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'Lager' joins 'The Greats'

Published:Saturday | July 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM
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Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer


To many old-timers in Boys' Town, Neville 'Lager' Reid is best known as a hard-hitting opening batsman who represented that community in the Senior Cup cricket competition during the 1960s and 1970s.

But party-goers also remember him as a dance promoter who staged countless gigs throughout Kingston. Reid, now 64 years old, will be honoured July 31 for his contribution to grassroots entertainment by King Omar Promotions, at its annual Tribute To The Greats show at Curphey Place.

Ironically, Reid and the Soul Shack sound system operated by Bunny Goodison, played at Curphey Place on several occasions.

Now living in New York City, Reid said he kept his first dance in 1964, shortly after making his Senior Cup debut.

"It was at Weymouth Drive, it turned out so well that I kept on keeping dances," Reid told The Gleaner from his home in The Bronx.

He said dances in his day were largely incident-free.

"It wasn't like today, people who went to dances were music lovers. You didn't even have security at the gate," he recalled.

Through his sports connection, Reid and Soul Shack played at venues such as the Chinese Athletic Club (now Melbourne Cricket Club) and the Wembley Cricket Club in central Kingston.

Although he grew up at Fourth Street in Trench Town hearing about the exploits of Boys' Town heroes like Jamaica and West Indies allrounder Collie Smith, Reid said his neighbours also included musicians such as the Wailers, Alton Ellis, the Ffolkes Brothers (of Oh Carolina fame) and Lascelles Perkins.

"I would see them rehearsing all the time in the area. Those were good times," he said.

For most of his cricketing career, Reid formed a solid opening partnership for Boys' Town with Leroy 'Gabby' Shaw. Some of his other teammates included spin bowlers Leonard Levy, Linden Wright and Lloyd 'Respic' Morgan.

Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, singer Tony Gregory, Herman Sang of the Jiving Juniors doo-wop group, journalist Julian 'Jingles' Reynolds and Gladstone Parker of the Wild Bunch Disco are the other honourees for this year's Tribute To The Greats.

The event, which is the brainchild of Kingsley 'King Omar' Goodison, was first held in 1998. It has recognised the achievements of many Jamaican music pioneers, including former prime minister Edward Seaga, Byron Lee, Clement 'Coxson' Dodd, Theophilus Beckford and Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott.