It was a turnout fit for a king – a calypso king that is, and his loyal and adoring subjects were on hand at the venerable St. John’s Cathedral to bid him farewell. Scores of friends, fans and family members gathered in the sanctuary, as well as the churchyard, to share fond memories of the life of one of Antigua’s most dearly-beloved calypsonians – Tyrone ‘Edimelo’ Thomas.
For example, there was Dalma ‘Boogie’ George, one of Antigua’s finest drummers, and one of the founding members of the VISION band (the late, great Eric Peters and Edimelo are the other two), spoke warmly of the creative genius that was Edimelo. George recalls him as the hardest worker in the music business, who strove always to give of his best, and who was happiest when performing and entertaining. They were not only bandmates, but kindred spirits – they could read each other. George said that “A few weeks before his homegoing, Edimelo filled-in with our band, Kuttin Edge, and without practicing, put on a command performance for the ages.”
MENACE, one of our most outstanding soca artistes, and a new contender in the calypso arena, shared that “It is a fact that Edimelo was a father figure to me, because one of his sons is one of the active members of M&M Music Group. He was a mentor, and someone that we could always count on to give us a few tips on how to progress in the calypso or soca arenas. So, today is a sad day for everyone, and we are just sending him off in grand style.”
A childhood friend of Edimelo’s from Christian Street in Grays Farm, Cheryl Brown, spoke lovingly and tenderly about our cultural icon and national treasure. Said she, “I knew Edimelo since we were small. He was a friendly person, always making jokes with me. And the last time that we met was at Roadhouse recently, and after he finished singing his songs, he came and touched me on my shoulder and we laughed. I feel so sad! I extend my sympathy to his entire family. He is gone too soon, but his work will live on.” Indeed!
We here at NEWSCO certainly join with all those who loved our fallen brother in extending our heartfelt condolences to his entire family. When Melo died, a piece of us died with him. Our Managing Director, Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts, recently spoke fondly of Edimelo’s charisma as a performer. Serpent recalled an international event in the United States that was about to flop until the promoters called Edimelo to the stage, and the rest became bacchanal history. Such was his incredible talent! Our Station Manager, Dave Lester Payne, a longtime calypso promoter, on Thursday’s CONNECTING WITH DAVE LESTER PAYNE, hosted a nostalgic two-hour special that featured Miles Browne, an eminent collaborator with Edimelo. Together, Payne and Browne played some of the great selections from Melo’s amazing discography, even as they fielded calls of love for the king from a heartbroken citizenry. Darren Matthew-Ward, he of our popular Observer AM radio programme, played a moving tribute by Eugene ‘Kaseba’ Silcott, who, speaking on behalf of the Kaiso Cooperative, highlighted Melo’s virtuoso. Kaseba also spoke of the plea from the heavenly hosts of the Great Beyond, DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON OUR CULTURE. Our VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast, in the very early days after Edimelo’s untimely passing, featured the aforementioned Dalma ‘Boogie’ George, Gavin Christopher and Sam Roberts, all exceptional musicians in their own right, paying odes to this larger-than-life figure who strode across the calypso stage and left us clamouring for more.
Yesterday morning, even as the divine music and singing at the Cathedral wafted our hearts heavenwards, it was not difficult to imagine that Edimelo was standing astride the battlements of heaven, looking down approvingly. After all, he loved good singing and good music, and had a deep and abiding passion for our culture. As Kaseba declared in his tribute, “We as calypsonians will continue to be the vanguard of his excellence . . .”
Antigua and Barbuda has lost one of its brightest lights, and we are all the poorer for it. But his wonderful life and legacy lives on; none of it will be interred with his bones. Whenever we hear DON’T STOP THIS PARTY (a remix with the Mighty Swallow) or IN DE PANYARD (an encomium to the joys of pan music), we will remember Edimelo. We will remember his warm and affable personality, his generosity of spirit, his terrific sense of humour, his smooth and enchanting tenor, his sartorial splendour (he was always impeccably clad, and knew how to make an entrance), and his megawatt smile. When Edimelo laughed and smiled, the whole world laughed and smiled with him. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. As Laurence Binyon declares in his memoriam classic, FOR THE FALLEN, “He shall grow not old as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn. To the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him.” Sleep in peace, Melo! Your remarkable life and legacy lives on. . .
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