'Thank you, Gregory' Fans say goodbye to 'The Cool Ruler'
Hasani Walters, Gleaner Writer
In a grand celebratory mood, young and old alike turned up at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Thursday night to celebrate the life of reggae icon, 'The Cool Ruler', Gregory Isaacs.
However, less than 24 hours later, the party-like vibe of fans, family, and friends of the reggae singer were overtaken by gloom. Isaacs' body was now lying in state at the National Indoor Sports Centre for public viewing and tears flowed down cheeks of many who lined up to get a last glimpse.
The sadness of the occasion, however, did not overshadow the memory of Isaacs as those who turned up to say goodbye wanted to talk about The Cool Ruler.
A female who seemed to have had a close relationship with the singer was heard saying: "A him school mi right through. A him use to gi mi lunch money right throughout school. Mi caan believe him gone."
"That man deh nuh dead. Him caan dead; a simply sleep him a sleep," a young man said while others around him consoled weeping females in stark contrast to Thursday night.
Then, patrons who crammed into the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre endured a brief waiting period before foundation artiste Bunny Wailer made his entrance to the stage chanting: "Say I hear the voice of a Rastaman, say, Babylon, yuh throne gone down."
He was greeted with cheers, applause, and whoops from the large crowd as he went into a few lines of Simmer Down, while ska-ing across the stage to the patrons' delight as they, too, were soon dancing in their seats.
Deejay Flowergan, who cancelled his birthday celebration in Whitehall, St Andrew, to be part of the night's celebrations, was also in a dancing mood. He delivered songs such as Bounce, and was later joined onstage by Lizard.
With lyrics from one of Isaacs' songs written in the palm of her hand, Queen Ifrica rocked the stage with numbers such as Lioness on The Rise and Below The Waist. George Nooks followed suit as he had the crowd waving hands from side to side to God Is Standing By.
With the lyrics of Zungguzung-guguzungguzeng, the audience went into in a frenzy as Yellowman went onstage. He requested five seconds of silence for Isaacs before going into Blueberry Hill to screams from the ladies.
Beres Hammond managed to outdo him as he sang hits such as Putting Up A Resistance, Rockaway, and One Step Ahead.
The young acts of dancehall and reggae were not to be left out as they were also on hand to represent The Cool Ruler. Artistes such as Khago, Nesbeth, Bescenta, Richie Loops, and Fambo all did short sets, sending their respects to Isaacs.
Isaacs will be buried today at Dovecot Memorial Park following a funeral service at the National Indoor Sports Centre. The service starts at 10 a.m.