Glenroy Richards: the singer who died at Green Bay


Glenroy Richards: the singer who died at Green Bay

Observer senior writer

Sunday, January 14, 2018

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THE 40th anniversary of the infamous Green Bay incident went largely unnoticed. Five men were controversially killed at a shooting range in Port Henderson, St Catherine, by a squad of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers on January 5, 1978.

One of them was Glenroy Richards, an aspiring singer whose 1977 song Wicked Can't Run Away remains one of reggae's unheralded classics.

The song was produced by Glen Brown who, like Richards and the four men who perished at Green Bay, was from the Southside community of Central Kingston. It was released on his Grove Music label, an influential underground imprint during the 1970s.

Richards was in his late 20s at the time of his death. He had some trouble with the law, having being arrested and charged for murder in 1970, but, never tried in court.

He along with former Jamaica and Santos footballer Norman “Guttu” Thompson, Trevor Clarke, Winston Hamilton and Martin Howard were among 10 men who went to Green Bay in two Red Cross ambulances to meet a 'big man' who had promised them $300 a week jobs as drivers and bodyguards.

They were killed, but their colleagues fled and returned to Southside.

The dreadlocked Richards became something of a dancehall martyr after the bloody incident. Wicked Can't Run Away, driven by a haunting saxophone intro and Richards' stark vocals, became an anthem; artistes like Big Youth protested the men's demise in song.

Though he did another song ( Dread In A Babylon) for Brown, Richards did not record a lot. He was known in Southside as a good footballer at the corner league level and was a friend of area leaders like Franklyn “Chubby Dread” Allen.

Ten JDF soldiers were charged with murders of the Green Bay Five. They were freed in February 1982 in the Manchester Circuit Court.

Clarke, Hamilton and Howard have become footnotes in one of independent Jamaica's most controversial incidents. Because of his football exploits, Guttu Thompson's name will always be linked with Santos' glory days of the 1970s.

Glenroy Richards never made it big as a singer in life, but the endurance of Wicked Can't Run Away assured him a place in the annals of reggae history.

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