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Remembering 'Wya'

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

REGGAE singer Barry Biggs remembers Earl “Wya” Lindo as a talented keyboard player who cut his teeth in The Astronaunts band.

“He was in school, Excelsior (High), when he started with my band. I was the first one who took him to studio when I recorded Got To Be Mellow... This was about 1968 or '69. When Wya was playing, he injected lots of phrases in the music. I knew from day one he would reach far,” Biggs told the Jamaica Observer. “He had natural talent and feel like no-one else.”

In addition to Lindo on organ and Biggs on lead vocals, The Astronaunts comprised Trevor Brown (guitar), Mikey “Boo” Richards (drums), Richie Daley (guitar), Phillip Martin (bass) and Ernest Wilson (vocals).

Biggs said he began introducing Lindo to some of Jamaica music industry's who's who.

“After that I took him down to Duke Reid's Treasure Isle studio. Wya played on the flip side of John Holt's Wear You To The Ball with U-Roy. It was a wicked hit,” said Biggs.

The veteran singer said he eventually parted with the band he started, after being approached by bandmaster Byron Lee.

“Byron Lee made me an offer I couldn't refuse...this was around 1970. I discussed it with the guys and they said I should go... Byron Lee's band was a bigger band and, as they say, the rest is history... Wya went on to Now Generation and then part of Bob Marley's Wailers... Everybody started using him in sessions. He made a lot of difference to the music,” said Biggs.

Lindo died in a London hospital last Monday at 64. He had been complaining of stomach pains hours before.

Veteran keyboard player Robbie Lyn remembers meeting Lindo, who was then a member of the Now Generation band, back in the early 1970s.

Lyn was part of In Crowd band. However, both worked as session musicians at Federal Records in Kingston.

“We went to studio together. It was like a brotherhood. We did a number of sessions for Pluto (Shervington) and Ernie (Smith). We did Silouhette for Dennis Brown; Y Mas Gan for The Abyssinians; Lorna Bennett's Breakfast In Bed for Harry J. Pablo Moses had some nice production that Wya had a hand in,” said Lyn. “Wya also played guitar on Bob Marley's Redemption song. He's also in the official video. He carved out a niche for himself.”

He too saw something special in Lindo.

“Wya injected a new style of organ playing to reggae and I saw it first hand. He went on to do other things,” said Lyn.

Lyn said he last spoke to Lindo about four years ago while on a visit to England.

“I called him and was touching base. I said we should catch up ... His death came as a surprise to me as I never knew he was ailing,” Lyn added.

Lindo is survived by wife Marie, and two daughters.