Reggae Singer Gregory Isaacs Dies

 

LONDON -- Gregory Isaacs, one of the leading live reggae acts internationally in the wake of Bob Marley & the Wailers' commercial breakthrough, died Monday, his manager confirmed. He was 59.

The Jamaican singer passed away at his London home following a long battle with illness.

Known as the "Cool Ruler," Isaacs recorded numerous albums for a wide range of Jamaican and U.K. labels, including Virgin's Front Line imprint, for whom he cut 1979's "Cool Ruler," and Pre/Charisma, which released 1980's "Lonely Lover" and 1981's "More Gregory."

He made his recording debut in 1968 but came to fame in the mid-1970s with a string of hits in Jamaica. However, Isaacs' career at that time was hampered by his heavy drug abuse, and record sales rarely reflected the scale of his fame or influence.

Isaacs' biggest commercial hit was his 1982 album "Night Nurse," which was recorded at Marley's Tuff Gong studio and released in the U.K. by Island Records. The album hit No. 32 in the U.K. charts, but Isaacs was initially unable to promote the album as he was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence in Jamaica for possession of unlicensed firearms.

The album's title track was later covered by Sly and Robbie, featuring Simply Red, and reached No. 13 in the U.K. singles chart in 1997.

According to the BBC, Isaacs, who was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, had been traveling around Jamaica before returning to his London home this summer to spend time with his wife, Linda, and his family.

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