Updated: May 13, 2020
There is a certain and authentic thrill you get when you meet a celebrity in person. Well, I have had the pleasure of meeting a few Jamaican artists in person. Some were actors like the late great Judith Thompson famously known as Mrs. Upton in the Jamaican television Drama: Lime Tree Lane.
I later went on to meet Audrey Reid on one of my birthdays. She was the star of a Jamaican movie, DanceHall Queen. Later I would meet Oliver Samuels, The King of Jamaican comedy, Byron Lee himself from Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, Luciano, Nadine Sutherland, Adijah Palmer (Better known as Vybz Kartel), Rodney Price (Bounty Killa). Unbelievably, but quite understandable, I met all those artists on flights! Wow! This list is getting very long!
I also met Ninjaman (Desmond Balentine) at a hotel I was working. I am not including the long line-up of artists on stage shows I have been to. because that would not count as a meeting.
Someone pointed out Eddi Fitzroy to me one day in the Spanish Town Shopping centre, in Saint Catherine Jamaica. He was a Math Teacher from what I recall but it is not until I was researching music for the station that I came to realize the clever play he made on his name. Here’s what I found:
Early lifeEdwards was born on 17 November 1955 in Chapelton, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, and attended Chapelton All-Age and Clarendon College. He was exposed to music from an early age via his father Vasco Edwards playing records for a sound system. After studying accounting at the West Indies Commercial Institute, he took a job as an accounts clerk with the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation while also singing in his spare time. His recordings came to the attention of Mikey Dread, a radio presenter at the station, and with Dread's assistance, he released his first single, "Miss Molly Colly", which was a top ten hit in Jamaica in 1978. Further hits followed and Fitzroy toured the United Kingdom with Dread in 1978, supporting The Clash.Career
In the early 1980s, Fitzroy worked with producers such as Lloyd Norris, and Trevor Elliot (who produced the singer's debut album Youthman Penitentiary (1982)). Check For You Once (1982) topped the Jamaican albums chart for four weeks. He performed at Reggae Sunsplash in 1984, returning in 1986, 1988, 1991, and 1993, and also performed at Sunsplash USA in 1988.
Fitzroy's lyrics led to him becoming renowned as one of Jamaica's most socially conscious singers, with themes including equality for women, and he won a Rockers Award in 1984 for Most Conscious Performer for his "Princess Black" single that celebrates black women (which he wrote for his mother). He enjoyed a major Jamaican hit with "The Gun", and he contributed to the "Land of Africa" charity single in aid of the Ethiopia famine appeal, along with Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor and others, and Fitzroy became a director (along with Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Michael "Ibo" Cooper, and Orville Tyson) of the Music Is Life organization, to make a more lasting contribution toward's Africa's plight.
After the release of his 1993 album Deep in Mi Culture, Fitzroy toured the United States with backing band Massawa. In the mid-1990s he started his Confidence label to release his material. He has been a regular performer at annual Peter Tosh memorial concerts in Jamaica. Only in the mid-1990s did he give up his day job to pursue music as a full-time career.
Although much of Fitzroy's work had been in an era when slack lyrics and digital rhythms have predominated, in the 1998 book Reggae Island he spelt out his preference for real musicians and "reality" lyrics:
I personally like the acoustic sound, which is, go in the studio and lay the tracks with your drummer and your bass player and, you know, support, percussionists. I personally as an artist still ... just paint it right within the people's minds, you know, to really tell them things, what is really happening, the realistic sense of life, seen?
Personal life and death
Sadly, today, March 3, 2020, is when I realized the great man passed on.