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Old 10-26-2010, 04:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Mr. Cool... death of a legend...

R.I.P - Gregory Isaacs

LONDON - Gregory Isaacs, the Jamaican reggae singer whose smooth style earned him the nickname "Cool Ruler," has died. He was 59.

Isaacs' manager, Copeland Forbes, said the singer died Monday at his London home. Isaacs had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, but continued performing until weeks before his death.

His wife Linda said Isaacs was "well-loved by everyone, his fans and his family, and he worked really hard to make sure he delivered the music they loved and enjoyed."

Born in a Kingston, Jamaica slum in 1951, Isaacs began recording in his teens, and went on to produce scores of albums .

With his sinuous baritone and romantic songs, Isaacs became a leading proponent of the mellow "Lovers Rock" style of reggae. He hit his stride in the mid-1970s with ballads like "Love is Overdue" and "All I Have Is Love."

Later that decade he teamed up with the Jamaican production duo of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare for several hit songs including "Soon Forward" and "What A Feeling."

"Gregory's voice and writing ability was wicked. He was one of those soulful singers you could sit and listen to for hours," Dunbar said Monday.

Isaacs was best known internationally for the title song from his 1982 album "Night Nurse," a club favorite which later became a hit for Simply Red.

His career was stalled by a cocaine habit that landed him in jail on several occasions. Isaacs said ruefully in 2007 that he'd gone to "Cocaine High School ... the greatest college ever, but the most expensive school fee ever paid."

Drug abuse took a toll on his voice but he kept making music, releasing a well-received final album, "Brand New Me," in 2008.

Suggs, lead singer of reggae-influenced British band Madness, said the dapper, fedora-sporting Isaacs was "a great reggae artist and also one of the most sartorially elegant stars on the world stage."
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Old 10-26-2010, 05:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Rest in peace. I've listened to his original stuff.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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New York Times obit:

Quote:

Gregory Isaacs, Reggae Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 60


By ROB KENNER

Gregory Isaacs, reggae’s “Cool Ruler,” whose aching vocals and poignant lyrics about love and loss and ghetto life endeared him to fans of Caribbean music, died on Monday at his home in London. He was 60.

The cause was lung cancer, said his wife, June Isaacs, who lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Cat Coore, the guitarist and cellist for the seminal reggae band Third World, has called Mr. Isaacs “the Frank Sinatra of Jamaica” for his elegant vocal phrasing. But as the singer’s friend and former manager Don Hewitt observed, “It goes further than that, because Sinatra was not a songwriter.”

Mr. Isaacs’s nuanced compositions eschewed sentimental cliché and boastful machismo in favor of a sensitive, even vulnerable point of view. But on songs like “Slave Master” and “Hand Cuff,” he revealed a more militant side.

“Gregory used to sit and go through his lyrics with a dictionary,” his wife, a secondary-school teacher, said in a telephone interview. “He was very clean with his lyrical content and his grammar.”

Born on July 15, 1950, in the rough Kingston neighborhood Denham Town, Mr. Isaacs picked up the nickname Jah Tooth after a policeman broke one of his teeth. Inspired by the American soul singer Sam Cooke, he got his start on a local radio talent show, “The Vere Johns Opportunity Hour.” He was briefly a member of the vocal trio the Concordes before making his name with the solo single “All I Have Is Love” in 1973. Although he established his own Jamaican label and record shop, African Museum, with his fellow reggae singer Errol Dunkley, Mr. Isaacs was later signed to the British labels Virgin and Island.

While true mainstream success eluded him, few recording artists in any genre could rival his prolific output. He recorded hundreds of albums’ worth of original material, starting in the ’70s and concluding in 2008 with his final CD, “Brand New Me.”

Mr. Hewitt said of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones that when he was introduced to Mr. Isaacs, “he carried on like he’d met Jesus.”

Mr. Isaacs was best known for his 1982 release “Night Nurse,” on which he was backed by the renowned band Roots Radics, which he organized in the 1970s. His 1988 album “Red Rose for Gregory” proved that he was equally at home singing over the hard-edged digital rhythms of reggae’s dancehall era.

