Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tribute to Jackie Opel

Sunday, March 8 marked the 39th anniversary of the death of one of the music legends of Barbados, Dalton Sinclair "Jackie Opel" Bishop.

Even though Jackie Opel died two years before I was born, I grew up listening to his music and was in awe of his stirring lyrics and powerful vocal range. Here was a man who could hold his own with any of the Motown greats, who the legendary Bob Marley credited as the source of his own interest in music, and who was backed by Bob and the Wailers and Peter Tosh on one of his tracks, Mill Man .

Cry Me A River, Eternal Love and Every Word I Say Is True are only a few of the hits that I still enjoy to this day, and it saddens me that such a gifted man is nothing more than a footnote in the history of music in Barbados.

Where is the Jackie Opel museum, the biography of his life, the full length documentary (kudos to CBC TV for their recent half hour tribute), or the movie on his life? Sure, he's credited as being the creator of spouge, but let's be real; despite the claims to the contrary, spouge is dead in Barbados. I guess what they say about a prophet in his own land is true.

Jackie Opel died tragically at the age of 32 in a car accident in Bay Street. His shocking and untimely passing deprived the world of a talent that will live on in the hearts of many, and I'm grateful that he will be forever immortalised through his music.

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