Jackie Bernard of The Kingstonians is dead
A Sunday Gleaner article earlier this year highlighted the condition of Jackie Bernard, lead singer of reggae band, the Kingstonians. It was reported that the singer had fallen on hard times and needed assistance in getting some basic items. A follow-up article reported that the singer?s health was improving as persons came forward to offer assistance.
Now, only a few months later, the Sufferer singer has died. The Gleaner has learnt that the reggae singer passed away on Monday at the Kingston Public Hospital after being admitted with chest pains last week Monday. His caretaker, Dexter Dennis, told The Gleaner that news of Bernard?s death came as a shock to him, because the singer seemed to be recovering well when he visited. ?I was the one that took him to the hospital and I made it my duty to visit him regularly during the week and he was improving, so when I got the call, I was in disbelief,? he said. While the cause of death has not yet been confirmed, Dennis said he was told that Bernard had pneumonia and developed some complications.
He also said that though it is still early days yet, laying the singer to rest could prove difficult. ?I only know of one sister and she is aware that he died and is helping in the best way she knows how, but I?m sure that as time goes on, we may need help with the funeral arrangements,? he explained. ?We will do all that we can and wait to see what happens.?
He went on to express disappointment at the way Bernard was treated in the last few months of his life, particularly by family members. Dennis said he believes Bernard still has family out there who can help, but because of neglect, had to resort to whatever assistance he could get from outsiders. He also revealed that donations made to the Jackie Bernard Fund also helped with much-needed medical supplies, as well as basic food items, for the ailing singer.
As news of his death spreads, Frankie Campbell, chairman of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates, was among those to comment on his passing. He said that while Bernard?s death may not come as a shock to many since his health had been deteriorating over the years, it is still a huge loss for the music industry. ?These last couple of weeks have been very traumatic for the music fraternity with the passing of Hopeton Lewis, Sticky, Powda and now Jackie,? he said. ?He will be remembered for his contribution to Jamaica?s music industry and condolences go out to his family and friends.?
Aware of the financial difficulties Bernard faced over the last few years, Campbell is hopeful that the music fraternity can unite to give the singer a good send-off. ?It is a sad situation, and I just hope we can all come together to give any assistance needed.?
The Kingstonians was a rocksteady trio founded in the 1960s by Bernard and his brother, Lloyd ?Footy? Bernard, along with Lloyd Kerr. The group gained popularity between 1968 and 1970, when they signed with producer Derrick Harriott.
Under Jackie Bernard?s leadership, the trio released singles such as Whiney Whiney, Singer Man, Sufferer and Hold Down.