He was also renowned for his fashion sense; he performed in the 1978 film “Rockers” wearing a powder-blue tuxedo and black fedora. “He was always dapper,” Mrs. Isaacs said. “Very proud, very tidy, very laconic, a man of few words.”

But he could be an aggressive businessman, she added. “He always stood up for what he deserved in whichever way he could,” she said. “When it came to what was due to him, he had to get that. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

When he and his wife were arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in 1983, she said, “he took the rap so I could go free” and served time in Kingston’s General Penitentiary. He was also arrested repeatedly for possession of cocaine and struggled with addiction for many years.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, Enid Murray; a brother, Sylvester; 12 children; and a grandson.

In a 2001 interview, Mr. Isaacs reflected on his legacy. “Look at me as a man who performed works musically,” he said. “Who uplift people who need upliftment, mentally, physically, economically — all forms. Who told the people to live with love ’cause only love can conquer war, and to understand themselves so that they can understand others.”
Gregory was my favorite reggae singer and a friend of mine. I got to know him when I made regular visits to his African Museum Record Shop in Kingston, during the 80s, when I spending six months a year in Jamaica working on my thesis on Marcus Garvey in grad school.

I also managed to hook him up with Harry Boros at the Channel Club in Boston in 1986. Gregory managed to get a 48 hour visa to do one show at the 2000 person capacity club which had almost no seats and was really a big gigantic dance hall.

I worked in the deejay booth during Gregory's Channel appearance and it was the best reggae show I've ever seen. Half-Pint opened the show, followed by Sugar Minott and his crew and finally Gregory came out at 2 am with the Roots Radics backing him and played til 4 am. Gregory is the only singer I've ever seen that made women swoon and pass out right on the dance floor. That night 5 or 7 women fainted while Gregory played.

It's unfortunate that Gregory never gained the overwhelming international popularity of Tosh or Marley. He certainly deserved to be better known. The biggest career barrier for Gregory was he got busted for weapons and drugs charges in 1983, just as he was breaking big in the United States and the UK. Gregory spent a great deal of his time in and out of General Penitentiary (Gregory called it G.P.) over on Tower Street in Kingston. His guns and frequent cocaine drug busts made it nearly impossible for him to tour outside of Jamaica during most of the 80s and early 90s. Harry Boros had to work a lot of diplomatic back channels to get a 48 hour visa for Gregory to play that show in 1986.

Below is my favorite picture of Gregory. I snapped it on my first visit to the African Museum Record Store in 1980. I think Gregory still thought I was a CIA agent back then and he scowled at the camera when I snapped the picture. I like it because it's a picture of Gregory in his Kingstonian element hanging out with the brethren in front of his store and recording studio. I sent a copy of the picture to Gregory and later I noticed to photo was colorized and appeared on the back of one of his UK albums a year or so later. I didn't get a credit for the photo, probably because Gregory couldn't remember who gave it to him.


Rest in Peace, Gregory. You will always be the Cool Ruler.
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Old 10-27-2010, 05:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gavin B. View Post
Below is my favorite picture of Gregory. I snapped it on my first visit to the African Museum Record Store in 1980. I think Gregory still thought I was a CIA agent back then and he scowled at the camera when I snapped the picture. I like it because it's a picture of Gregory in his Kingstonian element hanging out with the brethren in front of his store and recording studio. I sent a copy of the picture to Gregory and later I noticed to photo was colorized and appeared on the back of one of his UK albums a year or so later. I didn't get a credit for the photo, probably because Gregory couldn't remember who gave it to him.


Rest in Peace, Gregory. You will always be the Cool Ruler.
You never cease to amaze, man

And my respects to Isaacs - he was definitely one of the (or maybe even the) best.
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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R.I.P. The very definition of Lover's Rock.

