Entertainment

PASSAGE - HEDLEY JONES

2017 Entertainment Highlights

Thursday, December 21, 2017

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The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues its daily year in review of people who made an impact during 2017.

TWO months shy of becoming a centenarian, pioneer musician, inventor and engineer Hedley Jones died in his Montego Bay, St James home of natural causes on September 1. His death was confirmed by his son, Art, through social media.

Jones remembers his father as a disciplinarian.

“He was an intellect. He was very disciplined and stern as it relates to getting things done, but he was a loving father. I remember him always taking my siblings and I to the beach on Sundays, then brunch after church. I have countless memories of him,” the younger Jones told the Jamaica Observer.

Many of Jones' peers remembered his achievements.

“Hedley was a gigantic man where music is concerned. I have known him from I was a child, but never really met him until about 15 years ago when he was honoured at 'Tribute to the Greats'. He is quite an unsung hero,” said music insider Kingsley Goodison.

Tribute to the Greats is an annual show conceptualised by Goodison to laud Jamaica's finest musicians.

Goodison said Jones was not only a talented musician, but an innovator and inventor.

“Not only did he make Clement “Coxson” Dodd's Studio One studio (in 1962), sound system amplifiers, and other musical instruments, but he was the engineer who helped to build the traffic lights in Jamaica. People were in awe and everyone came out to see it in Kingston, “ Goodison recalled.

Jones also did recording sessions at Studio One as a guitarist.

Olivia “Babsy” Grange — minister of culture, gender affairs, entertainment and sport — described Jones as “multifaceted” and that with his passing, Jamaica lost a great son.

“I say that he was a 'wonder man,' not just because of his long life, but also because of the varied and illustrious accomplishments that he packed into his 99 years,” she said. “But of all of his contributions, Mr Jones' impact on our music must be counted as the greatest part of his legacy. It has to be so when you consider that he played music as well as made musical instruments. He played the cello as a child, and as an adult was an accomplished guitarist who made guitars.”

The St Catherine-born Jones served as a radar engineer with the Royal Air Force in World War II. Returning to Jamaica in the late 1940s, he opened Bop City, a radio service store on King Street in downtown Kingston.

Jones built amplifiers for early sound systems, including Thomas Wong's The Great Sebastian.

He was vice-president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians from 1968-85 and president from 1985-95. In 1993 Jones was invested with the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government for his contribution to music.

Eighteen years later, he received a Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica. In 2014 Jones received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association.

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