Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Farewell, John Numerous tributes paid to late singer

Published:Tuesday | October 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
John Holt (left) and Beres Hammond pay their respects to Dennis Brown in song at Brown's 53rd birthday celebrations in downtown Kingston in 2010. File photos
John Holt performing at Fireworks on the Waterfront on December 31, 2010. File
File John Holt performing in 1974.
John Holt in performance.
John Holt (right) sings with Myrna Hague at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, during Simply Myrna 2013.

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

On Sunday night into yesterday, the music industry was again sent into mourning as the news of yet another icon's passing circulated. On Sunday, singer John Holt passed away at the Wellington Hospital, St John's Wood, London. He was 69 years old.

Among the many hit songs in Holt's extensive catalogue are The Tide is High, On the Beach, Wear You to the Ball, Stick By Me, Police in Helicopter, Tribal War (first done by Little Roy), Wildfire (a duet with the late Dennis Brown), If I Were a Carpenter, Ali Baba, and A Love I Can Feel. Perhaps his most famed album is the 1974 1,000 Volts of Holt.

Since news of Holt's death broke on Sunday night, tributes have been pouring in for a man many describe as legendary. Just last month there were rumours circulating on the Internet that the singer had passed, causing a social media frenzy that was only quenched after it was confirmed that Holt was still alive and recovering from surgery at his home in London.

At that time, Teddy Davis, Holt's road manager, told The Gleaner he was hoping for the best, as the singer was recovering. Now, Davis has expressed how shocked he was to hear of the singer's death.

"He was recovering well until a few days ago when we learnt he was in the hospital again," Davis said. "At that time his family, while still hoping for the best, told me to prepare myself for the worst." While stating that Holt will be deeply missed by many worldwide, Davis noted that even in his final weeks Holt wanted everyone to think positively. "He was the type of person that didn't like people to worry, so he often said he was OK when he really wasn't. He will be greatly missed," Davis said.

Copeland Forbes, Holt's manager since 2006, told The Gleaner that when he heard the news via email he was both sad and upset. "I'm upset because I told John to take it easy. I thought it was too early after his operation for him to go back to work, but he kept pushing ," Forbes explained. "I told him there was no need to rush back to work and that he should wait for the healing process to take proper effect, but he said he was all right."

Forbes also made reference to the death rumours which preceded Holt's actual passing, saying that may have also taken a toll on the singer's mental state. "When those rumours started going around and I told John he was a bit upset. We set up a few interviews to set the records straight and to let people know what was really going on," Forbes said.

He revealed that Holt's last performance was at a concert in England on August 17. "John had a voice you couldn't't mistake and it just got better with age," he reminisced. "With so many great musicians lost this year, it is just a sad year for reggae music. What I will miss most is his storytelling abilities. You could sit and listen to John talk for the entire day and his knowledge of the industry was so vast."

Bob Andy, founding member of The Paragons, of which Holt was a part, also expressed sadness at his friend's passing. "He was a soulful guy musically. He wasn't adventurous, but stuck to what he knew. He was the voice of our era. I mean, you have the greats like Bob Marley, Ken Boothe and others, but John Holt was just something else," Andy said.

Remembering when he first met Holt, Andy described him as the perfect fit for the group. "His talent was undeniable and you knew it from the moment you heard him," Andy said. "He knew it too and what I will miss about him was his belief in the future of music and his ability to attract huge crowds at his shows."

Many entertainers have taken to social media to pay their respects to Holt. Among them are Third World, Cherine Anderson, Rootz Underground and Inner Circle.