Barry O'Hare dead at 56

Entertainment

Barry O'Hare dead at 56

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 20, 2020

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WELL-RESPECTED music and audio engineer Barry O'Hare died at University Hospital of the West Indies, in St Andrew, yesterday morning. The 56-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.

Stage technician Jeffrey Brown, a friend of O'Hare for more than 4o years, confirmed his passing.

“Barry was one of the best persons on the face of this earth...Mi an' him is not like friends, we're like brothers. He's always willing to lend a hand. If I go to Ochi, I would stay at his house,” Brown, 56, told the Jamaica Observer. “He died this morning. I'm not sure of the exact time. He had an underlying sickness otherwise from that. Mi vex bad.”

According to Brown, O'Hare came to Kingston to do his regular check-up at Nuttall Hospital and was referred to the University Hospital of the West Indies by his doctor. He was tested for COVID-19 and the results came back positive on Thursday.

“I spoke to him yesterday [Friday] and he sounded upbeat. Last night, he told me that when the test came back positive, they moved him from the ward he was on,” said Brown.

“I was planning to bring some stuff for him today, as he had asked me to get some stuff... It's really, really sad,” Brown added.

O'Hare's musical journey began at an early age. The son of a minister of religion, he attended Vaz Prep School in Kingston where he started piano lessons. By nine, he was playing piano in his father's Pentecostal Church, and the organ by 11.

“I wanted to study sound engineering at Fulsail University in Orlando. My mother didn't really approve but could live with my decision, but my father was not having it. My cousin Stephen Stewart, who was also the son of a minister, had got into the industry working with Bob Marley at Tuff Gong and I remember my father seeing Bob flashing his locks and said: 'A dat you want to get into?',” O'Hare told the Jamaica Observer in a 2012 interview.

O'Hare said Stewart gave him a call in 1987 that would change his life forever.

“He told me of a new studio being opened in Ocho Rios, Grove Recording Studio, and I went there and met (owner) Karl Young. At first, he said no... 'yuh finger dem too big, gonna mash up the board'. I was offered the job as an assistant and paid $300 per week. Within two months, I was doing all the recording at Grove,” he reflected.

Since then O'Hare has worked with Third World, Steel Pulse, and Burning Spear. He was engineer for Spear's Grammy-winning album Calling Rastafari in 2000.

Tanya Stephens, Diana King, Yami Bolo, Jack Radics, Prezident Brown, Mikey Spice, and Jahmali have also benefited from his expertise. He also worked on sound for film and television projects including the Disney film Sebastian and the ABC series Going to Extremes which was shot on location in Jamaica. On the road, O'Hare was engineer for Shaggy for 10 years; he has also worked in this capacity for Sean Paul and Beres Hammond.

O'Hare believes that his willingness to learn is what sets him apart from his peers. He advises youngsters wishing to come into the field to learn from the greats.

“Understand the principles of sound recording first and foremost. Listen to the guidance of seniors. I always loved watching people like Geoffrey Chung. See how they deal with sound, watch how they mic a session or an instrument... It's not just about turning knobs,” he explained. “Nowadays, a lot of youngsters come into the industry and all they want to do is sit around a board and mix. You must also realise that you are the captain of the ship and there must be patience. One line in a song can take three hours to record just to get it right.”

In 2018, he was recognised by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) for his contribution to the growth and development of reggae music.

O'Hare is survived by a wife and two children.


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