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“GREAT TRIBULATION”: The Life and Times of Hugh Mundell

PART FOUR:  “DAY OF JUDGEMENT”

October 4, 1983.  “I was there you know,” Reid begins telling the story to Roger Steffens during a 1985 interview.  “When Hugh Mundell was murdered.  I was in the car.  Hugh and I went down to Montego Bay to spend some time with his mother.  When we leave and come up back to Kingston he went up to his home upon the hill, and I went to my house in Waterhouse.   And then, he came back down in the night and tell me when he went up to his house he saw his window came out, and his stove disappear and his blender and all those things.   So the next day I and him went up to his home, and some people from next door show us that they saw a guy walkin’ from over Mundell’s premises with a suitcase in his hand.   And to the description that we get, we get to find out which guy it is. Then Mundell go to the guy and try to talk to him peaceful about this thing and the guy pretendin’ like he don’t know about it.

Junior Reid (Photo: Brian Jahn)

Junior Reid (Photo: Brian Jahn)

As Reid explains in painstaking detail, Mundell asks the guy to come into the car so that they can drive around and “ask somebody something.”  The guy gets in the car.  They drive to the police station and Mundell turns the guy in to the police.  He is arrested because, according to Reid, “the police they know him as a housebreaker and t’ing.”

Two days later, Mundell and Reid go to collect some money owed them by a local promoter.  The promoter tells them that he expects the money to come any time.  So the two leave and decide to return later.  Upon returning to the promoter’s house, Mundell is paid the money owed him and he and Reid head back to Waterhouse.  However, while they are leaving the promoter’s house they see a guy “walk out in the street and flag down the car.”  Mundell stops the car only to then realize that this is the brother of the guy they turned in to the police.

Reid continues with his story:

“So this guy came to the car now and him say, ‘Mundell, where is my brother?’

“So Mundell said ‘Well, your brother is in custody and I not gonna let him go until I get my things.’  

“Mundell’s lady was in the front of the car, I was in the back of the car, and Mundell was on the right-hand side.

“So the guy say ‘Well if I can’t get my brother, you ain’t gonna leave here.’

“So Mundell say ‘What you talking about?  I have to get back my things before I let your brother loose.’

“So Mundell was trying to drive up caw the guy was there in a lot of argument and t’ing.  So Mundell was trying to drive off, and the guy just go inna his waist and come up with a gun and just fire the shot.  And when he fired the shot now, the car just drive away, though he was aiming at Mundell like this, he was at the front of the window, over the left-hand side, with Mundell on the right-hand side.  So the gun aiming at Mundell wife face.

“So while he shuffle for his gun, and Mundell step on the gas, the car kind of move off.  But though it was an automatic car and it was straggling, it didn’r pick up the ride at the time.  So while Mundell step on the gas, the car kind of make a jerk, and the guy ease out him gun.  So to move the car, Mundell kind of slide him out of his range from the front of the car, so it reach down to my window at the back on the left-hand side.  So when the guy fire the shot, it lick out the back door glass on the left-hand side, and hit Mundell slant-way so, into his head.  So same time I just get down betwixt inna the back, so the car swing into the banking, run up into the fence.  And I just keep laying down inna the back of the car.  And then I see blood running all about inna de car, just some clot-up blood and all dem t’ings.”

As Reid describes, he lay there for a while and plays dead.  He then takes off running, jumps a truck to the police station, and brings the police back to the scene of the murder.  Reid stays at the hospital at Mundell’s side from 5 p.m. until just after 5 a.m. when Mundell is removed from life support, his brain too badly damaged to continue living this life.  He was 21.

I’m reminded of Mundell’s own words, which make up the verse in his song “24 Hours a Day:”

“The world goes ‘round, 24 hours a day.
And when it comes to night,
I’ll start to pray.
This is what I say when I pray:
I pray that you come by my side,
And close to me, and a never say bye.”
Hugh Mundell – “24 Hours a Day”

 

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Comments

  1. Peter van Arnhem says:

    How do I enter this works rasta?

    Bless Peter

  2. Great works Michael. Super informative and hits heavy to the heart as I love Mundell heaps. And thanks to all your contributors especially Roger.

    1. Many thanks for everything Dub.

  3. Leo Lion Hearted says:

    Hands down the best piece on the blessed youth! One ting : what happened to his killer? Was he tried?

  4. Milton Noones says:

    Good article. Didn’t know he was nicknamed the iceberg! Seemed a bit flaky about touring and showing up. Not a good way to run a career. It’s sad how many talented Jamaican artists have premature and tragic ends. The list is long.

  5. Sista Nyah Ites says:

    Big Respect . Was great to read <3 Very intresting

  6. indeo irie says:

    absolutely awesome article.The is the first time in over 30 years i,ve found so much info on hugh mundell,after collecting so much of his music on vinyl, i,m still deeply saddened by his death.I hope that generations to come will listen and be inspired by a truly great artist such as hugh mundell

  7. JS says:

    Brilliant article! Big up for your works!

