Gregory Isaacs, the late '70s and '80s Reggae legend known as "The Cool Ruler," died of lung cancer at 59, the BBC reported. Isaacs released an estimated 500 albums, including his landmark 1982 "Night Nurse" record.
Isaacs, 59, lost his battle with lung cancer at his home in London, according to a press release by VP Records. Isaacs’ velvet, silky smooth baritone voice earned him the nickname Cool Ruler and gave fans soulful and romantic music for more than 40 years.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Isaacs began his music career competing in talent contests and a short stint with the reggae group the Concords in 1968. Isaacs recorded the album Night Nurse in 1982, and the title song garnered him international recognition, with the song becoming a DJ favorite.
In the same year, Isaacs was jailed for six months in Kingston for gun possession and drug dealings, halting a promising music career. Admitting to having a crack cocaine addiction, Isaacs' voice suffered immensely, due to his teeth falling out and word slurring. Trading his dreadlocks in for a fedora and slacks, Isaacs cleaned up his appearance and entered a drug rehab program.
The hit song “Rumours” paved Isaacs’ way back into the music spotlight. Isaacs toured constantly in the 2000s, making sure his fans remembered his music, and they did. Isaacs has performed at Tribute to the Reggae Legends in San Diego more than three times, and was a favorite of local reggae fans, who saw him perform in June at Sound Wave. His last album, Brand New Me, was well received by critics and was released in 2008.
Isaacs’ music is smooth, sexually teasing and passionate -- only a person full of love can write ballads so meaningful. Cool Ruler will be missed, but his music will never be forgotten. As I write this story, Gregory Isaacs is trending No. 4 worldwide on Twitter.
Rest in Peace, Gregory.