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IRIE Jamboree Exec Louie Grant Mourns Death Of Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson

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Shades away from the midday hour on Tuesday, September 1, 2009, I regrettably learned of the passing of the legendary Mr. Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson of Studio 2000, Steely & Clevie fame.  Steely died at the Brookhaven Hospital here in Long Island, New York after being a patient there almost since he arrived in New York earlier this summer.  Steely was in New York on a special invitation, to attend along with others of a select group of industry movers, a listening session for the Lava Connection band -  a new and upcoming musical force that have already been booked for international staging events including New York’s Irie Jamboree.
Steely’s untimely departure has therefore hit close to home for industry personnel here in New York.  His brave and hard fought battle with kidney failure and consequently pneumonia is evidence of the resilient, unwavering spirit which characterized his approach to life and his musical works in general.  This loss will no doubt leave an undeniable void in the hearts of reggae and dancehall industry stakeholders and well wishers worldwide. 
A seeming paradox, this always jovial, cheerful, “life of the party type” personality was extremely businesslike, serious and a focused soul during his creative compositions and other music sessions.  Steely truly was a unique character with a well intended big heart, which always maintained the best interest for forward progress of our beloved music at its core.  The dancehall genre has been ably advanced because of musicians like Steely & Clevie. 
I will forever hold dear to memory a kind invitation from Steely to me to listen to his now classic “Street Sweeper” Rhythm while still a work in progress…  a gesture which I later found out was most uncharacteristic.  Often I recall images of just  how animated and involved he was, and it appeared as if he could feel every string, wind, percussion, all the components of the total package.   At the time he shared many interesting stories and anecdotes of his own formative years in the business with the group of us present. This particular project virtually introduced and even re-launched the careers of several artistes, while boasting several chart busters including the hit collab by a young Sean Paul and Mr. Vegas, both of whom are also scheduled to perform at Irie Jamboree this weekend.  As producers of the event, it is my hope that perhaps they’ll do that one for Steely!
To his “other musical half”, Mr. Clevie Brownie, Steely’s family and friends, I offer sincere condolences.  We have lost a troubadour of this music, in this time, though his creations and teachings will live on.  While he is sadly missed, may he be fondly remembered.

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