Entertainment

Singer Bobby Thomas is dead

Howard Campbell

Wednesday, November 28, 2012    

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BOBBY Thomas, a member of the Happiness Unlimited band that played the North Coast hotel circuit in the 1970s, has died.

Journalist Maureen Sheridan, who knew Thomas for over 20 years, said he died from complications of Parkinson's Disease in his native St Ann on November 11.

According to Happiness Unlimited bass player Garth Bright, Thomas joined the band in 1976 three years after it was formed in Kingston by hotelier Hart Richards.

"Bobby was a very warm and charming person, which was one of his greatest strengths in his performance. He loved to sing and dance and so he fit in with the essence of Happiness Unlimited very well from the get-go," Bright told the Jamaica Observer.

Thomas was lead vocalist on the band's first recording, Happiness, which was released in 1978. He wrote their song Fire and also led on songs like Spring Time and Reggae From Jamaica.

Happiness Unlimited was the resident band at the Ocho Rios Intercontinental Hotel (now the Jamaica Grande) in the early 1980s when they impressed a famous guest.

Stevie Wonder took the seven-piece unit to Los Angeles where he worked on their stage craft and wrote songs for them, hoping to sign them to his new label.

That never materialised and Happiness Unlimited disbanded in 1984. Some members including Thomas returned home while others, like Bright, stayed in North America.

Thomas later joined The Word, a group that included Sheridan and her daughter, Tasha V Wagener. The group, best known locally for the song Two White Girls pon a Minibus, was briefly linked to pioneer rap label, Sugar Hill Records.

The funeral service for Bobby Thomas takes place on December 1 at St Ann's Bay Anglican Church.

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