UK & OZ music industry farewell Cliff Whyte
In a perfect world Cliff would’ve loved nothing more than to spend time developing new talent for the company he’d set up with cousin Cyril & best friend Winston, 101 Productions. But as an in demand TM, he went where the money was in order to provide for his family. He was a soft-spoken gentle man housed in a foreboding black 6 foot 5 inch frame. Often guarded, he could appear intimidating - but he was a giant softie & once you gained his confidence, he’d open up & reveal a wicked sense of humor.
He met Kylie while on tour in Australia with De La Soul in 1989. Love reared its beautiful head & they moved to London in 1994 where he could be close to family. Cliff was born in Birmingham of West Indian heritage & was rooted in the London Jamaican community. In 1996 Kylie’s sister Karin (my wife) moved to London to be with her for the birth of their first child. At the time they resided in the predominately Afro-Caribbean community of Harlesden. Shortly after Karin’s arrival, Cliff took her around the neighborhood & introduced her as family, along with a subtle warning that she was to be treated with respect. In 1997 my daughter Tamerlaine moved to London to enter the music industry. She worked with Cliff at 101 & with Kylie who at that time was Label Manager for Tommy Boy Records. Tamerlaine also undertook a trial by fire European tour with Ice T & Body Count under Cliff’s watchful eye. He looked out for her as if she was his own daughter & laid the foundations for her career in the music industry.
Australia called, & Cliff, Kylie & son Levi moved home, joining us at Ocean Shores in 1999. Kylie joined the family business & became the in-house publicist for Bluesfest. Not long after, Cliff joined the firm & was based in my office alongside my son-in-law Ben, providing production for our many touring artists. We’d start the morning with a beach walk, discussing the day that lay ahead. He was a calm influence at the office & gained the respect of those he worked with.
Cliff’s battle with the “dreaded disease” was brief. Diagnosed on October 12 - passing last Monday. Survived by wife Kylie, children Levi, Isabella & India & brand spanking new granddaughter Hartley. Devoted sisters Sandra & Lesleyn, & cousin Cyril flew from London to be with him. Cliff’s brother Everall passed away from the same Pancreatic cancer in 2014. His sons Akeel & Aaron had a special bond with their uncle. Cliff’s right-hand man & “brethren”, the indomitable Winston also flew from London to support his friend during his darkest hour. Winnie’s one of life’s great characters & his presence bolstered Cliff’s spirits during his final days.
Along with family & friends, they’ll join together in celebration of the big man’s life at Bangalow A&I Hall on Thursday the 1st of December 1:00pm. We’ll share food, drink, music & stories.
This week his son Levi, a budding Music Producer, received a call from the colourful Flava Fav of Public Enemy. Flav relayed stories of just how respected his dad was within the international music community. De La Soul also took time out from their current Australian tour to spend time at Cliff’s bedside before he passed.
Cliff loved Byron Shire – he said many times, it reminded him of Jamaica – but without the Jamaicans!
Like many who work in the music industry, Cliff had no medical cover, insurance or superannuation. The link below was setup by my daughter Tamerlaine to help with ongoing medical expenses - it now serves a different purpose. If you can help out in any way, no matter how small, the family would be eternally grateful. Respect, Cliff – we’ll meet again down the road.