Donald“TabbyDiamond” Shawperforming at Tribute tothe Greats held at CurpheyPlace in St Andrew in July2019. He received thePioneer Award at theevent. (Photo: JosephWellington)

IT was customary during a Mighty Diamonds show for Tabby Diamond to ask, 'Who sey Rasta cyaan sing love song?', before belting out the group's version of The Manhattans' There's no me Without You.

One of reggae's great soul singers, Tabby Diamond, was killed March 29 during a drive-by shooting at McKinley Crescent in the Olympic Way community of St Andrew. He was 66 years old.

At news time, no arrests were made for the incident in which another man was killed and two others shot and injured.

The voice that drove roots-reggae standards like Right Time, I Need A Roof, Africa, Heads of Government, and Pass The Kouchie was one of the music's most distinctive.

Originally from Trench Town, Donald Shaw (his given name) was a founding member of the 'Diamonds' which formed in that community 53 years ago. His longtime colleagues are Fitzroy “Bunny Diamond” Simpson and Lloyd “Judge Diamond” Ferguson.

Until illness stopped Simpson from recording and touring in 2015, the trio were inseparable.

Drummer Sly Dunbar played on some of the Diamonds' biggest hit songs including Right Time and I Need A Roof during their breakthrough years at Channel One studio in Kingston. He remembers Tabby Diamond as a “great singer with a great sound” who “could sing anything”.

Dunbar rates Tabby's performance on Africa among his finest.

“Jus' di way he caressed di lyrics was amazing,” he said.

Gussie Clarke produced Pass The Kouchie, commercially The Mighty Diamonds' biggest song. He told the Jamaica Observer that he and The Mighty Diamonds had recently discussed recording a new album.

Clarke said Tabby Diamond, “Was a simple man who didn't deserve that death. He was smooth, cool an' jus' loved his work.”

Last year, Donald “Tabby Diamond” Shaw and his colleagues in The Mighty Diamonds were conferred with the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government.

Efforts by the Observer to contact Judge Diamond or members of Tabby Diamond's family were unsuccessful.

The Mighty Diamonds: (from left) Bunny Diamond, Tabby Diamond, and Judge Diamond.
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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