Gregory Isaacs 1950-2010

Gregory Isaacs live at one of his many performances at Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay.

“The Cool Ruler” rules no more, the lovers rock crooner and reggae legend Gregory Isaacs died Monday morning at home in the UK from lung cancer. He was 60.

Gregory had an upcoming tour planned when apparently was not feeling well and went into the hospital in England several weeks ago, the tour was later canceled. According to news reports he was at home with his family when he died.

Gregory was a true reggae legend and a Jamaican music icon. With well over 50 records to his credit and hundreds of singles during a career that spanned four decades. Songs like “Night Nurse”, “Soon Forward”, “Number One”, “Slavemaster”, “Cool Down The Pace”, “Top Ten”, “Front Door”, “Mr. Brown”, “Substitute”, “Poor Millionaire”, “Private Beach Party”, “My Only Lover” – the list goes on and on and on hit after hit. There are not many artist of his caliber left today. He was the consummate performer (when he showed up) and always a crowd pleaser. When he played in Jamaica the crowds would go crazy, specially the women, screaming, jumping up and down, they loved him and his music. His status was right up there with the likes of Bob Marley or Dennis Brown and his musical output was even more prolific.

Gregory like so many other people have had their own personal struggles. In the 80’s he got into cocaine causing problems with his career and his voice. He had been arrested dozens of times, serving time for coke. In 1982 was jailed  for six months on unlicensed firearms charges (he said was for his own protection). Still despite his personal issues he continued to crank out the hits and tour worldwide. Gregory was a great artist by any measure and best I can say now is to quote one of his many hits, “Even though it’s kind of grieving, it’s sad to know (you’re leaving)”. You will be missed by all my friend.

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