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King of Spouge
Jackie Opel began his musical career singing along to the jukebox in a Bridgetown bar.
This king of Barbados music had a voice to match Jackie Wilson and dance moves which would leave James Brown standing.
Jackie “Manface” Opel was the Bajan booked to support the international acts visiting Barbados.
UK and US chart-topping performer Percy Sledge (When a Man Loves a Woman) was overshadowed by an explosive performance at the Globe Theatre, Roebuck Street, in the 1960s.
Legend has it that Bajans were so taken by their local hero’s performance, they demanded an encore from Opel after only four of Percy Sledge’s songs.
Jackie Opel (real name Dalton Bishop) invented spouge, a fusion of calypso and ska.
This was Barbados music at its best. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh sang backing vocals for him while he was recording in Jamaica, where his career took off.
He returned to Barbados in 1970 but died in a car crash soon after.
He’s buried in Westbury Cemetery, Bridgetown, not far from the Kensington Oval.
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