AS news of the passing of veteran Reggae crooner Gregory Isaacs begins to soak in tributes are flowing in his honour. Isaacs passed away in London this morning from the effects of lung cancer. He had been ailing for some time.
Minister of Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange hailed Isaacs as one of the great pioneers of Jamaican popular music.
“His career was not only about singing: he was a singer, a songwriter, music producer, promoter and recording executive. Few Jamaican artistes can match this versatility, and even fewer were able to succeed in so many areas of entertainment.
I mourn his loss as the Minister responsible for culture, as a good friend of Gregory and as a fan of good Jamaican music, and hope that his struggle and eventual success will be a model for young Jamaicans in the entertainment sector to emulate,” Grange said.
Musicologist and columnist Garth White was also saddened at the news of Isaacs’ death.
“Quite possibly the most arresting feature of Gregory and his compadre Dennis Brown, is how they managed to maintain their appeal through the various changes that our popular music passed through. Thir audience included young and old, both the afficionados from the classic roots reggae era to dancehall,” White said.
Bertram ‘Ras Mandito’ Johnson, General Secretary of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artiste’s and Associates, (JAVAA), said Isaacs would be inducted into the Jamaica Music Hall of Fame.
“Upon the passing of the Cool Ruler of Reggae Gregory Isaacs, JAVAA extends condolences to his family, friends and fans all over the world. Gregory Isaacs has charted an indelible chapter in the annals of the development of Jamaica’s music with his own unique style and with timeless hits,” Johnson told the Observer.
Gregory Isaacs was born on July 15, 1951 in Denham Town, West Kingston.
He won several talent shows as a teenager and recorded his first single as part of a duo with singer Winston Sinclair in 1968 before joining the the group The Concords.
In the early 1970’s he launched his solo career and formed his African Museum record company with singer Errol Dunkley.
He was arrested in sentence for illegal possession of a firearm in 1982 and had serious problems with cocaine addiction.