Gloom as 'Squingy' passes

Published: Thursday | November 26, 2009

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

Kevin 'Squingy' Bennett - Contributed

Gloom. That's the word Bass Odyssey's owner Keith Walford used to sum up the mood in the sound system's camp in Alexandria, St Ann, on Tuesday as news of top selector Squingy's death began to soak in.

Squingy, real name Kevin Bennett, died around 4:30 Tuesday morning in Florida, USA, after ailing for an extended period. He was 37.

Already, selectors in St Ann who own motor vehicles, and others, have begun plastering them with memorabilia of the late selector, who for nearly 20 years was the face of Bass Odyssey, St Ann's top sound system.

Joining the sound system at age 17, Squingy quickly became a household name among music lovers in St Ann, his fame as a top selector spreading quickly to other parts of Jamaica.

"He was maybe the first, but definitely one of the first selectors from country to get big, as in those days (early 1990s) it was all about Kingston," said DJ Sly of Trelawny's Sly, Slick and Wicked sound system.

Sly (Steve Gregg) has been a close friend of Walford and his crew for more than two decades.

"Squingy contributed a great deal to sound systems in general and was a great representative for country selectors. He really contributed a lot and will be greatly missed," Sly said in tribute.

Walford said Squingy's death was a blow to the sound system.

Big blow for us

"We expected it (his death) so it's not that hard, but it is still a big blow for us," Walford explained from Squingy's former residence in Alexandria, where he lived for several years after moving from Steer Town.

The body is to be flown home by next week and funeral arrangements are yet to be made. But Walford said Squingy, more than likely, would be buried next to his mother in Steer Town.

There are plans to have a tribute dance before the funeral where top selectors are expected to be in attendance.

Walford, in the meantime, expressed surprise at an article in The STAR last week that spoke to Squingy's debilitating condition while in Florida. While it was known that Squingy had been ailing for some time, Walford said his condition, as mentioned in The STAR, came as a surprise to himself and even to several of Bennett's family members.

"We knew he was ill, but he always goes to Tampa (in Florida) to get treatment," Walford explained.

"He left on November 5 on American Airlines to Tampa, on a connecting flight via Miami. When he left he was in the same condition he was for the past few months wherein he was able to travel alone. After he left there was no communication so the article was a surprise to not only Bass Odyssey, but to his family members here as well. People might be asking how come we didn't do anything, but no one was contacted, we only knew of his deteriorating condition after reading The STAR article."

At the Guinness Sounds of Greatness sound clash in Highgate, St Mary, a few weeks ago, where Bass Odyssey beat Coppershot in a play-off, Squingy's name was called repeatedly.

"Coppershot lucky Squingy nuh deh yah," one man shouted during the heat of the clash.

DJ Squingy (left) and Mark Bartley (right) collecting a trophy for Bass Odyssey in 2005. - Contributed

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