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Gregory Isaacs dies; reggae singer was best known as "cool ruler"

A full obituary on Mr. Isaacs is here.

Gregory Isaacs, 59, the Jamaican-born reggae singer known as the "cool ruler" for his smooth, romantic singing style, died of lung cancer Oct. 25 at his home in London.

Unlike so-called roots rock singers Bob Marley and Burning Spear, who popularized songs that reflected the rastafarian culture, Mr. Isaacs was best known for his love songs, many of which he wrote.

Nattily-attired with his fedora hats and sports jackets, Mr. Isaacs conveyed a combination of prowess and vulnerability that invited comparisons to American rhythm and blues singers Tyrone Davis and Marvin Gave.

With his seductive baritone, Mr. Isaacs often pleaded for love or begged a lover for understanding.

Writing in the New York Times, music critic Milo Miles called Mr. Isaacs "the most exquisite vocalist in reggae," adding that "his lustful songs are not simple seductions or sexual boasts but sensuous daydreams, escapes from tribulation that invite the listener along."

Please leave your thoughts on "cool ruler" below.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | October 25, 2010; 9:35 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  gregory isaacs; gregory isaacs dies; reggae; cool ruler; jamaica  
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Comments

head on cross the boarder line to mount Zion

Posted by: unknownsouljah | October 25, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

This is sad news. Isaacs will always be "My Number 1." Cool Runnings, my friend.

Posted by: dbeachley | October 25, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Just became acquainted with Mr. Issacs' music via the documentary "Made in Jamaica". A great singer who will be missed. RIP.

Posted by: cfglos | October 25, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

RIP Cool Ruler.

Posted by: CLos10 | October 25, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

That's a shame. He will be missed, but his music lives on.

"Niiiight Nuuuuurrrseee...only you alone can quench dis here thirst..."

Posted by: walkdwalk | October 25, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Go and be with Jah. You will be missed and never forgotten "Cool Ruler".

Posted by: ARessing | October 25, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Sad news. The music will definitely live on. "Night Nurse" is one of my favorite reggae songs. It's timeless.

Posted by: BrooklandReppa | October 25, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Gregory Isaacs had one of those imperfect voices that wouldn't make it past the first round of a singing contest - yet it was a unique, relaxed delivery, and coupled with his songwriting and coolness, he is obligatory for reggae aficionados. RIP.

Posted by: consumer_dave | October 25, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Gregory “The Cooler Ruler” Isaacs will be truly missed for his creative and a heart warming vocal from Love is Over Due” “Write Myself a Letter” Soon Forward” and we can not forget Night Nurse. Mr. Isaacs also displayed a very radical side at times with songs such as “Set the Captives Free” “Universal Tribulation”. We could go on and on communicating the fabulous works of the Cool Ruler. This pioneers contribution to music, not just reggae music is phenomenal. Gregory had the gift of making you want to sway with the ruff bass lines of his music as well as propose to the young lady your dancing with that you only met that night. Gregory rest in peace and I know that there is a great celebration in music heaven as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown welcome you home with the birds up in the trees playing songs of melodies.

Posted by: bbejr2001 | October 25, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Gregory “The Cooler Ruler” Isaacs will be truly missed for his creative and a heart warming vocal from Love is Over Due” “Write Myself a Letter” Soon Forward” and we can not forget Night Nurse. Mr. Isaacs also displayed a very radical side at times with songs such as “Set the Captives Free” “Universal Tribulation”. We could go on and on communicating the fabulous works of the Cool Ruler. This pioneers contribution to music, not just reggae music is phenomenal. Gregory had the gift of making you want to sway with the ruff bass lines of his music as well as propose to the young lady your dancing with that you only met that night. Gregory rest in peace and I know that there is a great celebration in music heaven as Bob Marley and Dennis Brown welcome you home with the birds up in the trees playing songs of melodies.

Posted by: bbejr2001 | October 25, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

fell in love with "Sad Mood Dub" off that dread flimstone collab in the 90's and from there, every old album or track i've heard from him has had substantial relevance to me- excellent music, impeccable mood, flawless delivery,(it's undeniable)truly a gift, BETTER THAN MARLEY

Posted by: jdela | October 25, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for many sweet ballads. From Jimmy Cliff to you my friend;

Many rivers to cross
But I can't seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost
As I travel along the white cliffs of dover

Many rivers to cross
And it's only my will that keeps me alive
I've been licked, washed up for years
And I merely survive because of my pride

And this loneliness won't leave me alone
It's such a drag to be on your own
My woman left me and she didn't say why
Well, I guess I'll have to cry

Many rivers to cross
But just where to begin I'm playing for time
There have been times I find myself
Thinking of committing some dreadful crime

Yes, I've got many rivers to cross
But I can't seem to find my way over
Wandering, I am lost
As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover

Yes, I've got many rivers to cross
And I merely survive because of my will...


...Thank you Gregory Isaacs for many years of lovely music. (especially your collaboration with Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare: "Slave Driver")

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 25, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

so sad to hear of this terrible news. RIP ...your music will be played for years to come,generation after generation. He had the type of albums you can just listen to song after song..they are all good...

Posted by: luvdarasta | October 25, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

very sad & unfortunate news. We will be playing his music all night long this Friday, for those literally in DC and wanting to celebrate that unique voice and vibe of his (the Soundclash monthly Jamaican oldies night at Marx Cafe).

Posted by: dcsoundclash | October 25, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

His music brings back such memories... May he rest in peace.

Posted by: Ynjo | October 25, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

It is with sadness that I learn of the passing of Gregory Isaacs. His music is timeless and will be with us for many generations to come! Thank you Mr. Isaacs for leaving us with something we can all treasure.

Posted by: jewelharris | October 26, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

i saw him 3 times in concert, kinda grew up with his music...he had songs like..lonely soldier,love is overdue,mr.cop story book children,top ten, soon forward,rumours,bits and pieces,slave master,dealing,things that i lost,no way to treat a lady...these are truly some of my favourites...they now become even more special...ONE LOVE BRETHEREN.

Posted by: normantaylor57 | October 26, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

The world has lost another legend and more importantly, a great and beautiful man. I spoke with and met him personally almost 20 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. I was touched by both the music and the man himself. Gregory was far from perfect but the man's heart was gold. I will never forget him, his music will always play in my gates! Much love & respect. Condolences to the family. Gregory Isaacs lives thru the music he loved.

Posted by: RasPhil | October 28, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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