Reflections of Bob Andy Reflections

Reflections of Bob Andy Reflections


Saturday, April 04, 2020

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THE Paragon started with two groups coming together. Kingston Parish Church Hall was the meeting ground for a group of young Anglicans called the Anglican Young People Association (AYPA).

Bob Andy and Tyrone Evans were altar boys at the Kingston Parish Church in the late 1950s/early '60s. Keith “Bob Andy” Anderson was a ward at Maxfield Park Children's Home at the time, while Tyrone Evans attended Kingston Technical High School. Bob, as he got older, was transferred from Maxfield Park to Stony Hill Approved School. After leaving Stony Hill Approved School, he attended Buxton High School on Victoria Avenue founded by the great Buxton Thompson. After leaving Buxton High School, he was trained and employed as a male nurse at Bellvue Hospital in Kingston.

Bob and Tyrone Evans were good friends and formed a group called The Binders, along with Junior Mens and one, Mr Buckley, who was a member of the Police band and a big singer in his own right.

The group reorganised themselves with a new name, The Paragons, which was given to them by Junior Mens, who informed that there was a group in New York with the name, but they were not operating with that name any more. They grabbed it and the rest is history. Prior to the formation of the group, Howard Barrett and Fuzzy Byfield, who both attended Kingston College were members of another singing group.

When Junior Mens migrated they (the Paragons) were looking around for someone to replace Junior, then came Howard Barrett. The group began to sing with The Vikings and was managed by Radcliffe Butler and Desmond Chambers of RJR fame. They did about four songs for Desmon Beat.

In 1966, there was a song festival (now called Festival Song) and Bob Andy wrote a song for the group which was entered in the song contest. Toots and the Maytals won the contest that year with a song called Bam Bam.

There was a problem between the group and John Holt and they decided to part company with him. Bob then suggested Vic Taylor, who was also a ward of the state. Vic did not last long, the blend was just not there. Here comes the big problem: Howard and Tyrone decided that they would once again incorporate John Holt as lead singer, but Bob would not have anything to do with that decision so he exited.

The Paragons then became a trio. They did not replace Bob so it was John Holt, Tyrone Evans, and Howard Barrett. They went onto Duke Reid and did Happy Go Lucky Girl, Look What Love Has Done to Me, amongst many others. During this period, Bob went on his own, writing a number of classics for Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe, and other artistes.

The only surviving member of the group, Howard Barrett, who now resides in New York, will tell you that Bob was a very opinionated, no nonsense person who would jokingly say: “If you are not Rasta you don't have any sense”. He said Bob was of the opinion that he was that great man from the promised land.

As an altar boy myself from St Phillips Anglican Church in Whitfield Town, we use to meet as youngsters at the Kingston Parish Church for AYPA meeting.

I can remember Bob Andy. He had a mind of his own, very strong in his convictions and would not give up easily. He loved a healthy discussion. He was genuine and respectful to all his friends; an association of over 60 years gone, but will never be forgotten.

Sleep well, thou warrior for the downtrodden.

Silvera C Castro is commissioner of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.

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