Tune in to the Cool Ruler’s life story
Educator and journalist collaborates with Gregory Isaacs’ widow for biography
Twelve years after he succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 60 while in London, a book about the life of international recording artiste and songwriter Gregory ‘Cool Ruler’ Isaacs is in the making and should hit the shelves by January 2023.
Educator and journalist Peter Pryce, a long-time admirer of Isaacs, has been collaborating with his widow, June Wyndham Isaacs, as well as some of the musicians who worked with the artiste and others who knew him for this biography.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner about the project and her late husband, Wyndham Isaacs shed light on the devoted father, dedicated spouse, and humanitarian, who cared about and supported the less fortunate, and won her heart. A strict adherent to the Seventh-Day Adventist faith, this graduate of the Shortwood Teachers’ College and native of Fruitful Vale, Portland, would also follow her late husband in embracing Rastafarianism.
She would go on to endure with him trials and tribulations and Nicodemus visits to their home by many members of Jamaica’s entertainment fraternity to satisfy their drug addictions, which was also a regular feature of the Isaacses’ lifestyles.
While Isaacs’ addiction to cocaine, which negatively affected his health, family, marriage, income, and career, is well documented, through this book, Wyndham Isaacs hopes to shed new light on the incredible relationship with his children, steadfast love for his mother and aunt, and devotion to her.
“He was a very good dad, provided well, and was a hands-on dad. Homework was a must, and during the week, no TV. He was strict like that,” June recounted recently. She added that he spent quality time with them cooking, telling them stories, and getting them to teach him the latest dance moves.
“He was a dad, a superdad. Bad habits like smoking, him would a sit them down and say, ‘no’. Him woulda sit them down and say this a fi mi, unnu nuh get involved inna dis. Me ras fi so much years and me not even roll a spliff. He never tried to get me involved or to follow him. So me still affi say kudos to him.”
Among the stories that will be unveiled by Pryce are their kidnapping by a Brazilian cartel at the height of the entertainer’s career and the brutal beating they suffered at the hands of local cops.
The memory of his beating, which left Gregory’s fingers so swollen that he could not use his hands, is still fresh for Wyndham Isaacs. However, it cannot eclipse the thrilling roller coaster ride that was theirs and which started even before they married in 1983 until his death on October 25, 2010.
All this and a lot more is revealed in The Cool Ruler: Message, Missteps and Mastery of a Musical Maestro, including the fact that the man who was known for his signature easygoing stage performance always had a copy of a Mills and Boon romance novel in his back pocket. Isaacs drew inspiration for his music from personal life experiences and those around him, and the youngster from Fletcher’s Land in downtown Kingston would parlay that into superstardom, connecting with people from all walks of life from all over the globe.
Born on July 15, 1950, Isaacs died on October 25, 2010. He was accorded an official funeral and conferred with the Order of Distinction in 2016.