The Cayman music community has lost another of its iconic performers.
Regarded as one of the most influential individuals in the Cayman music scene, legendary guitarist Jonathan Ebanks died Wednesday at the age of 58.
Mr. Ebanks passed away at Cayman Islands Hospital, his family said.
“We are devastated by the news. … My heart literally stopped beating when I heard the news,” said Errol Watler, manager of the Memory of Justice band in which Mr. Ebanks played in the 1980s.
“We have lost a great friend and one of the best guitar players on the island, if not in the Caribbean,” he said.
“Jonathan could play that guitar. Not only could he play, he was one of the nicest persons anyone wanted to know even though he had all that talent. He was just so pleasant to everyone. We had some good times and he will be greatly missed.”
Nicholas Johnson, a member of Swanky Kitchen Band in which Mr. Ebanks performed as lead guitarist, said the group had just rehearsed Tuesday night for the upcoming KAABOO auditions on Saturday. They were also devastated by the loss.
“When we finished rehearsing, we took a group photograph of the band and everyone left in good spirits,” he said.
“We were blessed to have Jonathan in the band with us since 2011 and to have received the best of him over those years,” he continued.
“I knew him from the time I was a boy and his playing was unlike any other guitarist I have ever heard. … He was a genius in his own way.”
Mr. Johnson said Mr. Ebanks kept them laughing and always found a way to bring humor into any situation. Breaking the news to Lambert “Lammie” Seymour, who played with Mr. Ebanks in Memory of Justice, was hard, Mr. Watler said.
Despite not seeing each other often, the three men would still talk on a regular basis.
“Our friendship was more important than any band,” Mr. Watler said.
A self-taught musician, Mr. Ebanks began playing the guitar from age 7.
He joined Memory of Justice in 1979/80. The band had formed in 1976 and included Lammie, Henry Leslie, Charles Gregory, Leonard Bodden and Alan Myles.
The band recorded several albums and was placed number one for eight weeks on the Caribbean Charts.
Memory of Justice produced more than 50 songs with Broadcast Music Inc.
Their songs “Me and My Crew,” “Jammin’ in the Park,” “Right on Time,” “Leavin’ Babylon” and “The Pie,” were hits with the Caymanian people. Mr. Watler said he wrote most of the lyrics and the band played the music.
Their song “Me and My Crew” was a number one hit on the Jamaican charts, he said.
Born in the district of North Side on June 1, 1960, Mr. Ebanks settled in Bodden Town after marrying his wife, Cindy Wood.
The couple were married for more than 29 years and have three children.