U-Roy’s farewell set for May 19

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor

VETERAN toaster U-Roy is scheduled to be interred in Dovecot Memorial Park and Crematory in St Catherine on Wednesday, May 19, according to partner Marcia Smikle.

The funeral is slated for a 1:00 pm start time.

“Even though we’re saddened by his loss, we are relieved to know he will finally be laid to rest,” Smikle told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “I’m at the funeral home dealing with it right now.”

All the funeral arrangements are being handled by Perry’s Funeral Home in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and a viewing is planned for Monday, May 17 at the same location.

The final rites for the music veteran was initially planned for March 25, and the occasion was to include a public viewing at the National Arena in Kingston, followed by a private viewing for family, and then the interment. However, these plans were scrapped when Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced increased restrictions, including a ban on burials, in light of a spike in the number of infections as a result of COVID-19.

The restrictions have been relaxed somewhat since April 14. This has allowed for the recommencement of burials on condition that attendees are limited to 10 people and the ceremony be no longer than 30 minutes. These burials are also only permitted to take place on weekdays.

Despite these relaxations though, the recent imposition of stricter curfew hours for the last seven weekends has disrupted what would otherwise be days reserved for burials in pre-COVID-19 times. For the past several weekends the curfew hours have varied from noon on Saturday and no movement on Sunday, to 2:00 pm on Saturday and 12 noon on Sunday. This coming weekend the curfew lasts from 6:00 pm on Saturday to 5:00 am on Sunday; then 2:00 pm on Sunday to 5:00 am on Monday.

U-Roy, whose given name is Ewart Beckford, died of diabetes and hypertension-related complications at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew on February 17. He was 79.

U Roy is one of dancehall’s most influential figures. He started his career in the 1960s on sound systems and hit the charts in the early 1970s as a toaster on popular hit songs like Wake The Town, Wear You to The Ball (alongside John Holt), and Tom Drunk (with Hopeton Lewis).

As founder of Stur Gav, he exposed aspiring talent including Josey Wales, Charlie Chaplin, Frankie Paul, Tenor Saw and Early B.

At the time of his death his long-time friend and fellow music industry legend Lloyd “King Jammys” James referred to him as an original, and noted that this would be his legacy.

“U-Roy originate something that lasts, and now that he is gone it is something that we are going to talk about for years to come,” James noted.

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