Crown him King Gregory - Singer's brother says he was a pioneer in lovers' rock
Reggae artiste Gregory Isaacs, OD, is the undisputed king of lovers' rock, according to his brother and former road manager, Ruddy Isaacs, who claims the singer was the first artiste to cement lovers' rock as a subgenre of roots reggae.
The outspoken manager not only credits the late icon for coining the name 'lovers' rock', but also pointed out that the Night Nurse singer was one of the first to tour Europe extensively, performing lover's rock anthems.
"Lovers' rock wasn't a genre until Gregory used the term. He was the one who made them start calling it 'lovers' rock' in England. They used to call that type of music 'blues dance' before as an extension of reggae music. Dem seh Gregory had the potential to make the lovers rock on the dance floor, and that's how they started to call the genre lovers' rock," he told THE STAR.
The veteran manager also said that Dennis Brown, who was a close friend of Gregory and frequent collaborator, also held the late singer in high regard for his musical skills. He said together, both Gregory and Dennis were able to break musical barriers by spreading the message of love in Europe.
"They were the first to sing lovers' rock in Europe. Most of the Jamaican artistes at the time were targeting mostly England, but we were going to Europe and doing over 30 shows consistently. In Switzerland, Monday nights are usually slow for reggae, and when Gregory went there, it was packed," he said.
GET TITLES CORRECT
With that being said, Ruddy Isaacs wants fans of Jamaican music to get the titles correct when making reference to Gregory. He believes the fitting title for the 'Cool Ruler' should be 'Gregory Isaacs, OD, the King of Lovers' Rock'.
"He more than deserves it. He has put in so much work as an artiste and as a producer," he said.
Veteran producer King Jammys, told THE STAR that while Gregory Isaacs does fit the bill, he would stay clear of crowing the icon, since John Holt and Beres Hammond have also contributed significantly to lovers' rock.
"Gregory did a lot of lovers' rock songs, and he was called 'Mr Cool' as a result of that. However, Beres does lovers' rock, too, and he has been consistent, so it is not an easy call. Gregory did a lot in the past, and he was very down-to-earth and rootsy," he said.
"It's a very close race, so it's hard to crown a king. John Holt would also have to be in the race, so it would have to be among the three of them."
The Gregory Isaacs Foundation will be hosting its first Red Rose for Gregory event on February 12 at the Constant Spring Golf Club in St Andrew. The event was conceptualised in honour of Gregory Anthony Isaacs and is the brainchild of his widow, June Isaacs.