Max Romeo is 70 not out

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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VETERAN singer Max Romeo celebrated his 70th birthday in style Saturday at his home in Treadways, St Catherine. He also observed his 50th year in the music business, and paid homage to his contemporary John Holt who rescued his career when he (Romeo) was going through personal challenges.

"This occasion is very special to me to be celebrating two of the high points in my life. It feels good because life is like a game of cricket and during my life I have faced a lot of balls and they don’t bowl me yet," Romeo said. "I always meet the bowlers half-way down the wicket and I am happy that they don’t beat me yet.

My aim is to reach 100 but if I get to 90, I will be satisfied." Romeo (born Livingston Maxwell Smith) saluted Holt, who died October 20 in London at age 69. "At a time when I was being wasted in New York I ran into John Holt and he said to me, ‘What are you doing here? You should be in Jamaica. You need to be in Jamaica to get your life and career back on track’."

Romeo told the audience that he listened to Holt and returned home. The move changed his life: "I told him (Holt) I had no place to go (in Jamaica) and he said to me he had a house in Meadowbrook where he took me and I stayed there for one year. Then I met the woman I married and with whom I have four children, two girls and two boys. I told them had it not been for John Holt, it (the family) would not happen."

One of Romeo’s sons, Ronaldo, acknowledged his father’s influence. "It’s an honour to be here celebrating this event with my father. He is a person whom I idolise. It’s very exciting to be here." After cutting the birthday cake and brief testimonials from relatives and well-wishers, there were live performances from a number of artistes.

The (guitarist) Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith-led Inna De Yard Band did excellent renditions of Bob Marley’s We and Dem and Babylon System by Sangie Davis. This was followed by Natty Pablo who did Trying Our Best, Ras Marlon (Flying Machine), Donovan Joseph (True Believer), Mark Wonder (Ancient of Days), JAH Llando (World Crisis), the Viceroys Ya Ho and Heart of Stone, Bongo Joe (There’s No Secret) and Sophia Squire who delivered Rata Rata Tat and Love Like Rain. The man of the moment brought the curtains down with his evergreen songs such as One Step Forward, Three Blind Mice, War Ina Babylon, Maccabee Version and Let The Power Fall in collaboration with singjay Ruffiann.

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