'JT' hails Walt Crooks

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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JUNIOR “JT” Tucker tipped his hat to late Montego Bay business and entertainment titan Walt Crooks, who passed away on the weekend.

According to Tucker, a pop singer-cum-preacher, Crooks assisted him in getting his career back on track when it was experiencing a lull.

“When I was at my lowest (career-wise); I was dropped from my recording contract with Geffen Records right after release of the album with Ray Parker Jr nearly $1 million in recording and advances were spent (of which I personally got nothing). Kicked to the curb by everyone a foreign, I came back home only to be told by most I don't fit here anymore 'cause I was no longer a kid — so I was too Jamaican for America and to American for our music industry. I had no money, no current hit song... just my voice... Walter Crooks (along with another man called Edgar Gallimore, who ran Wyndham club) would time and time again invite me to come and perform at Disco Inferno... MoBay embraced me and my confidence was lifted and, as a result, Don't Test and so on,” he posted on social media.

A former Kingston College student, Tucker started out as a pre-teen in the music business. Take a Little Time to Know Me, produced by Earl “Chinna” Smith in 1976, was his first recording.

It was, however, a cover of Michael Jackson's Happy, which was the first in a series of hit singles, including a cover of Eddie Kendricks' One of the Poorest People; It's a Small World; a cover of S ome Guys Have All The Luck, 16 (Into the Night), and Don't Test.

After being rostered to Island Records and later Geffen Records, in the early 1980s Tucker recorded an album under the guidance of singer/musician/producer Ray Parker Jr. During this period, he recorded Mr Telephone Man (written by Parker), which later became a hit for boy group New Edition.

Parker produced Tucker's sole Billboard chart entry Bad Girls, which spent seven weeks on the R&B Singles chart in 1983.

He pursued a successful career in the dancehall and scored with Move Along, Love of a Lifetime, Don't Touch My Baby, Give it Up, Love Somebody, and True Confessions.

Crooks — prinicpal of Disco Inferno club in the Coral Gardens in Montego Bay and founding member of Reggae Sumfest — died in Montego Bay last Friday. He was 69.

No official cause of death has been announced.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Disco Inferno was the hot spot for the Jamaica's in-crowd. Top American acts, including O'Jays, Chaka Khan, Billy Paul, Fats Domino and Dionne Warwick, graced its stage.

“I will never forget him as he believed in me when most said I was done.

“RIP Mr Crooks — an icon of Jamaican entertainment,” said Tucker, who ministers at True Word & Worship on Haining Road in New Kingston.

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