Arrow, whose real name is Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell, died on Wednesday morning at the Mount St. John’s Hospital, in Antigua, where he was flown last Tuesday, (7 September), after his condition deteriorated while a patient in a Montserrat hospital.
In 2009, Arrow was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to be treated at medical facilities in Miami. According to his brother, a fellow calypsonian, Justin “Mighty Hero” Cassell, Arrow was fighting with a bout of pneumonia last week when the decision was made to fly him to Antigua, after family members held a vigil, to pray and reflect on his life.
Justin reported that Arrow was very conscious and was able to speak, while at the hospital, but he was not as strong as he had been up to two weeks ago, when he showed promising signs. Justin said that though the situation was grave, his brother was not in pain.
Justin told friends that, the worsening condition of his brother was triggered by the pneumonia. He explained that they were trying to stem the effects of the pneumonia because it was causing considerable weakness.
At the time of his hospitalization in Antigua, said Justin, Arrow was very conscious and he knew everybody and he was able to speak. He was under the care of Doctor Prince Ramsey and Mr. Ian Thomas.
Arrow, who received an MBE award for his contribution to the development of Montserrat, first performed at the Montserrat Secondary School, when he was at the tender age of 10. He started his career as an entertainer by singing calypso in 1967, when he entered and won his island’s Junior Monarch Calypso Competition. Two years later in 1969, at the age of 15, Arrow took the bold decision, (following in the footsteps of his older brother and former calypso king, Justin Cassell, Mighty Hero,), to enter the Senior Monarch Competition. He was runner up, in that contest.
He only had to wait until the following year to capture the main prize and be crowned Calypso King. He would go on to win the title on four occasions.
By 1972, Arrow was able to record the first of his 21 career albums, titled, “Dance with Me, Woman”. The following year, in 1973, the ambitious youngster established his owned record label, “Arrow”.
He will be remembered for his unique style of calypso. On many occasions he proved his abilities when he fused calypso with other genres, including Zouk, Salsa and R&B. Though he was criticized in some quarters for what they considered was a prostitution of the purity of calypso, he won many new fans and helped to attract a younger audience to calypso.
His hard work to create a new calypso sound paid off in 1982, when he produced what has now become the national anthem of soca and the most popular calypso ever known to man, Hot, Hot, Hot. This became the biggest selling calypso of all times and it is a song that has been performed by hundreds of other artistes in numerous languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Spanish and French.
It was adopted as the theme song for the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. Hot Hot Hot has also been used on the sound track of countless movies and television programs, including news segments in the United States.
It is the number one soca song that tourists to the Caribbean would request whenever vacationing in the region.
When the ICC Cricket World Cup came to the Caribbean in 2007, Arrow was one of the headliners, along with Shaggy and Byron Lee, who performed at the opening ceremony in Jamaica.
Back in Montserrat, Arrow had also established himself as a businessman in the then capital, Plymouth, but when the volcano erupted and destroyed the town, he relocated his enterprise to Salem.
In 1996 when the Ministry of Tourism in St. Kitts decided to launch its music festival, Arrow was one of the first acts that was contracted to perform. He was again invited when for the tenth anniversary of the festival. In addition, he performed in both St. Kitts and Nevis numerous times, during concerts organized by various local promoters.
Radio stations throughout the Caribbean and North America interrupted their regular schedule to pay tribute to the Mighty Arrow. Thousands of fans, fellow calypsonians, politicians and celebrities dedicated some of their time on Wednesday to send their tributes to Arrow, during the many radio programs that also featured his music, from the 1970s to the present.
There were those who broke down in tears as they reflected on this great Caribbean icon.
Arrow was born on November 16, 1954. He will be sadly missed by fans in St. Kitts and Nevis and the entire world, especially the West Indian communities in North America and England