Tribute to Bumps Jackson

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This year has been catastrophic with the deaths of so many of the world’s beloved musicians. This week I received word of yet another. The daughter of Jamaican guitarist Keith “Bumps” Jackson informed me that he passed away on November 7, 2016.

Earlier in the year I had written about Mr. Jackson, (see blog post here) looking for him to write about him for his work with Byron Lee as a member of the Dragonaires and as leader of his own band, Bumps Jackson and the Caps. I was able to locate him after his daughter reached out to me and fortunately I interviewed Mr. Jackson just months before he died so that I preserved his history (in my book on Byron Lee, which is complete and will be available in 2017).

But Bumps Jackson’s contributions in music will always live on, in his music. In the words of his daughter, “My Dad remained a true musician right up to his departing. We learned so much about his music endeavors: played with George Benson, hired as a band director for Patti Labelle, and even asked to play with the Afro-Cuban band Mongo Santa Maria, but always wanted to say true to his reggae roots!”

I share here both some photos of Bumps Jackson that his daughter sent to me, as well as clips to his music where you can celebrate Mr. Jackson’s life by enjoying his talent on guitar, as well as his skill at composing and arranging.

Bumps Jackson–Funky in Jamaica

Bumps Jackson–The Ghetto

bumps1Bumps with guitar in the back, mustache

bumps2Bumps and the Caps. Bumps on far right with guitar.

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Margarita the Rose

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Last week I interviewed the legendary Ferdinand “Bobby” “Little Bra” Gaynair over the phone. From his home, we talked over the course of a few days for a total of six hours and let me say, it was perhaps the best experience of all of my work. I cannot express in words the generosity and warmth in spirit of this gentle man. He and his wife Anne feel like family to me. He is 88 years old and his recollections of his life, from his childhood seeing elephants in the streets of Kingston during a visiting circus, to today, practicing scales on his saxophone, are why I do what I do–to record and share these stories so they are never forgotten. The interview will be featured in my upcoming book on Alpha Boys School. My co-author Adam Reeves and I are nearing completion.

One story Mr. Gaynair shared with me was about Margarita, with whom he was very close. It was ironic that he told me this story the very same week as the death of Rudolph Bent, Margarita’s ex-husband, the boxer, the Dark Destroyer. I was surprised to learn from Mr. Gaynair that Margarita was once his girlfriend. Here he tells the painful story, his voice unable to hide the sorrow still in his heart:

“Don Drummond wanted to kill me. Seriously. His girlfriend was my girlfriend before she became his girlfriend. Yes. Bless her soul, she was a beautiful young lady, and she loved me, because of my profession. Margarita loved me. There was a certain time when I control her hunger. She was so hungry and I had food to give her and then she was comfortable and satisfied and she never forget that. She could do anything with me, and sexually and otherwise I never interfere with her. And I knew I could do anything with Margarita and she would love it, I could even take her life and she’d love me that much that she trusts me. There were men in Jamaica who loved Margarita because she was a great dancer, an excellent dancer. I played the type of music that Margarita love and made her dance and do some marvelous things on stage. She was sexy but when she did those things she was more sexy.

Drummond knew those things and he knew good music and he knew his music was too progressive, mostly jazz. Professionally he plays everything perfect, but apart from music, he was definitely what you call mad now. He was a mad man. But with me, he would interact with me normally because he knows if you are going to talk to me you are going to have to act normal and I don’t show him or tell him that he is crazy, I just deal with him as a normal person. So probably that helped us both to communicate. If it is a sickness or whatever, it could trigger at any time. When all that is finished in the studio and he is by himself, he look at me, and whenever he look at me the jealousy come up. And he really love Margarita. He was really in love with her. But he didn’t realize it wasn’t me alone who love Margarita, it was the whole Jamaica love Margarita.

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After he committed the crime and kill Margarita was in love with another, what do you call it, beauty and the beast? There was another beast who love Margarita and it wasn’t me. Because she told me that this other beast, his name was Bobby, so he thought it was me, and everybody talk about Margarita was with Bobby and they thought it was me, but it wasn’t me, it was another guy who I call beast named Bobby who she was with. I wouldn’t take her sexually, I respect her.

She was a prophet because she told me before I leave Jamaica one day when we were reasoning and she was madly in love and on the brink, she had a rose and she was picking the petals of the rose and she said, ‘Uncle Bobby, Brother Bobby.’ She called me Uncle and Brother. I said, ‘Why are you destroying a beautiful rose, Margarita?’ She said, ‘This is what I’m trying to see, how my lover is going to destroy me, just like I am destroying this rose.’ And I said, ‘What you mean by that? You mean he is going to kill you?’ And she said yeah. I said, ‘What can I say. What can I do to help your situation?’ At that time I was living in the wilderness in my shack and she came to my shack and I was playing a tune for her and Count Ossie was playing the drums, and it was so nice, you could hear it for miles, the drums. This was the greatness in the wilderness. When we play the music, that sound went over the whole city, and goes out in the harbor, and all the fisherman, and boy that music was beautiful. It was a nice time, and a terrible time.