Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Farewell Alerth

The passing of Alerth Rockford Bedasse on March 5, 2007 marked the end of a chapter in Jamaica's great musical heritage. Alerth fell ill at his home in Harbour View, East Kingston, while preparing a meal in his kitchen and was taken to the Kingston Public Hospital where he eventually died.
Those who came out of the 1950s will remember the golden years of the foundation music known as the Mento/Calypso, the island's first recorded indigenous music form. Alerth Bedasse, in tandem with the prolific writer, the late Everard Williams and backed by the Chin's Calypso Sextet recorded some of the most popular songs of the time. In fact, there is presently a resurgence of the Mento/Calypso as a new generation is getting to appreciate the music, due mainly to the reissuing of the Ivan Chin owned Chin's Calypso Sextet Catalogue. Classics numbers such as `Big Boy & Teacher`, `Guzoo Doctor`, `Red Tomato`,`Monkey's Opinion`, and the highly controversial `Night Food` are now a regular part of play sheets on radio stations in Jamaica and abroad.
Alerth was born in May Kraal, Clarendon on February 21, 1928 and started playing the guitar at events such as weddings and parties while in his mid teen. In 1949 he moved to Kingston and settled in the culturally rich section of the city known as the West End, and it was not long before he was introduced to Everard Williams who needed a partner. The two teamed and in the process succeeded the famous street singing pair known as Slim & Sam. They traversed the entire island singing and selling music tracts until they went into the recording studio to record `Night Food`, reputed to be one of the biggest ever selling record in Jamaica. By 1958 the music changed and Bedasse went into business administration, working as an accountant at the National Workers Union (NWU) until the time of his death.
The Webster Memorial United Church overflowed with mourners paying their last respect to the great man on Saturday, March 17. Interestingly, the majority of the mourners were from the NWU and its affiliates while the music fraternity had few from that sector. Noticeable from the music fraternity were Kingsley Goodison (King Omar Promotions), Colin Leslie, Roy Black, Herbie Miller and Daniel Neely who travelled from New York. Internment took place at his family plot at Mount Hindmost, Pennants in Clarendon.
Thanks to Alerth there are taped and printed interviews to be made available. The DVD series, `The Mento Pioneer`, and a cover feature in the `Vintage Boss Magazine`, along with additional features in the `Vintage Boss` special series, The Mento Pioneers Pt. 1&2
Rest Well Alerth.
Vintage Boss.
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chandra said...

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