Entertainment

Musician Conroy Cooper is dead

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 17, 2019

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Seventy - four year-old musician Conroy Cooper was found dead at his Kingston apartment on Friday evening.

According to his brother Grub, who is best known for his association with show band Fab 5, Cooper was last seen entering his apartment on Tuesday. His landlord became suspicious when he did not see him leave on Friday and called the police who forcibly entered the house, where his body was found in a state of decomposition. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death.

Conroy Cooper was a founding member of Fab 5. After graduating from Excelsior High School in St Andrew during the early 1960s, he got involved in music and formed the band The Broncos. This was an early version of Fab 5 and they became the resident band at Hotel Kingston located on Half-Way-Tree Road, now site of the Kingston School of Nursing.

Cooper was part of the Fab 5 outfit that played on singer Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now album, which was released in 1972.

He remained with Fab 5 until 1978 when he left to pursue other musical interests. He primarily operated as a keyboardist/organist, and one-man band.

Grub shared that they received their musical talents from their parents. Their father, Albert Cooper, played from musical score, while their mother Zelma could play by ear.

He also noted the talents of his brother.

“He always showed a great talent for music ever since he was five years old. He always had a knack for music and always was ahead of most of his contemporaries during the early years. He was really, really highly skilled, and many people considered him a genius at the time, and some still did up until his death. His track record in later life musically was not so much as he was never in the music business full-time,” Grub told the Jamaica Observer.

He credits his brother with introducing a particular sound to reggae music.

“The shuffle organ sound in reggae... he was the first to do it when he was with (guitarist/bandleader) Lynn Tait. He also did a lot of studio work with Federal Records. He was also instrumental in getting Ernie Smith his first recording break, and he also gave Peter Ashbourne his recording break in pop music, as he told the people at Federal Records to hire him as he was a good artiste,” Grub disclosed.

It was at Grub's birthday party on December 29 last year that the brothers last saw each other, but spoke on the phone several times since.

Cooper, who was married three times, is survived by two children, Kismett and Kevin.


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