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Stabroek News

Jamaica's musical icon Michael Williams dies
published: Thursday | August 18, 2005


WILLIAMS

PIONEER AND revolutionary reggae musician, Michael Leopold Williams, ('Zappow') 61, passed away last week, August 9, of natural causes.

A founding member of the Zap-pow Band, Mikey Zappow blazed the '70s music scene with smash hits such as Mystic Mood, This is Reggae Music, and Last War, which featured a young Beres Hammond on vocals.

Regarded as a reggae icon, Zappow hailed from rural St. Ann, but frequented the popular tourist town, Ocho Rios in the mid '60s as a member of the Winston Turner & the Untouchables band.

There, he met fellow untouchable band member Dwight Pinkney. The two planned to go to Kingston to create their own band.

"I remember the day Mikey brought a comic to my room, and opened it to the word ZAP-POW," lamented Pinkney, "he loved that word ... it was powerful."

The two realised their dreams by the late '60s creating the infamous Zap-Pow band. At this time, Mikey Zappow boasted a repertoire as vocalist, bassist, drummer, guitarist, composer, arranger, producer, engineer, and later became involved in promotions.

SINGLE

Eventually recruiting Davis Madden and Glen Dacosta, the Zap-pow band released their smash single Mistic Mood in 1970, signalling their arrival as a premier reggae band. Other smash hits included This is reggae music, 1972, Scandal Corner, 1973, Sweet Corn' Love, 1974, and Last War, 1978, with Beres Hammond.

Williams became synonymous with reggae music by the '80s, releasing four vinyl albums under the Zap-pow band, including the Zap-pow Rootsman, - Island Records, and Beres & Mikey (CD) Rhino.

Memorable performances included a show in 1972 with Marvin Gaye/ The Wailers at Carib Theatre, and in 1980 at Sun Splash with Peter Tosh at the Ranny Williams Centre.

Aside from his legacy in music, it is believed that he also created the Reggae Report International Magazine, which was said to have aided in the globalisation of reggae music.

His current ownership of the magazine remains in question.

PROMOTION

A self-taught philosopher, development consultant, and environmentalist, Williams was also highly involved in promotion. He established his second company in 1974, the ShowJam World Festival Company Ltd. showcasing the best of Jamaica's talent in that period.

He was a very creative man who was way ahead of his time, stated a solemn Dwight Pinkney, I deeply regret his passing, and send condolences to his family.

Michael Leopold 'Zappow' Williams, would have celebrated his 62nd birthday yesterday, August 17. He is survived by six children and other relatives.

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