  8. Greetings Ras….My name is Sal aka Ras Salvador Navarrete, I wrote the Jah Bull piece in 2000 for Small Axe. Jah Bull was my bredren and sadly passed on in 2005..he told me a lot of great storys of Hugh Mundell and their freinship, and I have always love Hugh’s singing voice and great chune’s! I Loved your story on Hugh Mundell ( I believe the most info on Hugh ever) and always good to see Pablo and the Rockers family mentioned also. Thanks for mentioning the Jah Bull artical, your story make a great companion piece to the Jah Bull story. Again great read Jah Live!!
    If anyone would like to read up the Woolton “Jah Bull” Harrison “Press Along Rasta” I have posted it here for you..Jah Bless http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/smallaxe/jahbullx.htm

  9. mickey rose says:

    has anybody noticed that hugh mundell did not sing in Jamaican patois his English was very good saw him live in Birmingham 1980 glad I did r,i,p rasta yout

    1. Thanks for reading? You see him at the Top Rank? Who else played? You remember anything from the show? Give thanks…Mike

      1. mickeyrose says:

        yes I to the best of my knowledge because it was 34 years ago big rasta turn out man and woman hugh mundell sang time to unite, Africa must be free,can’t pop no style, rastafari’s call and more ..when the show was over I had school the next morning..raspect

  10. Just really coming into the knowledge of Hugh Mundell’s music and legend… And I sincerely appreciate this IN DEPTH article on his life. He definitely had something special about him, kind of had a mystical demeanour/disposition. Gone much too soon. Give thanks, for this info and may his music live on!

    1. And, I also wonder what his problem was with video cameras… Why he was so reluctant to be on them? That footage from the San Fran gig would’ve been golden.

      1. he was only paid for the live performance. He was under the impression that maybe a documentary was being filmed, from which he would make no money.

    2. Make sure and check hughmundell.com also.

      1. I sure will, and thank for answering my question.

  11. DJ Meex says:

    Excellent work about an excellent song writer/singer mate, keep it up!

  12. Leonardo Sullivan says:

    I enjoyed reading the article, thank you. Hugh Mundell is a fantastic voice of Roots music. I was at his show at Top Rank suite in Birmingham Uk 17th Feb 1981 Sir Coxsone, Fatman, Studio City & Quaker City played too. It was an event, a must be at event. The venue was packed rasta man & woman The air was thick with sweet smell of marijuana and the vibe was love. Hugh came on stage dressed in Khaki shirt camouflage trousers and sang all his hits, part way through his mic cut out and we all waited, but thankfully the sound returned an Hugh continued singing for us. He was brilliant, such a presence and command of the stage. I feel blessed that l was able to witness him live.

  13. Zema says:

    Give thx for this!! I’m a HUGE Hugh Mundell fan!

  14. Pebble says:

    Wow! This blog post is so appreciated.

    Oh so envious of those who saw Hugh Mundell perform live!
    Thanks for the description Leonardo and big thanks to Midnight Raver Blog for this informative post. I’ve been desperate for info about Mundell’s life and work since the 1980s. He was truly a mystical, charismatic presence with the voice of an angel, so perfectly matched to roots reggae.
    It breaks my heart that he was murdered, and so young. The world lost a musical prodigy that could have given us so much more. A tragic waste of a young, gifted life.

    Funny reading about his lack of openness when interviewed, but let’s not forget how young he was and obviously deeply spiritual, maybe shy. Nothing wrong with keeping personal and not being a loud mouth or boaster.

    {Hugh was murdered by Rodrigo Codrington. From Wikipedia:
    “On Friday, 22 November 1985, Mr. Justice Downer sentenced 25-year-old Ricardo Codrington, labourer of Above Rocks, St. Andrew, to ten years imprisonment at hard labour for the murder of Hugh Mundell. The sentencing occurred after a Home Circuit Court found Codrigan guilty of manslaughter arising out of the fatal shooting of Mundell on 13 October 1983. Codrington was charged with murder, but the jury convicted him of the lesser offense. The Judge said Codrington had already served two years and that was taken into account when sentencing him.”}

    R.I.P to Hugh Mundell – your amazing, heartfelt music lives on in our hearts forever. Respect.

  15. Fabio Carvalho says:

    Thank you very much for all information about Hugh Mundell!
    I’m very much a fan of Hugh Mundell , i think number 1 in Brazil and I research everything about him.
    I would love to have gone to a live show.
    I would like to know if anyone has any Hugh Mundell concert videos and photos they can share!
    Very difficult to find videos with his live shows !

    Thanks and Nuff Respect !!! Jah guide ALL !!!

    R.I.P Hugh Mundell

    Fabio (fccarvalhorj@gmail.com)

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