Gregory Isaacs loses battle with lung cancer

By RON FANFAIR

Well known Jamaican singer Gregory Isaacs, whose biggest single hit ‘Night Nurse’ was popular in clubs and received heavy radio play, has passed away.

The 59-year-old died of lung cancer in his south London, England home last Monday.

Raised by his mother near Denham Town, Isaacs showed a natural aptitude for singing at an early age and took part in talent contests with his younger brother Sylvester.

He lists his mother as his first vocal role model even though he was inspired by such greats as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

Isaacs’ first major hit, ‘All I Have is Love’, was produced by promoter Phil Pratt in 1973, the same year that educator and community radio host Luther Brown met the singer for the first time.

“I was at Teachers College at the time putting on a cultural event and I went after Gregory trying to see if he could perform for us,” recalled Brown who hosts Caribbean Crucible on CHRY 105.5 FM. “He told me he supported what we were doing, but many people were asking him then to perform for free and that was something he could not do any longer because that was his profession. I totally respected him for that because he was at the peak of his career.”

Brown later interviewed Isaacs when he toured Toronto several years ago.

“I found him to be an extremely pleasant person,” he said. “Life for him was not always easy because he constantly struggled with drug abuse.”

Isaacs spent six months in prison in Jamaica in the early 1980s for possession of an unlicensed firearm which he claims he was carrying for personal protection. He was also busted several times for drug possession.

“Drugs are a debasing weapon,” Isaacs once said. “It was the greatest college ever, but the most expensive school fee ever paid – the Cocaine High School. I learned everything and now I’ve put it on the side.”

His last studio album, Brand New Me, was released two years ago.

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