Reggae star Gregory Isaacs has died at the age of 59, his manager has confirmed.
The Jamaican singer passed away this morning (Oct. 25) at his London home, following a long battle with illness.
Known as the “Cool Ruler,” Isaacs recorded numerous albums for a wide range of Jamaican and U.K. labels, including Virgin’s Front Line imprint, for whom he cut 1979’s “Cool Ruler” and Pre/Charisma, which released 1980’s “Lonely Lover” and 1981’s “More Gregory.”
He made his recording debut in 1968, but came to fame in the mid-1970s with a string of hits in Jamaica, building on that domestic success to become one of the leading live reggae acts internationally in the wake of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ commercial breakthrough.
However, Isaacs’ career at that time was hampered by his heavy drug abuse, and record sales rarely reflected the scale of his fame or influence. Isaacs’ biggest commercial hit was his 1982 album “Night Nurse,” which was recorded at Marley’s Tuff Gong studio and released in the United Kingdom by Island Records. The album hit No. 32 in the U.K. Charts, but Isaacs was initially unable to promote the album as he was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence in Jamaica for possession of unlicensed firearms that same year.
The album’s title track was later covered by Sly and Robbie, featuring Simply Red, and reached number 13 in the U.K. singles chart in 1997.
According to the BBC, Isaacs, who was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, had been traveling around Jamaica before returning to his London home earlier this summer to spend time with his wife, Linda, and his family.