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'Pashon' for Sugar

Published:Sunday | September 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Pashon
Sugar Minott
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Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

When roots singer Sugar Minott died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on July 10, fans from Trench Town to Tokyo mourned a dancehall icon. For his daughter, Pashon, who was in California, the news was shattering.

"Him used to ask mi if I would be always there for him. I jus' feel that if my father is taking him last breath I should be there," she told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

Pashon (her real name is Tamar) bears a striking resemblance to her father. Sporting an army-type jacket which partially obscured a Sugar Minott T-shirt, Pashon said she was committed to straightening out the entertainer's business affairs.

"We're in the process of sorting out his catalogue, and we've reached very far with that," she explained.

"Daddy was looking into that, he wanted to make sure that everything was in place."

Minott was a prolific recording artiste in the mould of freelance singers from the 1960s and 1970s. In a 2003 interview, he reckoned he had done over 80 albums, many of which bear the seal of his Youth Promotions company.

Production work

He also produced albums by numerous artistes such as Tenor Saw and Junior Reid which are part of the Youth Promotions catalogue. Seven years ago, Minott admitted he had not properly managed the business side of his career, something his oldest daughter acknowledged last week.

"My father never really looked at the business side of anything. To him it was all about singing," she said.

"I remember promoters running away with his money just because he was on stage too long, and he never made a fuss."

Minott's alleged disregard for paperwork may come back to haunt his family which includes 14 of his children. His wife, music company executive Maxine Stowe, told The Gleaner recently that he died intestate, a statement Pashon refused to respond to.

She did comment on rumours that his famous studio, and home, at Robert Crescent in Kingston may be sold.

"That's something I would fight for. I know Daddy wouldn't want that," she said.

"I was born and raised there; there's a lot of history in that place."

Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott set up Youth Promotions in the Maxfield Park area of Kingston in 1979. He recorded many of his songs there and nurtured the careers of grassroots singers like Tenor Saw, Junior Reid, Tristan Palmer and Little John.

The godfather

His songs, and benevolence, earned him the title, 'godfather of dancehall music'.

After breaking through at Studio One as an underground act in the late 1970s, Minott recorded a series of songs that made him a dancehall giant at home, in the United States, Britain and Japan.

Herbman Hustling, Never Gonna Give Jah Up, Lovers Race and Good Thing Going established him as a major force in the 1980s.

Pashon, the second of his children, said she abandoned a degree course in business administration at the University of the West Indies, to tour as her father's harmony singer. She said the constant roadwork strengthened their relationship.

"Him was mi best friend, I could tell Daddy things wha' I wouldn't tell mi mother," she said.

Minott was not as open when it came on to matters of health. Pashon says she first noticed some physical deterioration last year and spoke to him about it, but Minott insisted he was alright.

Played down illness

Even last May when he was forced to cancel dates in Canada after reportedly suffering chest pains, she said he played down talk of serious illness. It was not until Minott was admitted to the University Hospital in early July that it hit home that he was fighting for his life.

"I was waiting for him in California to do a show and I spoke to him the Saturday and he said he couldn't make it," Pashon recalled.

"I was crying and he said, 'Go represent yuh father'."

She got news of his death when she reached the venue later that day.

Pashon, a mother of two daughters, said she was also keen to revive her own career. She first recorded for her father as an eight-year-old and did 'thousands of songs' for him as Pashon and Fire Pashon.

She has just released a new song, Mek It Inna Life, which is accompanied by a video featuring her and Sugar Minott on stage. Her debut album is almost complete and will see another name change.

"It will be by Pashon Minott, that's what Daddy always wanted," she said.