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The Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports with responsibility for Entertainment, has said that she is deeply saddened by the passing of Jamaican music pioneer and bandleader extraordinaire, Byron Lee, who died this morning.
Minister Grange said that undoubtedly Jamaica has lost another of its “great sons of our music and culture.”
She said that Byron Lee with his band, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires, played a lead role in taking Jamaican music from the grassroots to the middle and upper echelons of Jamaican society and then to the rest of the world.
Minister Grange pointed to Byron Lee’s versatility in the music industry. “He a musician, bandleader, producer, music studio operator, promoter and the man responsible for Trinidad-style Carnival taking hold in the Jamaican cultural and entertainment landscape.”
Minister Grange, in expressing condolences to his family, friends and associates, said the nation would be eternally grateful for the seminal contribution that Byron Lee made to the development and promotion of Jamaican music.
Byron Lee, already the recipient of the Order of Distinction was conferred with the Order of Jamaica, the fourth highest National Honour, at a specially arranged ceremony on October 26. On that occasion Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that history should record in bold the contribution Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires made to Jamaican music, so great was the impact on the lives of so many people.
The famed bandleader, whom his family described not only as “an excellent musician but a very kind, generous, humble and talented man who was always working to use music to unite persons of all ages, races and people from all walks of life,” succumbed after a “brave battle” with cancer.
He is survived by his wife Sheila, sons Byron and Edward John; daughters Deanna, Judith, Julianne and Danielle as well as grandchildren, Amelia, Alexander, Jessica, Victoria, Amanda, Jaden and Dylan.