Founding member of the Jolly Boys dies
JOSEPH 'Powda' Bennett, a member of the resurgent Jolly Boys mento group, died Wednesday at the University of the West Indies Hospital. He was 76.
His wife, Daisy Gardener-Bennett, told Splash that he had experienced asthma-type symptoms since returning from France on August 3.
She says last week, he was admitted to the Port Antonio Hospital for four days after complaining of "shorta breath". Bennett travelled to the UHWI early this week for treatment after his condition failed to improve.
Along with rhumba player Derrick 'Johnny' Henry and lead singer Albert Minott, Powda Bennett was an original member of the Jolly Boys.
Originally from the Charles Town area of Portland, he played the parish's tourist circuit for many years. The trio came to international prominence six years ago when they began recording for the Gee Jam label in Port Antonio.
Their Great Expectations album for that company was a revelation, similar to the Buena Vista Social Club in Cuba during the 1990s. The Jolly Boys performed throughout Europe, the United States, Australia and Hong Kong, and were the subject of feature stories by the Associated Press and New York Times.
Dale Virgo, who produced Great Expectations, remembers Bennett as the comedian of the group.
"A cheeky ole guy, full of vibes. Powda always had a story," said Virgo.
The Jolly Boys and Virgo recently completed recording a new album, Day O, which is scheduled for release this year.
Joseph 'Powda' Bennett is survived by his widow, five children, grandchildren and five sisters.
— Howard Campbell