Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Cool Ruler Ends His Reign

It doesn't get any better than listening to Gregory Isaacs' smooth vocals on a balmy Jamaican night. His voice glided over lyrics, caressing them gently, like a Caribbean breeze.  I first heard him live at a concert in Mandeville, Jamaica and I've been a fan ever since. Decked out in custom-made suits with a fedora tipped rakishly to the side, he earned the name of the Cool Ruler, King of Lover's Rock, which combines the melodies of roots reggae with dancehall riddims.  Producing 500 albums over his 40-year career, he won a loyal following not just because of his singing skills but because of the vulnerability he displayed. He battled drug addiction for most of his life, entering rehab, losing teeth, and facing arrest constantly but he always managed to come back, his voice still lovely. Gregory died at 59 yesterday, from lung cancer, refusing any operations. His presence will forever be missed but his music lives on. The video below is of one of my favorite songs, "My Only Lover," which was Gregory's first hit in 1973. Listen to the Wailers band back him in this magical reggae ballad:

14 comments:

Catherine said...

I missed that piece of news - what a truly sad loss...

Fly Girl said...

Catherine, reggae fans are really mourning his passing.

John said...

I am a music buff and like a wide variety of music, but unfortunately have not listened to very much reggae. Now that I have read your post, I want to listen to what Gregory Isaacs recorded and will make a point to do so. I suspect I'll be disappointed I never got to see him live.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I've never heard of him before - but now I'll be sure to check out his music :)

Fly Girl said...

John, I'm so glad that I helped you discover new music. Gregory Isaacs is one of reggae's best balladeers,I'm sure you'll fond something to like. Thanks for dropping by.

Rachel, Gregory actually has a huge following in London and that's actually where he passed away. It shouldn't be too hard to find his music.

Beauty Is Diverse said...

R.I.P Loved his music.

Fly Girl said...

Tiffany, I think all reggae fans loved his music.

eden said...

I am not familiar with him but I really enjoyed the video you shared.

Have a great weekend.

Fly Girl said...

Eden, I'm so glad you got to hear him for the first time!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That suit is something else. A sad loss.

Mary R said...

What a stylish and talented person. 59 is so young!

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, it is a loss but his music will always be with us.

Mary, 59 is way too young. I believe he would have survived if he had agreed to the operation for his cancer.

Ekua said...

Ah, Gregory Isaacs. It's cool that you got a chance to see him live. It makes me sad when the older Jamaican reggae artists pass on, there are not many younger reggae artists who can reach their level, especially with the draw of more popular styles of the moment :/

Fly Girl said...

Ekua, I think the tradition that Gregory started is being carried on by younger reggae artists like Jamelody, Etana and Morgan Heritage, check them out!