Reggae Legend Gregory Isaacs, Dead at 59

By Greg Wilson
|  Monday, Oct 25, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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Gregory Isaacs, the reggae star whose smooth voice made him a fixture on the charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, died of lung cancer.

Isaacs peaked with the landmark 1982 "Night Nurse" album, but later fell into a spiral of drugs and poor health. He died at his  home in London, the BBC reported. Known by fans as "The Cool Ruler," Isaacs was 59.

"Gregory was well loved by everyone, his fans and his family, and he worked really hard to make sure he delivered the music they loved and enjoyed," Isaacs' wife Linda said. "He will be greatly missed by his family and friends."

Over the course of his prolific career, Isaacs released an estimated 500 albums within Jamaica, the UK and the U.S. He collaborated with reggae, dub and dancehall icons like Lee "Scratch" Perry, King Tubby, Sugar Minott, Freddie McGregor, Dennis Brown and Errol Holt. Isaacs recorded his masterpiece Night Nurse at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Studios in 1982, the year after Marley's death.

Isaacs was on the brink of international stardom when Night Nurse climbed to No.2 on the British charts. But his ascent was interrupted by a six-month stint in a Jamaican prison on illegal firearm charges. It was one of an estimated 50 times he was arrested during his lifetime.

Selected Reading

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Rolling Stone

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BBC

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MSNBC

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