by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Best known for classic lovers rock songs like Night Nurse and Soon Forward, Gregory Isaacs also had a dark side that dogged him for many years. The ‘Cool Ruler’ was addicted to cocaine and spoke openly of how it affected his career and life.
Isaacs died in October, 2010 at age 60, but his wife June Isaacs has maintained the family’s commitment to helping persons hooked on hard drugs. On August 8, she donated funds to Patricia House, a facility in St. Catherine parish, Jamaica, that helps the addicted.
She did not disclose the amount of money presented to Patricia House, which has 16 patients but said it is proceeds from the annual Red Rose For Gregory show. That event was held in Kingston in June, and featured reggae singer Etana and American R&B greats Deniece Williams and The Manhattans.
“It is very important to keep donating to Patricia House. Gregory Isaacs, our patriarch, in his last days warned the youths about the dangers of cocaine use,” said June Isaacs, who started the Gregory Isaacs Foundation in 2011.
She has helped keep her husband’s legacy alive with shows like Red For Gregory which showcases top Jamaican and American acts such as Third World, Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson.
From the gritty west Kingston community of Denham Town, Gregory Isaacs defined reggae’s lovers rock derivative that emerged during the late 1970s. His smooth delivery on songs like All I Have is Love, Tune In and Private Secretary, earned him the moniker, ‘The Cool Ruler’ as well as thousands of fans in the Caribbean, Europe, Japan and North America.
During the 1980s, Isaacs’ career was curtailed by a number of legal problems, mainly drug-related. Despite his problems, he continued to record hit songs in the 1980s including the defiant Rumours and Big All Around (with Dennis Brown).
Gregory Isaacs died from cancer while touring the United Kingdom.