Well played Mikey
saxoMusicianMikey Chung accepting a Jamaica Reggae Industry phonist Dean Fraser.Association (JaRIA) Award in 2014. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Like Lynn Taitt, his musical hero, Michael “Mikey” Chung was never one for the limelight. He preferred to let his guitar do the talking, another trait he shared with the Trinidadian musician.

Chung's humility as a human being and contributions to reggae as a multi-instrumentalist were remembered during a thanksgiving service for his life at Police Officer's Club in St Andrew on February 26.

The former member of Now Generation Band and Peter Tosh's Word, Sound And Power band, died on December 28 at age 71.

Several colleagues who worked with him over his 55-year career paid homage to Chung or ''Mao'' and ''Billy'', as he was known to family and friends.

Tributes by video came from singers Barry Biggs and Ruddy Manning (founding member of Home T 4) as well as guitarist Andy Bassford and Trevor “Sparrow” Thompson, who was a drummer/singer in the Mighty Mystics, Chung's first band.

Ibo Cooper, former member of Third World and Inner Circle, represented the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. He told the gathering that he first met Mikey Chung and his younger brother Geoffrey while they were first/second-year students at Knox College in Manchester.

Later, they moved to Kingston; Cooper to attend Jamaica College and the Chungs to St George's College. In the late 1960s, the three became immersed in the city's thriving live music scene.

Cooper said he and Geoffrey (who died in 1995) were much closer, but there was a lot to appreciate about Mikey.

“One could not help but admire his patience, his musicianship,” he stated. “We have not lost a brother, the Almighty lent him to us for a time. He did great service on this planet with his music and his personality.”

Herbie Miller from the Jamaica Music Museum was Tosh's manager at the time Chung played in the singer/songwriter's band. He recalled the influence Chung had as an arranger on Tosh's albums such as Mystic Man, Wanted Dread & Alive and Bush Doctor.

Chung's younger brother Charlie reflected on life in a Chinese-Jamaican home in Manchester and Vineyard Town in Kingston, where the five Chung siblings were raised and came of age musically.

He acknowledged the African blood that coursed through their mother's veins, and the challenges non-white persons faced coming to the Caribbean as slaves or indentured workers.

“He was part of a journey of peoples in the colonised world, and their achievements against all odds,” said Charlie Chung.

There were musical tributes from singers Pam Hall, Carlene Davis, I Kong, The Tamlins and Home T's Bagga Case and Leroy Palmer. They were backed by a band that included keyboardists Robbie Lyn and Franklyn Waul, bassist Lloyd Parks and saxophonist Dean Fraser.

The Tamlins
I Kong
Pam Hall
Stranger Cole
Ibo Cooper perusing MikeyChung's funeral programme.
Carlene Davis
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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