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Rockers

October 26, 2010
by

Gregory Isaacs died yesterday.  From lung cancer at 60.

“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 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.”

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 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.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 2:28 pm

    “Who told the people to live with love ’cause only love can conquer war, and to understand themselves so that they can understand others.”

    Great words. R.I.P.

  2. raginrr permalink
    October 27, 2010 8:17 pm

    this is very sad to read…

    rr

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