The local entertainment fraternity is mourning the loss of a man described as a “pioneer” of calypso in Barbados.
Even more troubling for those closest to him is the way in which Edward Mighty Herring Rowe, renowned for his songwriting abilities from as early as the 1960’s passed away amid an ongoing fight with cancer.
As news of the tragedy spread, tributes flowed in from some of Barbados’ most respected entertainment voices including MacDonald the Mighty Grynner Blenman, Cultural Ambassador, Anthony Mighty Gabby Carter and Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King, a former calysonian.
Reports from Herring’s Lightfoot Lane, Bridgetown community suggest he died alone at home and had been dead for sometime before a neighbour discovered his body.
Residents, still grappling with the shock were in a solemn mood as police officers carried out their investigations around the house.
Jeffrey Blackie Blackman, a neighbour and fellow musician told Barbados TODAY he last saw Herring alive on Sunday at around 11 o’clock. He was the first to discover his lifeless body on Wednesday morning just after eight.
“I saw Herring there lying on the ground and then I started to call him, but I knew he was gone… and I looked back and told them he was dead and we called the police,” said Blackman.
Just the day before, the neighbour recalled being asked to check on the former songwriter but said he was not feeling well and did not bother to go.
“One of the last things he told me was that he was writing a song for a church, but I don’t know which one it was. He asked me if I want a gospel song to play and I told him I could play anything and we just laughed and that was it. I never got the chance to get the song he was telling me about, but that is life,” he said.
The songwriter was very close to fellow calypsonians Pompey, Jah Stone and many others,” according to Herring’s brother, Michael Rowe.
In fact, mltiple road march winner MacDonald ‘the Mighty Grynner” Blenman, in whose honour the former Spring Garden Highway was recently renamed, said Herring was the writer of his last road march hit in 1998.
“He is a good songwriter and a good calypsonian too. He wrote Old Time Melody which won road march in 98… we always had good times together. He used to be at my house from years ago and we belong to one another but now I don’t go to town like I once did,” said Grynner.
The decorated calypsonian recalled: “We ‘limed’ together all in Cave Hill on Sundays and we would go and sing and make ourselves and other people happy.”
Barbados’ most renowned calypsonian and Cultural Ambassador, Anthony The Mighty Gabby Carter described Herring as “one of the pioneers of calypso” in Barbados.
“He did a lot of work. Herring was one of the few people you could call on to put down chairs or clean out the place apart from singing and he wrote a lot of songs for a lot of people. He was highly underrated with one of the sweetest voices we ever had in calypso. So I am really sorry and hurt to hear that he is gone,” said Gabby.
The sad news prompted Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John A King to issue an official statement describing Rowe as “a pillar” in the cultural industry.
“He was a master of the art form, with an in-depth understanding of composing calypso. Herring had the uncanny ability to marry an infectious melody with clever lyrics and create something magical,” said the Minister, who also described the deceased songwriter as a humble individual despite his success in local entertainment.
“From the benches in Queen’s Park where he quietly sat to write, to the tents and Crop Over stages, the indelible mark Mighty Herring made on this industry will not go unnoticed. We have lost one of our greatest songwriters and a man who epitomised the definition of a stalwart,” said King as he offered condolences to Rowe’s family.
Herring’s brother, Michael Rowe, told Barbados TODAY he was in Chapman Lane when he heard the news from his niece and came over to nearby Lightfoot Lane, but the body had already been moved.
Michael said his brother was the first of nine children (six brothers and two sisters) to pass away. He was the fourth of those nine siblings and reportedly had a son.
He described their relationship as “alright” but admitted there was some tension between them as his sickness worsened.
“Our relationship was alright and we were connected good, but he was just a little miserable in his sickness,” said Michael.
“I don’t know the fullness of what happened but I felt really bad when I heard about it so I rushed here right away… He was a good man and a good songwriter. He went to school at Combermere and had his certificates. He could write well and he was a very bright man,” said Herring’s brother.
Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector Rodney Inniss meanwhile said investigations would continue but revealed no foul play is suspected.