No Foul Play Suspected In Sudden Death Of Jamaican Veteran DJ Merciless

Screenshot of Merciless via OnStage TV
Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Police called to Harlem Hotel after staff in Kingston’s corporate area discovered body of 51-year-old Bartley

Leonard ‘Merciless’ Bartley, the renowned Jamaican veteran DJ and dancehall/reggae star, is believed to have died unexpectedly from natural causes. The Clarendon-born musician was discovered in a hotel room just after 5pm yesterday (19 July), possibly having suffered a heart attack at the age of 51.

IRIE FM, Jamaica’s leading radio station, posted on the social media channel Twitter that the popular artist was believed to have consumed a lot of alcohol prior to his sudden death. The police are not treating the incident as suspicious, after he was discovered dead at the Harlem Resort on Beechwood Avenue in Kingston’s corporate area.

Bartley, who had recently been making a new music video as part of his latest album release, checked into the hotel in the early hours of the morning. He ordered tea and claimed to staff that he felt sick.


Hotel staff checked on him only to discover that he had passed away. Police were called to the scene, and reportedly spent an hour trying to fathom out the cause of death.

Marlon Nesbeth, Senior Superintendent of Police Marlon Nesbeth, who heads the St James Police Division, told the media: “The death was unexpected. According to reports, the performer said he wasn’t feeling well over the weekend.”

The star, who only began recording in 1994, soon made an impact with “Lend Out Mi Mercy”. He changed his stage name from ‘Sugar Demus’ to ‘Merciless’, influenced by his up-and-coming producer Khadafi who went on to become his manager.

The following year Bartley used on his tune “Mavis” the same riddim as compatriot Shaggy had sported on the global no.1 song “Mr Boombastic”. Although he didn’t achieve worldwide fame from his song, “Mavis” finished as Jamaica’s top reggae single in 1995.

Bartley swiftly raised his profile with a number of hits, including “Gal Dem Gizado” and “Mr Whoodini”, before parting way with Khadafi.
He then became infamous for high-profile stage battles with Jamaica music rivals Beenie Man and Bounty Hunter, which earned him the nickname ‘Warhead’.

Although Bartley spread his wings – so that he wasn’t sticking to culture songs, girly tunes or songs about guns and violence – he never reached the dizzy heights of some of his fellow Jamaican artistes. However, he was often a headliner at events in the United States.

Unfortunately Bartley never really got over the sudden death from natural causes of his American wife, Keisha Gibbs Bartley. She passed away seven years ago, aged 41, while he was at the recording studio.


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