stemming from diabetes are thought to be the cause of Jones' death. Jones, also a highly regarded sound system selector and record producer, was scheduled to work his regular Thursday 6-10 PM time slot at IRIE on July 5th; when he failed to show up and calls to his cell phone went unanswered, concerned colleagues including IRIE FM's DJ Amber went to Jones' home and found him unconscious, slumped in a chair. Jones was 52 years old.
Irie FM, also based in Ocho Rios, revolutionized Jamaica's radio landscape when it debuted on August 1, 1990 with the island's first (and to date only) all reggae/dancehall format. The station provided a significant platform for numerous artists whose records otherwise might have never been heard on the island's airwaves. According to a Jamaica media survey released in March 2010, IRIE FM ranked number one among Jamaica's 30 radio stations commanding 22.5 percent of listenership.
Born and raised in the central Jamaican parish of Manchester, Jones worked in the island's bauxite industry for several years before deciding to pursue his passion for music. He started out playing records at house parties and social gatherings then ventured into selecting at hotels and nightclubs. While working at Ocho Rios' Club Acropolis (now called Amnesia) Jones' expertise on the turntables caught the attention of the club's manager Ainsworth "Big A" Higgins, veteran broadcaster and chief announcer at Irie FM; when a radio jock position became available at Irie in 1991, Big A recruited Mighty Mike.
Jones' precision mixing skills were highlighted on his late 90s Version Galore series of releases and the Heathen Megamix where he intercut songs recorded on the popular Heathen rhythm (produced by Bobby Digital in 1996, adapted from Bob Marley's 1977 song of the same name) with artists' customized specials, reverbs and other effects.
Mighty Mike is also responsible for jumpstarting the careers of numerous Jamaican superstars including the late singer Garnet Silk and the iconic dancehall deejay/two time Grammy winner Shabba Ranks, by playing their records when they were just starting out. "Mighty Mike always talked to me when no one talked to me, he played Shabba's records when no one played Shabba's records. This was a great man, he had no form of partiality, he always did right by the music; may his soul rest in peace," said an audibly shaken Shabba Ranks in an interview on IRIE FM on Friday July 6th.
Michael Jones is survived by his mother, Winnie, brother Delroy and son Hasani, a.k.a DJ Sani, a popular selector in his own right.