Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, By Howard Campbell – In a cruel twist of fate, Fitzroy “Bunny Diamond” Simpson died on Friday, two days after the brutal murder of Donald “Tabby Diamond” Shaw, his colleague in The Mighty Diamonds, one of reggae music’s iconic groups.
His family said the 70-year-old Simpson died at National Chest Hospital in St Andrew, but no cause of death was disclosed. Simpson had suffered a debilitating stroke in 2015 that effectively ended his music career.
That career started in 1969 with Shaw and Lloyd “Judge Diamond” Ferguson as The Mighty Diamonds. The trio shot to fame during the 1970s with a series of conscious songs including I Need A Roof, Africa, and Have Mercy.
Shaw, 67, was killed in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew, in a drive-by shooting which saw another man fatally shot and two others injured.
On Friday, music producer Gussie Clarke was distraught when he spoke to the Jamaica Observer. His association with the group goes back over 40 years. He produced Pass The Kutchie, the 1982 track that turned out to be The Mighty Diamonds’ best-selling song.
Clarke said Simpson “was like the glue that held the group together. They were varying personalities, but Bunny was a little bit of Judge and a little bit of Tabby. They had their own value which made a diamond”.
On March 31, as the reggae community was still trying to grasp the tragic death of Tabby Diamond, legendary roots singer Burning Spear (real name Winston Rodney) saluted The Mighty Diamonds and other “foundation artistes” who helped put Jamaican music on the world map during the 1970s.
“They came with songs that teach di youths dem. Wi losing all di greats, but di great thing is dat dem works will live on,” Rodney told the Observer.
The Mighty Diamonds hailed from Trench Town, bedrock of the Rastafarian movement during the 1960s. That Afrocentric message inspired many reggae artistes who emerged during the 1970s, most of whom recorded a signature album. With The Mighty Diamonds, it was Right Time, released in 1976 by Virgin Records.
Recorded at Channel One studio, it included roots standards like the title song, I Need A Roof, Africa, Have Mercy, Them Never Love Poor Marcus, and Why Me Black Brother, Why.
Over the years the group also delivered other hits, among them Identity, Juvenile Child, Ghetto Living, and Danger In Your Eyes.
Simpson, Shaw and Ferguson toured tirelessly until ill health forced an end to Simpson’s career seven years ago.
Simpson is survived by six children and several grandchildren.