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In 2008 The Jamaica Star’s Mel Cooke completed an outstanding six-part interview of Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell, the owner / operator of long-time champion sound, Stone Love.

Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell’s Stone Love brought phenomenal sound quality to the business, and has been a key part of dancehall’s breaking class boundaries. It has played at just about every major session in and out of this country, and an overflowing trophy case at their Burlington Avenue headquarters is testimony to their impact. But it did not start large. Over the next six days, the Stone Love story will be told by Wee Pow, in an interview with Mel Cooke, from starting as a component set to rolling out a new system very soon.

Started celebrating

Star: So Stone Love celebrates 36 years officially next Saturday. When you started out, you did project you would reach this far?

Wee Pow: Definitely not. When we just started out it was just like a hobby thing.

S: So you were doing something else, professionally.

WP: By trade I am an electrician. That’s what carry me so close to the sound thing too. And I branch off a little bit and go into the technical part of the electrician work, doing elevator work. Those days I used to work through Will’s Battery, which many people wouldn’t know. It was situated in Cross Roads, in front of Courts there, until they branch off to KIA, Kingston Industrial Agency. So it was not an easy decision to really go full-time into the sound thing. As I say, it started out as a hobby until I decide this must really be full time.

S: So the anniversary you are celebrating now, is from the hobby time or from the professional time?

WP: The celebration started when it becomes professional. We started celebrating at the 21st one. To be honest with you, it took Stone Love like twelve years before we start blossom to bear some fruits. So we were out there playing like house parties, birthday parties and some little functions where flyers or invitations would read like ‘a popular disco’ and we would fit in there, under the umbrella ‘a popular disco’ (there is laughter all around). So as I say, we start celebrating professionally from the 21st, that was at Portmore. They call it Portmore Entertainment Centre. That’s the time the rivalry between Bounty Killer and Beenie Man start. I can remember very, very good.

S: Yeah, cause the Sting war did warm up there so.

WP: Definitely! They were actually coming from the awards function at Coney Park and they ended up at Stone Love anniversary in which the square-off took place. I had to jump in the middle as a mediator as friend to both sides (laughter).

S: I remember listening to the tape over and over and I remember when you said you want it to stop because it a go too far. (Wee Pow says “there you go!”). So the first time you play with the name Stone Love, you remember when that was?

Before Stone Love

WP: To be honest I can’t even retrack to when I started using the name Stone Love. I started naming the sound after my personal name, ‘Wee Pow’, which nobody would really gravitate to. Then I make a quick change to a name ‘Soulmate’, then I had to change that in quick succession also because I learn there was a Soulmate in Trench Town or somewhere around that area. So Stone Love now, I don’t want to really put it as a dream, but it just appear.

Nobody did really like the name either. Yeah, then this big promoter who used to promote Gemini and all them sound there, him used to manage artiste like Papa San, Sassafras, the whole of them would be doing mockery like “Stone Love? Then why didn’t you call it Love Stone?” and so. I make attempt to really change the name (from Stone Love, THE STAR interjects) but basically I was already thinking along the lines of having a name that’s really hard, rigid, something with substance, then the Stone come up and there we go. Then the love. Then it was after that now, I realise that Diana Ross and the Supremes did a song named Stoned Love. But their stone would have an ‘ed’ at the end, like you would say ‘stoned drunk’. But after that now, a group named Kasiv, you have Kool and the Gang, doing songs with the real stone love. But before Stone Love, I don’t know, maybe it was preordained or suppen, I don’t know, it just happen. And is like miracle start happening.

S: The name do suppen fe yu.

WP: Yeah! The name just start working wonders.

S: So how the ‘Movements’ come in now? We know bout the disco, we know bout the hi-fi, but we never hear bout no ‘Movements’ before.

WP: Under the guideline of my technician, Denton Henry, audio technician, he fix the sounds. He was the man now, with these great ideas, in which there was a lot of discos, you had the difference between a disco and hi-fi, where the bigger sound system that plays maybe 90 per cent of local music, yard music, they would be the hi-fi. The disco now, was a different thing (Star interjects, the house party thing), he would be the man like you would have an Afrique Happening. So he was one of the genius behind the ending of the names. You have a Grotto Swing and so forth. So down the line, start listen to him and start penetrate my name now, Stone Love, and Isaac Hayes now, was Isaac Hayes Movements. That was his name, Isaac Hayes Movements. So I decide I going to take the name ‘Movements’.

S: From the Shaft man.

WP: Yeah, from the Shaft man, so it was Stone Love Movements. So the name Movements change along the line, where like Stone Love was the sound at the time, that started revolutionise the whole thing now, wherein what happening inside the clubs, start happening in the dancehall, like two turntable, perfect mixing, with Rory now, so like the Junglists now, that is where we were getting all the blessing from, Trench Town. They were the ones that change the name, take off the name and call it Stone Love Juggling. And that was the first time in my life I was hearing about juggling (with relation to sound system business). I remember one time I have a little suitcase, when I telling my lawyer ‘jugging’, she was asking how do you spell this? So it became known as juggling music, Stone Love Juggling. And afterwards, most of our specials, especially with Tiger and Admiral Bailey, it was straight Stone Love Juggling. Until it just change and reach Stone Love Stands Alone.

S: Was it Shabba that said that ‘Stone Love stands alone’ (a popular signature sound on the system).

WP: Yeah. With Stone Love and Shabba Ranks it goes a far way. In the early days Shabba used to deejay on a friend of mine sound system. That sound never used to play a variety of music, strictly yard music. At that time you have Shabba Ranks, Admiral Bailey, Clement Irie, three main deejay on the set, long before Shabba even start go into Jammys.

S: Story deep!

WP: Yeah. I remember like one of the place that you would say was a springboard of our development, it was Adams Lane, Torrington Bridge. And that was like adjacent to Jones Town, then Jungle. So I used to carry Shabba Ranking down there as special guest to deejay, but he didn’t really like to go down there because of the area he is from, which is dubbed like a Labourite area, a JLP area. I remember we used to give him like $60 (laughter). As I was saying, Shabba Ranks and Stone Love come a very far way. Far far way.

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