Gregory Isaacs body to be flown to Jamaica on Thursday


Reggae legend Gregory Isaacs once again took superstar billing, as hundreds of well-wishers, rather than mourners, celebrated his life in unique style in London.
A sunny, crisp autumn day set the stage for the “Cool Ruler’s” final appearance in the city he regarded as his second home.
The All Saints Anglican Church in Harrow Weald, North London, was packed to the rafters as passionate, reflective tributes flowed from those who knew and loved the singer. The Gregory Isaacs All Star band played all the popular rhythms over which Isaacs delivered numerous number one songs over a 40-year career.
The “Cool Ruler” looked restful, lean from having shed much weight during his final battle with cancer, as his body lay draped in silk, dressed in a white suit with glistening studs and a beautifully engraved Bible in his hands. The artistically carved dark oak coffin was draped red, gold and green, bearing the image of the Lion of Judah. A single wreath, made of white roses, sat atop beside his trademark white fedora.
Tributes flowed, despite not following a specific order. Family members and friends painted Isaacs as a spirited comedian, friend, father and musical genius.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, gave a tribute on behalf of Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, all the members of the Jamaican parliament and the Jamaican community in the UK.
Longtime friend and band leader, Clifton ‘Bigga’ Morrison, recounted his years with Isaacs, in a tribute that was anecdotally engaging and informative. He gave a moving account of Isaacs’ last days, as he visited him at his bedside. The audience joined him in a frequent chant, “We love you Gregory”.
Journalist, Mandingo, gave a detailed account of Isaacs’ life, from his early days at ‘Idlers’ Rest’ in downtown Kingston. He detailed Isaacs’ contribution to the growth of reggae music, and placed in context the impact he had on the development of modern reggae.
Veteran reggae singer King Sounds paid tribute in song, with a rendition of “You’re My Pilot”.
But, perhaps the biggest tribute of all came in the spontaneous chaos that erupted when the band played Isaac’s music. Much of the audience converged on the front of the church and sang the lyrics, word for word.
Vicar James Mercer appeared stunned but quickly acquiesced, as Gregory’s fans were determined to dispatch, with protocol, and celebrate his life in a style reminiscent of his many encore performances across the world.
Among members of the entertainment industry in attendance were J.C. Lodge, Winston Francis, Sylvia Tella, Janet Kay, Winston “Niney” Holness, Audrey Reid and Carl Bradshaw.
Following the ceremony Isaacs’ remains were taken to a rest home at Gatwick Airport, from where it will be flown to Jamaica on Thursday (November 11), for burial on November 20. Isaacs died in London on October 25 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer. He was 59 years old.

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