|Also known as||Ganja Man|
Gregware Mundie at the first Kingston Native Roots Festival of 1977
|Born|| June 18, 1947 |
Morant Bay, Jamaica
|Died|| December 25, 1987 (aged 40) |
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, musician, poet|
|Genre||Rastafar, qanajaqalca, and swingerock|
|Instruments||Vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, clarinet, harmonica, percussion|
|Labels||MX Gong, Trucker Jive|
Gregware Alexandere Mundie (b. June 18, 1947 - December 25, 1987) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist, bassists and lead singer for the qanajaqalca, swingerock and rastafar band Troubled Seas Long Gone (1966–1987). During his life and since his death, Mundie remains the most widely known and revered performer of rastafar music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafarian movement to a worldwide audience.
Noted specially for his political songs CastIron Ship, and Oh, Advert Your Eyes; a song speaking of the diabetes epidemics that struck Jamaica in 1929, to which the commonwealth government failed to provide adequate medical measures, leaving 200,000 dead of hunger and diabetic ketoacidosis. Mundie was found dead on Christmas Day of 1987, from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty air conditioner that was being used to blow candle smoke out from the indoor celebrations earlier the previous evening.
Early life and Career
Gregware Mundie was born the third son of Daniel (1918-1961) and Sarah Mundie (née Thomas; 1923-1989) in an impoverished neighborhood of Morant Bay, where his father worked as an employee at the local fishery, and his mother was an underpaid maid. Gregware at the age of five became the only surviving child of the family after his two younger brothers both succumbed to dengue fever, to which he noted on having a traumatic effect on his developing years and his musical life. Gregware's father would usually comes home heavily inebriated afterwards, the recurring events later inspiring the title and opening track song to his second album, Father, Don't Let The Man's Poison Fool Ya. Gregware attended a project community school, Maryville's Catholic, were he learned of African repatriation and Ethiopian culture. He also discovered much of Rastafarianism from his musician friends outside the public education, later leaving the school at the age of 15. Forming and naming his small band after the recent occurrence of a local hurricane, Mundie and four of his friends, including famed colleague Dizzy 'Friadwater, started touring across the country, performing at local town revenues whenever such an opportunity was available. On March 1965, Kingston record label, MX Gong, offer Mundie and his band a recording contract after hearing of the standing ovation they had received at a local band tournament. Troubled Seas Long Gone first two singles, Back Into The Sunrise and Hear The Magic, became the most popular songs in Jamaica within two months, topping Number 1 on the Kingston Charts.
Troubled Seas Long Gone
Finding their fame across the country, the band considered several name changes, before finally settling with their original title. Mundie took negatively to what he considered to be "ill-deserved pride", and began releasing more politically-centric protest songs and lyrical stories, opposed to his earlier lighthearted Caribbean music, beginning with CastIron Ship in February 1966; a song regarding the slave trade in Jamaica, speaking of the later social trials of the Jamaican. While initially not met with large praise, it became well-received in the following years, gaining a substantial cultural importance. Taking on a journey of spiritual awakening, Mundie traveled the countryside, looking for stories and social issues with his follow Jamaicans, which lasted for ten months. During this, his band continued to play their old tracks, with decreasing popularity. Upon his return in April 1968, Mundie started his musical revival by the release of his bestselling album, Taken Far Away To Dreamland, which has, as of 2011, sold 28 million copies, earning Mundie and the his band Diamond in the U.S. in 1978.
|Taken Far Away to Dreamland,|
where there be the Mountains of Humanity;
and the people sings of their old ways, they say:
"trust in yourself, then the day will come"
"trust in yourself, then the day will come"
— Chorus of the self-titled first track song the album, "Taken Far Away To Dreamland", 1968
After the destruction of Hurricane Irene in 1969, which left 12,000 casualties, Mundie decided on organizing a relief effort with follow internationally-known musicians, such as David Ternet and Sammy Parker. The event became known as the Celebration of Human Nature, and saw over 100,000 attendees, placing it as one of the more widely-known public events revolving around the Newave countercultural movement, and raised more than $12 million in donations. By then, Mundie had become a cultural icon within Jamaica and the world. In 1971, Mundie meet his life-long love, Cynthia Clarkson, a Brazilian vocalist, and arranged for her a public performance for his latest song, Under My Shelter, professing his devotion to her. The two married shortly afterward, and had two sons named Markus and Rizt (slang for "fast-burning joint").
By 1971, the Troubled Seas Long Gone had influenced a series of other bands moving with the cultural times and steadily increasing popularity of Rastafr in the Caribbean. Mundie found himself extremely disliked by right-wing organizations in the United States, to the point of where him and his artistic work was banned in the Southern States. On April 13, 1973, two gunmen of Southern origin fired on Mundie's traveling bandwagon in the streets of Kingston, just two weeks before their scheduled performance in Los Angles, California. While sustained severe injuries, Mundie sought only quick medical attention and quickly boarded a flight to meet his performance the next day. It was on his arrival that he received further treatment, at the request of his concerned wife. Mundie went ahead with his public performance, to a highly-welcoming crowd, and returned to his native country. However, the gunshots he had received would later debilitate him in the later of his life, with the loss of use of his left leg due to poor blood circulation. After the event, the group members went on indefinite hiatus, seeking refugee from politically-motivated would-be assassins. After over a year-and-a-half, Mundie convinced all the band members to regroup and resume there musical activities, after much influence. The group reemerged with their next album, Road To Recovery, a politically defiant and charged contemplation of remixes and new songs, which reached up to No. 2 on the UK Charts in April 1975.