Death of Tamboura Leads to Calls for Re-union of GI’s Brass

Tamboura died in hospital on Saturday 26th January, 2013, following a period illness. His birth name was Fitzroy Christian Matthew.

The well know musician was best known for his membership in the GI’s Brass, where he served as a vocalist and the backbone of the group’s rhythm section, dating back to the early 1970s until the band imploded around 1978/79. He was also a member of earlier groups such as Grand Ash Two and the Silver Rhythm Combo.

One of the songs he was best known for, was “Babylon a Chase I”; a reggae song that spoke to some of the challenges confronting Rastafarians in the 1970s and 1980s. Here is the first verse and chorus:

Running from the day I was born

And I can’t find a place to go

Worshipping the heathen God

And I can’t seem to understand Jah

I say since I’ve been born, I am running

Oh yeah, running from what and to whom

And the crazy way, of how life have been going

Say I might not be free till I’m through

 

Say they got me running, really, really running

I say Babylon won’t give I a chance

They took away I culture, rob I of I wealth,

So Jah shall lick them and burn them for I

 

Jerry Mopstick, as he was called before adopting the name Tamboura, became one of the first musicians of his time to embrace the Rastafarian faith, which was sweeping the Caribbean, as part of an African cultural renaissance.

In his later years, following his exit from the various bands with which he played, Tamboura joined the Ministry of Culture in St. Kitts, and quickly gained new honour as the voice and researcher behind the much loved radio program, “Under Banyan Tree”. This was a program that highlighted the contributions of Kittitians and Nevisians of African ancestry who have made significant input in the development of the island in various fields of endeavour. The radio broadcast also educated Kittitians about important historical events and places on the island.

The death of Tamboura will therefore leave a void in the struggle to educate Afro Kittitians especially about themselves. But his journey to the great beyond will equally create a void in the music industry. Mopstick will be remembered not only for his melodious voice and reggae selections packed with conscious lyrics, but also his powerful command of the rhythm section and his abilities as a drummer.

With this silence, has come a chorus of calls for Ellie Matt & the GI’s Brass to perform one last time in a major concert, with the re-union of the top original members, including Ellie Matt, who himself has not been in the most perfect health in recent years. Tamboura is the first of that once popular group to have died and fans are hoping to see their former superstars on stage again, for that a command performance.

Since his passing, tributes have been pouring from fans throughout the world, as they remember his contributions to the music industry.

No plans have been disclosed to date regarding the funeral arrangements for Tamboura.

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