Saturday 16 February, 2019

Music pioneer Johnny Gonsalves succumbs to pancreatic cancer

Johnny Gonsalves has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Gonsalves, a former chief judge for Digicel Rising Stars, succumbed to his illness at 5.58 am on Friday in Florida.

Gonsalves was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016 and migrated to the United States to seek alternative treatments.

Co-founder of Second Imij, now Imij and Company, Gonsalves started his musical career with the band Frantic.

In 1994, he left Imij open his own home studio, together with Richard “Char Su” Ahong called Jogo Productions.

The label was responsible for producing music for some of Trinidad and Tobago’s top R&B, Gospel, Soca and Pop acts such as H2O Phlo, Ghetto Flex, Michael “Zoom,” Salloum and Nigel Soyer, among others.

Joey Ng Wai, who first met Gonsalves at the age of 14 when he went to audition for Frantic together with Salloum, said he has lost a great friend.

He described Gonsalves as someone who was always ahead of his time and who always thought outside the box.

“In 1988 some members of Frantic left the country and Johnny and myself came up with another band and with the assistance of my dad we started Second Imij. His idea was to have a show band playing soca. We became the band known back them for a uniform look, sharp moves, fantastic choreography,” he said, noting that after Carl and Carol Jacobs they were the second band to be electronic.

“We had a completely digital band, it gave us that edge of being that different and that was through Johnny’s vision to reach to an event and blow away everyone.”

Ng Wai said when Gonsalves left Imij in 1994 to start Jogo, he produced his Christmas album with every big name at the time. The album spawned a massive single “Christmas on the Hill” which has become a seasonal classic.

He said among Gonsalves' hits was a massive song called the All Star Show with KMC, Bunji Garlin, Ghetto Flex and Ataklan.

“After that, he opened a graphic design company and he designed the look of LIAT and worked with a lot of companies handling their printing works, designs and layout. He was not a man to stick to one thing, he tried to conquer each aspect of what he was doing,” said Ng Wai.

He revealed that after his diagnosis last year, Gonsalves started a foundation called Friends for Life, a forum for people to share information about medication and ideas. He was a pioneer, always one to go beyond. I lost a dear friend today, this one is hard to get over,” said Ng Wai, whose father also passed away from cancer. 

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