Biting the bullet

Entertainers fall prey to gun violence

Observer writer

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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As the island grapples with gun violence, the local music industry is not immune to this scourge.

Just last year, the parish of St James recorded 335 deaths, most linked to gang violence and the multimillion-dollar lottery scam. The parish has been under a state of emergency since January and has recorded six murders since the start of the year. Several members of the entertainment fraternity, including Tarrus Riley, Shaggy and Bounty Killer, have voiced some solutions for mitigating the crime crisis in recent months.

The Jamaica Observer takes a look at some Jamaican artistes who have been victims of gun violence over the years.

The most recent murder was of deejay Cleon “Corey Mineral Boss” Jones who was was slain in his Caymanas Bay, St Catherine home on December 12. This marked the third murder of an entertainer in less than three months as Maxwell “Gaza Maxwell” Lawson was stabbed on September 25 while at a recording studio in Springfield, St Thomas. Donovan “Unicorn” McMurray was shot in the Crescent Road area of Kingston 11 on November 12.

Just last month, dancehall duo Voicemail released the video for their track World A Dance. The former trio lost member Oneil Edwards on May 26, 2010, when he succumbed to his injuries after being shot two weeks earlier at his Duhaney Park home in St Andrew. The 36-year-old along with members Jerome “Craig” Jackson and Kevin Blair contributed to the group's success through songs like Ready to Party, Just Dance and Let's Dance.

Gully Creepa dancer David “Ice” Smith was gunned down along Newark Avenue, Kingston 11, on December 26, 2008. This came just three years after the murder of dancer Gerald “Bogle” Levy, who was shot at a St Andrew service station on January 20.

David “Black Rat” Bingham was shot about 20 times on July 20, 2002 when gunmen invaded his home in Dumbarton Avenue in St Andrew. Black Rat, who is known for his song Fraud Brand, had earlier survived an attempt on his life.

Deejay Early B, born Earlando Neil, was on a steady high in the 80s until he was gunned down onstage inside the Windsor Cricket Club in Boston on September 11, 1994. Best known for songs like Wheely Wheely and History of Jamaica, he got his start by deejaying for the veteran Killamanjaro sound system alongside apprentice Super Cat.

Nineties dancehall saw an increase in gun lyrics and Anthony “Pan Head” Johnson rode this wave with releases like Gunman Tune and Respect Gunman. By 1993, his sound took a more constructive turn with the release of songs like Under Bondage and African Princess. This new road was short-lived as the 27-year-old was shot that October as he was leaving a dance. Buju's 1993 song Murderer is said to be a tribute to Pan Head.

Also murdered at the age of 27 was brother of Papa San, Patrick “Dirtsman” Thompson. The deejay was gunned down on December 21, 1993 by four assailants on his verandah in Spanish Town. He had recently struck a recording deal with BMG. He is known for songs like Hot This Year and Thank You.

Nitty Gritty, Third World member Mikey Wallace, original Wailer Junior Braithwaite were also victims of gun violence in the 90s.

Former Wailer Peter Tosh met his demise on September 11, 1987 when he was brutally murdered at his Barbican home in St Andrew along with radio disc jockey Jeff 'Free I' Dixon and Wilton Brown. Tosh, 43, was murdered just six years after Marley died from cancer at the age of 36. Dennis “Leppo” Lobban was convicted of the murders and faced a life sentence. Born Winston Hubert McIntosh, the “Stepping Razor” is considered one of reggae's most uninhibited performers and is known for albums like Equal Rights, Mystic Man and Wanted Dread and Alive.

The 80s also saw the murders of Prince Far I, Charlie Ace and Hugh Mundell.

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