By Terence McArdle

Gregory Isaacs, 59, the Jamaican-born reggae singer who was known as the "cool ruler" for his smooth, romantic singing style and who popularized the reggae subgenre known as lovers rock, died of lung cancer Oct. 25 at his home in London.

Unlike so-called roots rock singers Bob Marley and Burning Spear, who popularized songs that reflected world politics and the Rastafarian culture, Mr. Isaacs was best known for his love songs, many of which he wrote.

With his seductive style, he often pleaded for love or begged a lover for understanding. Nattily attired with his fedora hats and sports jackets, Mr. Isaacs conveyed a combination of prowess and vulnerability that invited comparisons to American rhythm and blues singers Tyrone Davis and Marvin Gaye.

Writing in The New York Times, music critic Milo Miles called Mr. Isaacs "the most exquisite vocalist in reggae," adding that "his lustful songs are not simple seductions or sexual boasts but sensuous daydreams, escapes from tribulation that invite the listener along."

With the success of his release "Night Nurse" (1982), which he co-wrote, Mr. Isaacs was poised for international stardom.


"Night Nurse," with its sly innuendo — "I don't wanna see no doc. I need attendance from my nurse around the clock. There's no prescription for me, she's my only remedy" — was a club hit for Mr. Isaacs in 1982.

That same year, he was sentenced to six months in a Jamaican prison for possession of unlicensed firearms.

Mr. Isaacs maintained that he owned the guns for protection from robbers and political violence, which had engulfed Jamaica in the late 1970s, "just like you have a jacket to protect you from the cold."


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