MoBay mourns death of entertainment entrepreneur Walt Crooks

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Montego Bay community is still reeling with “shock and sadness” following the passing of well-known western Jamaica-based entertainment entrepreneur, Walt Crooks, on Saturday last.

The 68-year-old Crooks, died at the Cornwall Regional Hospital after suffering from what is believed to be a stroke.

Crooks was the founder of the popular Disco Inferno in Rose Hall, which ruled the entertainment landscape in the 1970s and 1980s, delivering nightclub facilities and live entertainment with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry both locally and internationally.

When contacted by the Jamaica Observer West yesterday, events organiser, Junior Taylor, expressed shock at the sudden passing of Crooks.

“The news of his passing was especially shocking for me, as the night before we met at Grande A View in Montego Bay, where we discussed his latest venture of opening up an entertainment spot in Rose Hall. We discussed some ideas as to the way forward, and set a date for Sunday next to meet again. What has really stuck with me is the way we parted, he shook my hand for at least three minutes and kept repeating how we needed to get this venture up and running,” said Taylor.

“He was a visionary and a pioneer, in his early 20s he successfully opened and ran his first club, Happy Garden, in Falmouth, where he's originally from. He would later open Carousel at Rose Hall in St James and these eventually led to him opening Disco Inferno.

“Inferno in its prime was second to none in the Caribbean and featured performances from Third World, The O'Jays and Ben E King and many others,” Taylor added.

Attorney-at-law, entertainment insider and childhood friend, Nathan Robb, also expressed sadness at the passing of Crooks.

“To us he was 'Crooksie', 'Congo', 'Inferno' or just 'Walt'. We met at Cornwall College where we both played in the Under-13 football league and he was my senior and the captain at the time, but we developed good camaraderie from then on. I'm truly saddened at his passing. I have received numerous calls from persons speaking of his impact during his time. His clubs Inferno, and Epiphany in Kingston empowered young adults and created a lifestyle, where persons came from Kingston to party in Montego Bay,” said Robb.

“His contribution to entertainment is significant, he was a pioneer, Disco Inferno came out on top with about six other nightclubs in Montego Bay, as well as hotel facilities for entertainment. He later went on to become a founding member of Reggae Sumfest in 1993. I'll remember him as an optimist, a quiet, decent man with the best of intentions. His death marks the end of an era,” Robb concluded.

Several other people, including Minister of Tourism and Member of Parliament for St James East Central, Edmund Bartlett, and Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, have also expressed shock and sadness at the passing of Crooks.

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