Gregory Issacs Dies Of Cancer

A woman listening to music on the floor( — Reggae legend Gregory Isaacs was called the “Cool Ruler” for good reason. During the 1970s and 1980s, with a crooning style that evoked images of slow grinding with a pretty girl on a smoky dance floor, Isaacs carved out his own chapter in reggae music history. The musical ambassador behind hits like “Night Nurse” passed away at his home in London early Monday following a year-long battle against lung cancer. He was 60.

At the height of his career, which kicked off with the release of his debut album in 1975, Isaacs was as well known for his brushes with law and his crippling addiction to cocaine as he was for his classic love songs. He recorded over 50 albums in four decades, including his latest Brand New Me, released in 2008.

Bob Marley may have been more popular, and Burning Spear may have been more true to the roots, but no reggae legend has ever been cooler than Issac, who penned his classic song “Night Nurse” in 1982. Starting out in the wild-west days of Jamaican record-making, where little respect was paid to the concept of copyrights and the same album could be released under different names in different countries, Isaacs has been credited with releasing more that 500 albums in Jamaica, England and the United States.

Issacs worked extensively with dub legends Lee “Scratch” Perry and King Tubby, but the “lovers rock” style of music is where Isaacs made his legend. “Night Nurse” hit the charts just after Bob Marley died of cancer, and many reggae writers, obsessed with the impossible question of who would replace Marley as reggae’s international ambassador, pointed to Isaacs as the rightful ruler to Marley’s empty throne.

It wasn’t to be.

Isaacs never produced another record to match “Night Nurse” and got busted for firearm and drug possession on multiple occasions. While still popular, Issacs career seemed to lose steam through the late 90s and in to the new century. Some reviewers might look at the career of Isaacs as solid but a case of unfulfilled potential.

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