Just a quick drop of two outstanding written pieces on the great Gregory Isaacs. Behind Bob Marley I would say that Gregory Isaacs is the most beloved reggae artist to ever emerge from Jamaica. He was without a doubt the most prolific, most influential, most popular Jamaican artist since Bob Marley.
Gregory was a true “sufferah.” His continual struggle to conquer his personal demons endeared him with the Jamaican people. In my opinion, Gregory was wrongly cast aside by many uptowners and journalists who have no overstanding about the insidious nature of substance addiction and the toll it takes on the mind and body. A very well-known producer once told me that Gregory Isaacs was one of two true geniuses he ever worked with, the other being Sly Dunbar. Many who knew Gregory well have confirmed his genius. This is a man who literally could not stop writing songs. The only way he found to deal with the furious activity of his mind was to numb it with drugs.
The first is an article by Roger Steffens which appeared in The Beat in 1995.
Doctor Dread and Roger Steffens fly down to Jamaica to do an interview with Gregory Isaacs, a man who did very few interviews. However, he promised the interview to Doc, who oversaw his publishing for more than 20 years (and currently manages his estate).
What ensues is a frustrating yet entertaining “cat and mouse” game where Roger and Doc try to pin Gregory down for the interview on several occasions only to endure and witness first hand the spiritual, mental, and physical torture inflicted upon the uber-talent by his rampant drug use. Eventually, Gregory relents and grants the interview, and Roger follows with this piece in The Beat – my favorite interview and, in my opinion, the finest piece Roger ever wrote for The Beat.
The second piece was written by Jens Winton reporting from Jamaica for Reggae Report in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. On September 12, with winds reaching 175 miles per hour, the Category 5 hurricane devastated Jamaica. With a 40-mile-wide eye, the hurricane covered the entire island. The tin roofs that covered most homes were no match for the winds–about 80 percent of the island’s homes were seriously damaged and approximately 500,000 of the country’s 2 million people were left homeless. Nearly every home on the island lost electricity. Worst of all, more than 200 people lost their lives. Misery.
Give thanks to our good friend and former publisher of Reggae Report M. Peggy Quattro for sharing this amazing piece of reggae history.