Where are they now? - Walt Crooks, the man who created Disco Inferno
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
In the 1970s, the foremost personality in entertainment in western Jamaica was noted Montego Bay businessman Walt Crooks, who created the world-renowned Disco Inferno, a signature attraction that became an integral part of the western city's tourism offering at the time.
According to Crooks, a qualified chemical engineer and Cornwall College old boy, his sojourn into entertainment was in response to a mid-1970s to early 1980s request by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for the creation of events to attract visitors to the island during the summer months, which was then plagued by very low hotel occupancy.
"Club Inferno and Reggae Sunsplash came about as a result of that appeal," said Crooks.
"While Reggae Sunsplash showcased entertainment in a stage show format, at Disco Inferno, we had a diversified entertainment that attracted some of the biggest names in show business. Interestingly, we helped to break some of the biggest stars in Jamaica's music."
During that era, Disco Inferno hosted major global events such as the Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International Competition and iconic recording star Harry Belafonte.
Tourism marketing tool
"Our entertainment brand became so strong at the time that the JTB felt comfortable using entertainment as a tourism marketing tool for the first time," said Crooks. "We used to have thousands of persons coming into the island from all over to the world for events at Disco Inferno."
Today, the vastly experienced Crooks, who spends most of his time working on projects to help Cornwall College, is far from impressed with the state of entertainment in Montego Bay.
"Entertainment is slipping back tremendously ... The consciousness is gone, and we are, seemingly, settling for mediocrity," said Crooks.
"As a nation, we have an obligation to restore our music to a place of respect ... music has the potential to generate tremendous revenue for Jamaica, but it must be of a standard to appeal to the world," Crooks.