Sun | Jan 19, 2020

Cool Ruler's drug campaign off and running

Published:Thursday | October 27, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Gregory Isaacs
Gregory Isaacs
An artist's representation of the headstone which was laid at grave site of the late recording artiste, Gregory Isaacs, during a service to mark the 61st anniversary of his birth, earlier this year. - Contributed
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  • Widow points to spike in Gregory Isaacs' music sales
  • Week of charitable activities to celebrate artiste's life continues

Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer

KNOWN as the 'Cool Ruler' for his unrushed delivery and unique style, an even cooler side of Gregory Isaacs was made public on Tuesday, the first anniversary of the celebrated reggae singer's death, when it was announced that part proceeds of his latest album would go to his two favourite charities.

Gregory Isaacs, The African Museum and Tads Collection, Volume Two, had a soft launch at Tads International, Trade Centre, Red Hills Road, St Andrew.

Part earnings from the double CD will go to The Gregory Isaacs Foundation, which has the Walker's Place of Safety, Black Harmony Basic School and St Barnabas Basic School as its main beneficiaries.

Reason for foundation

The Gregory Isaacs Foundation was launched on July 15, the Cool Ruler's birthday, to continue supporting causes he had assisted throughout his life.

"He always said every pickney a him 'god-pickney'. Once a pickney, he will give," said June Isaacs, Gregory's wife of 27 years, who, although she had no children for the reggae great, was a mother to the 12 he fathered.

"He had a soft spot in his heart for kids," June added.

She described Gregory Isaacs, The African Museum and Tads Collection, Volume Two, as having "most of the hits with a little different mix".

"It's a double CD with 41 tracks, songs such as Soon Forward, Front Door, All I Have is Love, One Man Against the World and, of course, his signature Island Records 1982 hit, Night Nurse, June told Entertainment, adding that she expects strong sales for the album, especially with the charitable cause as a consideration.

"Contributing to the foundation, I know people will support it because they know where it's going. So the sky's the limit for the album. We want to have a lot of money in the kitty for these charities," she pointed out.

St Barnabas Basic School, "his first school," June said, in Fletcher's Land, downtown Kingston, on Tuesday received donations of toilets and face basins from the foundation.

"Before the weekend, we will be visiting Black Harmony Basic in St Catherine and the Walker's Place of Safety to donate foodstuff, clothing, school and first-aid supplies," she said, adding, "we will always acknowledge his birthday and transition day. Each year we will try to build on the foundation, adding new institutions that are kids-based".

No musical tribute

Although there will be no musical tribute in what June said will be a week of activities to mark the "transition" of the artiste, who had more than 500 albums and four Grammy nominations to his credit, an important event was held on Tuesday, warning against Gregory's biggest demon - drug addiction.

"We started a 'No to Drugs' campaign at his home at Sunrise Crescent," said June, who has admitted many struggles with Gregory and his cocaine addiction.

"We all know Gregory had his challenges with drugs, but he wouldn't encourage or introduce it to anyone. He was very firm on that," she said.

"We took a clip from an interview he did a couple years back in which he was basically appealing to youths not to use drugs. His exact words were, 'Do not use drugs, and leave the guns too'."

Isaacs had said of his addiction in 2007: "Drugs are a debasing weapon. It was the greatest college ever, but the most expensive school fee ever paid - the Cocaine High School. I learnt everything, and now I've put it on the side."

Gregory always made sure the business side of his music was well taken care of ever since he started the African Museum record label and shop with Errol Dunkley in 1973.

June said, although he did not leave a will, when he realised he was losing his battle with lung cancer, Gregory turned over distribution of his music to Tads.

Securing legacy

June, who wed Gregory in 1983, now works closely with that company in ensuring the late singer's music business and legacy is being taken care of.

"From about three years ago, Tads has been doing all the distribution," she said. "The relationship goes as far back as the early '80s. When he became sick two years back, Tads has been the one in control of most of the stuff; Gregory put them in charge of the African Museum products so they distribute. I basically work alongside Tads," she explained.

Similar to other great singers whose works grow astronomically in demand after their deaths, 'di more dem get it, a di more dem want it', Gregory would have crooned.

"Sales have spiked," said June. "The Night Nurse album, every, and all Gregory. From it's Gregory, it sells, said June, noting that Gregory Isaacs, The African Museum and Tads Collection, Volume Two is already available on iTunes and "should be in all record stores this week".

As for the claims of another 'Mrs Isaacs' - Linda Smith, who said she and Gregory had tied the knot in England in July 2010, three months before his death - 51-year-old June, who was separated from Gregory before he died, was dismissive.

"Gregory was only married once, so that makes it one widow, so that is that. There was never another marriage," she said.

Gregory lost his battle with lung cancer at age 59 in London while living at Smith's house.