Reggae singer Gregory Isaacs died at his home in London early Monday following a year-long battle against lung cancer. He was 60.
A prolific recording artist who collaborated with many of the genre’s greatest soul stirrers, Isaacs released more than 500 albums over the course of his nearly four-decade career, which began in 1975. He worked with renowned reggae producers Lee “Scratch” Perry and the recently deceased Sugar Minott throughout the 1970s, and released a collaborative album with popular reggae singer Dennis Brown in 1985. His most recent album, “Brand New Me,” was released in 2008.
Throughout the turbulent ’70s, Isaacs — dubbed “Cool Ruler” — was known as much for his designer suits, cocaine addiction, and scraps with the law as he was for his “lovers rock” songs — such as “Night Nurse,” “All I Have is Love,” “My Only Lover” and “Slave Master.”
Gregory is survived by his wife Linda and their children.
“Gregory was well-loved by everyone, his fans and his family. He worked really hard to make sure he delivered the music they loved and enjoyed,” the teary-eyed widow remarked in a statement issued shortly after the singer’s death.
“I’d say he’s one of the three geniuses I’ve known in the reggae music business, and I’ve known everyone,” Gary Himelfarb — Issacs’ longtime producer — tells The Los Angeles Times. “Gregory was the kind of person who could walk through a room of 20 people and come out the other side and tell you what everybody was wearing. He could sit at a piano and compose incredible tunes. He was really brilliant. He was on a whole other level than your typical Jamaican artist.”