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Old 01-28-2014, 12:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Excuse me for interrupting, but I would like to correct a mistaken photo credit that appears above, The photo of Gregory was, in fact, taken by me - you can look it up anywhere in the internet- in 1983. It was not colorized. it was taken on color slide film

Beth Lesser

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Old 01-28-2014, 02:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gavin B. View Post

Below is my favorite picture of Gregory. I snapped it on my first visit to the African Museum Record Store in 1980. I think Gregory still thought I was a CIA agent back then and he scowled at the camera when I snapped the picture. I like it because it's a picture of Gregory in his Kingstonian element hanging out with the brethren in front of his store and recording studio. I sent a copy of the picture to Gregory and later I noticed to photo was colorized and appeared on the back of one of his UK albums a year or so later. I didn't get a credit for the photo, probably because Gregory couldn't remember who gave it to him.


Rest in Peace, Gregory. You will always be the Cool Ruler.
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Excuse me for interrupting, but I would like to correct a mistaken photo credit that appears above, The photo of Gregory was, in fact, taken by me - you can look it up anywhere in the internet- in 1983. It was not colorized. it was taken on color slide film

Beth Lesser
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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so youre tellin me someone lied on the internet??
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Old 01-28-2014, 03:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by bethlesser View Post
Excuse me for interrupting, but I would like to correct a mistaken photo credit that appears above, The photo of Gregory was, in fact, taken by me - you can look it up anywhere in the internet- in 1983. It was not colorized. it was taken on color slide film

Beth Lesser
Dear Beth:

Allow me to apologize. You may well be be the photographer of that picture of Gregory in front of the African Museum store.

Let me explain my error. When I was living in Jamaica I took hundreds of photos of reggae artists and producers, most of which I gave away to the subjects of my photographs. For me, taking pictures was a way of getting to know the subjects of my photographs and to further appreciate the wondrous music they were playing. Most of my subjects loved getting the photos of themselves, whether the photos were posed or candid shots. I never asked for credits or royalties for any of the pictures I took.

When I gave up photography in the late Eighties I sold all my equipment and destroyed all my negatives. So I think my memory was playing tricks on me when I thought the photo was mine... But I did take a number of photos of Gregory both inside and outside of the African Museum, I believe sometime around 1980. I still come across photos that people said I took of them, which I have absolutely no memory of taking. After all it's been 30 years since I held a camera in my hand.

I do remember that day when I took 30 to 40 photos of Gregory at the African Museum but I can't say without uncertainty that photograph you claimed to have taken, was actually one of those photos I took.

I was relying more on my memory of that day, than my first hand knowledge actual photo which undoubtedly was taken by you. When I saw it posted on the internet, I made the false assumption that the picture was one of the photos I took of Gregory 34 years ago. I was wrong to make that assumption.

I'm glad you raised the issue with me and I apologize for taking credit where credit was not due.

Gavin B.
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Old 01-28-2014, 07:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gavin B. View Post
Dear Beth:

Allow me to apologize. You may well be be the photographer of that picture of Gregory in front of the African Museum store.

Let me explain my error. When I was living in Jamaica I took hundreds of photos of reggae artists and producers, most of which I gave away to the subjects of my photographs. For me, taking pictures was a way of getting to know the subjects of my photographs and to further appreciate the wondrous music they were playing. Most of my subjects loved getting the photos of themselves, whether the photos were posed or candid shots. I never asked for credits or royalties for any of the pictures I took.

When I gave up photography in the late Eighties I sold all my equipment and destroyed all my negatives. So I think my memory was playing tricks on me when I thought the photo was mine... But I did take a number of photos of Gregory both inside and outside of the African Museum, I believe sometime around 1980. I still come across photos that people said I took of them, which I have absolutely no memory of taking. After all it's been 30 years since I held a camera in my hand.

I do remember that day when I took 30 to 40 photos of Gregory at the African Museum but I can't say without uncertainty that photograph you claimed to have taken, was actually one of those photos I took.

I was relying more on my memory of that day, than my first hand knowledge actual photo which undoubtedly was taken by you. When I saw it posted on the internet, I made the false assumption that the picture was one of the photos I took of Gregory 34 years ago. I was wrong to make that assumption.

I'm glad you raised the issue with me and I apologize for taking credit where credit was not due.

Gavin B.
Gavin,

Just wondering... you took a picture of Gregory Isaacs in front of that same African museum store and in the same general pose 3 years earlier? Do you still have those pictures you can post for us? I'm sure the fans would love to see them.
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