‘Trio of Gems’ — Jamaica looses two Mighty Diamonds

Sonia Chin and Tabby of the Mighty Diamonds.
Sonia Chin and Tabby of the Mighty Diamonds.

Members of the reggae fraternity are reeling from shock and disbelief after receiving back-to-back tragic news regarding the Mighty Diamonds, one of the oldest collaborators of Jamaica’s popular music genre.

On March 29 reports of a drive-by shooting in Kingston, Jamaica named 66-year-old, lead singer Tabby the target of a reprisal murder. Reportedly, the singer was brutally murdered in the streets of a community known as Waterhouse by gangsters in dispute with his imprisoned son JahMarley.

Three days later on April 1, when jokesters usually trick unsuspecting friends to believing the absurd, news of the passing of 70-year-old Bunny Diamond, another longtime collaborator seemed a cruel hoax.

Social media broke the shattering news.

Marc-Antoine Chetata, the group’s publisher confirmed the untimely death explaining that Bunny had been ailing since suffering a stroke in 2015. He added that although the cause of death had not been determined, diabetes plagued the singer and might have led to his demise.

Many believe the stunning news of Tabby’s murder might have contributed to his fatality.

It was no hoax.

No trickery, prank or April Fool’s joke, Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson transitioned days after his schoolmate departed.

“I don’t believe it,” Lister Hewan Lowe, exclaimed. “I cyaan believe it. Two Diamonds gone! Just like that?”

Lowe, a former promotion executive at Island Records expressed grief, he said felt like a “punch to the gut.”

“They were the nicest guys in reggae…the gems of the genre.”

The pair met in school in 1969 and with Lloyd Ferguson aka Judge united to form the Mighty Diamonds.

That Donald ‘Tabby’ Shaw was brutally gunned down while reveling with friends in a community he was respected sadly resonated as a sobering reminder that every minute counts.

“You mean to tell me, they survived Covid…all kinds of touring problems…and just like that in three days two of them gone,”

Lowe was not alone, on hearing the disheartening news.

After accepting the tragedies as a sign of the times he reflected on the concerts he enjoyed at Long Island’s My Father’s Place during the 80s and 90s when the space hosted some of the legends of the genre.

“They were the main attractions,” Lowe recalled “fans came from all over to pack into the small space. It was like Bob (Marley) or Jimmy (Cliff) coming to New York.”

On hearing the telephone rumor, Sonia Chin, an avid reggae fan screamed denial: “No, no no,”

Not another one…”

She was headed for the subway when she responded to a call.

She said instead of entering the underground transportation system she bypassed the subway entrance and instead walked around in order to search for confirmation.

She refused to concede to what she believed to be prank

“This is definitely some kind of weird joke,”

With no early confirmation from either of Jamaica’s daily newspapers, Wikipedia or any reliable news source she relentlessly pursued alternate outlets she believed would deny truth to the unnerving phone call.

However, while browsing for contacts to clarify the tragedies, Chin questioned the unlikeliness of anyone to subject the Mighty Diamonds to such a cruel tradition.

Ultimately her hopes were dashed when a call interrupted her search informing her that a brokered radio station had been playing tribute music to the gems of reggae.

She said she was told that IRIE Jam’s, DJ Roy chose from a playlist of hits that included “Pass The Kutchie,” “Right Time,” “I Need A Roof,” and classic recordings the trio compiled throughout 52 years.

Throughout the weekend expressions of condolence flooded reggae radio and the internet with nostalgic reminders of the humble unassuming group members who crossed borders to entertain fans throughout the world.

Chin reminisced a 2019 encounter she had with Tabby when the Mighty Diamonds performed on the Jamrock Cruise.

“He was “humble, genuine and kind.”

She said he seemed unfazed by his celebrity.

Bunny shared the same personalities.

Reggae’s sparkling Diamonds are no longer shining.

They represented the best of Jamaica.

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