Roland Prince Sunday November 8, 2015 at OJ's Restaurant (Alexis Ryan via youtube.com)
Antiguan and Barbuda’s world famous jazz musician, Roland Prince, died Friday night at the age 69.
Prince was universally considered one of the greatest jazz guitarists in the world.
He was active on the world stage in the 1960’s and 1970’s before returning to his home in Antigua & Barbuda.
Many thought he had disappeared from the music scene, however, he continued to influence and support young artists and other musicians as an arranger and performer.
He remained active on the music scene in Antigua and across the Caribbean playing jazz with the Roland Prince Quartet.
“A lot, a lot, a lot of musicians here in Antigua learned a lot from Roland. Even me, even though I’m good, he showed me a couple things, along with my older brother – couple of my brothers well,” is how his colleague musician Tyrone Mason remembered Prince, who says he and Prince have been friends since they were children in school.
“We’ve been to St John’s Boys School for awhile. A lot of people don’t know Roland Prince from my school days. Me and him were in the same class. Roland Prince had a lot of talent and skill, not only for music.
“At his age, he was one of the best artists – drawing artists – in the school. I used to be amazed,” Mason recalls.
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Paul Chet Greene also paid tribute to the late musician, saying his sentiments were on behalf of the prime minister and the entire country.
“Roland was a true son of the soil, who did make a name for himself internationally with respect to the art skills in the music business, especially on the guitar.
“I think his memory will live on in terms of the jazz genre of music and his international engagement, which made all Antiguans and Barbudans proud, so its a very sad moment, a very sad time for Antigua and Barbuda,” the minister said.
A relative of Prince and fellow musician of note in his own right, Rawdon Edwards, also paid tribute.
“Roland, to me, was definitely the most recognized, internationlly, musician from Antigua and Barbuda. Roland, at some point in the past, was rated… one or two in the world as a guitar player. He was a fantastic musician…. He was like a walking encyclopedia musically.
So sad, so sad that he had to leave us,” Edwards said.
Elvin Jones (drums), Dave Williams (bass), Roland Prince (guitar), Frank Ippolito (percussion), Kenny Barron (piano), Frank Foster, Steve Grossman (sax)
Vanguard Album: New Agenda (1975)