Subject: Jamaican in China!–Gregory Isaacs, The Cool Ruler, R.I.P.
Date: October 27, 2010 11:46:36 AM GMT+08:00
This is a brief, but important interlude from my adventures here in China, to let fans of Jamaican culture, and Reggae specifically know that noted Reggae singer, Gregory Isaacs, (aka “The Cool Ruler”) passed on Oct 25, 2010.
Gregory Isaacs’ astonishing collection of music (some say he recorded over 500 albums) was a staple of my playlist for the five years I was known as “Sir Walt” the Reggae DJ on New York’s WKC-FM radio station. Every Thursday night, from 11:30pm to 1:00am, I would play the music of an international array of Reggae artists with different styles, particularly Lovers Rock.
In case you’re not aware, within what the outside world simply knows as “Reggae,” there are, in fact, many different “styles” and sub genres.
The fast-tempoed, dance club oriented style popularized by artists such as Sean Paul, Shabba Ranks, et.al, is just one of these. A visit to a well-stocked Reggae shop or private collection, however, might have music arranged in the following categories:
- Roots & Culture
- Lovers Rock
- Studio One (the famous recording studio that, because of its unique sound, is considered a genre unto itself!)
- Dancehall, and
- Slackness (a dancehall style that tends towards the risque, to put it mildly)
Within Lovers Rock, certain names reign supreme: Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott, John Holt, Beres Hammond, Maxi Priest, June Lodge, Frankie Paul, Winston Reedy, Delroy Wilson, just to name a few, and, of course, Gregory Isaacs, who is credited with originating, popularizing and essentially, being the epitome of the Lovers Rock artist in lyrical content and his signature delivery in which he punctuated key verses of his songs with a seductive moan that only Gregory could pull off!His most popular song was the international hit “Night Nurse.”(Search for it on youtube)
Tell her try her best just to make it quick
Woman tend to the sick
‘Cause there must be something she can do
This heart is broken in two
Tell her it’s a case of emergency
There’s a patient by the name of Gregory
Only you alone can quench this yah thirst
My night nurse, oh gosh
Oh the pain is getting worse!
To add a variation on the theme, he followed it up with “Private Secretary”
She said she wants to be
my personal secretary
She’ll fix my desk, she’ll fix my chair
Yes, she told me she would take good care
You’re a middle-aged business man, (she said)
and I sure want to give a hand
My own top favorite Gregory albums are
– Extra Classic
– Red Rose for Gregory, and
– Out Deh (the cover for which the photo below was taken)
Even though Gregory was most popular as a Lover’s Rock artist, he had many songs which made revealing social commentary, and chronicled his own life’s journey. Out Deh, the title track, which means “Out There” was written by Gregory while he was incarcerated.
I was taken from my people, robbed of my liberty
I was tired of the jail house, but the jail house wasn’t tired of me
Every day you take a stock, [it’s] just war along the whole cell block
And all that I can hear the prisoners say, “a strictly out deh!”
A so me hear dem say
A so me hear dem pray. One day.
Photo of Dennis Brown, Freddie McGreggor, and Gregory the don in the white hat! (early 1980s, perhaps; from the Jamaicans.com forum)
FOR MORE PHOTOS, NEWS REPORTS AND A FORUM for FANS WHO ARE SHARING THEIR GREGORY ISAACS MEMORIES, visit the Gregory Isaacs tribute page at