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Master blaster of kaiso world

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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ARROW’S biggest song – and in fact the biggest soca hit of all time – starts with the celebratory Spanish call: Olé. It is repeated eight times, followed later by a drum solo that sounds distinctly Latin. We have loved Hot Hot Hot for nearly 30 years, and then we blast Gabby’s Olé Ashe because it won a calypso contest.
If this occasion wasn’t such a sad one, one could laugh. So could Gabby.
Today, Montserrat, the Caribbean and the world mourns the passing of a musical icon, who passed away yesterday just one week after being airlifted into Antigua for treatment for a brain tumour.
Alphonsus Arrow Cassell, 60, is no more, having closed his eyes in the place he remained proud to call home – the 40-square-mile island of Montserrat which, though virtually buried in volcanic ash in 1997, always remained home to this internationally acclaimed artiste.
So much did he love his country that in 1998, he joined 198 other artistes from around the Caribbean to record a song entitled Song For Montserrat as a benefit project for those displaced by the Langs Soufriere volcano.
Produced by United States-based Trinidadian promoter Gilman Figaro, who co-wrote and produced the song, it was the brainchild of Tom Hill, then vice-president of Air Jamaica, and was part of a project called Family In Action for Montserrat.
Among the artistes on that CD were Arrow, Red Plastic Bag, Ronnie McIntosh, Gabby, Mighty Sparrow, Rita Marley, Carlene Davis, Chalkdust, Mac Fingall, David Rudder, Calypso Rose and Machel Montano.
He also organised a fundraising calypso festival on the island in response to the devastation caused by the volcano.
Arrow won Montserat’s calypso monarch competition four times before focusing exclusively on his recording and touring career.
While the 1983 song Hot, Hot, Hot is his signature hit, grossing millions in royalties and performance fees even today, the soca master also gave the world songs like Long Time, Groove Master and Dance with Me, Woman from as far back as 1972.
Since the 1980s, Hot Hot Hot was adopted as the theme song of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, was the opening theme of the Miss Universe pageant in 1989 in Cancun, and was later covered by several non-Caribbean artistes.
Three years ago, Arrow performed at the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony in Jamaica, sharing the stage with Shaggy, Kevin Lyttle and Byron Lee; and also performed at the 2009 Summit of the Americas, attended by United States President Barack Obama in Trinidad in April 2009. (RJ)