Augustus Pablo at home
Augustus Pablo has always been one of my favorite artist from way back so when I got a call to shoot his CD cover I was more than thrilled to say the least. I had met Pablo on several occasions before so that made it somewhat easier for me. Once I was in Jamaica it would turn out to be one of those “soon come” things, it had been raining in the hills for several days so Pablo’s driver, Bigga, was not able to pick me up or would I be able to shoot anyway. This went on for three or four days, waiting for Bigga, I was wondering if this was even going to happen and I was leaving in a few more days. I called every morning until finally after four days he said Bigga would be able to come by around 10 or 11 the next morning, it was 2:30. The drive was nice took about 45 minutes up into the hills, just where one would expect a reclusive man like Pablo to live. I heard he had some health issues over the years and I remember when I got out of the car and he came out and greeted me one of my first thought was how ill and frail he looked.
He showed me around his place and offered me some fresh soursop juice. It was pretty windy outside with a slight mist of rain so after talking and relaxing a bit then I went and scoped out a place to shoot and found a spot in his backyard by a big bamboo fence.
He passed out some herb and more juice while I set up my equipment, it was now later in the afternoon and the light was changing and was sprinkling off and on so I didn’t have as much time as I had hoped for, which seems to always be the case in photography. I got him in the spot I wanted and got my shots. When I shot this image we were taking a break under the shade of the almond tree and he started to play his melodica while his bredrin prepared the chalice. For me it was one of those moments, it doesn’t get any better, hearing the legendary Augustus Pablo play Blowing With The Wind with the wind actually blowing through the Jamaican countryside, was kind of a surreal for a moment. Those are the times that make the job memorable, hearing your favorite artist playing your favorite tunes just for you, it sort of makes up for the lousy pay I guess. After a few more shots he asked me to do some pictures of his family. He went in and changed and came out with his wife and kids and we did some family portraits. Just as I finished those shots, it started to rain so I packed up in a hurry and was ready to go. Pablo was coming along to go see his doctor, Dr.Bagga the herbalist, plus he wanted us to stop by his favorite fish place along Bay Farm road and get some fish tea. We arrived and sat among the roadside stands, traffic whizzing by eating our fish tea making small talk before we left to drop off Pablo at Dr.Bagga’s then Bigga would drop me off at home. It was one of those days you never want to forget.
The CD shots came out nice but sadly, Valley Of Jehosaphat would turn out to be Augustus Pablo’s final studio recording, he died from a nerve disorder about a month after this picture was taken. I was shocked when I heard the news, specially thinking back to my thoughts seeing him come to greet me on that day in the hills. The music world lost a great innovator, artist and a good man.