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

EPILOGUE

HUGH CHRISTOPHER MUNDELL was laid to rest on Sunday, October 30, 1983 at the Dovecot Memorial Park in Montego Bay.  Services were held at the Dovecot Chapel.  Hugh left behind a grieving father, mother, three sisters, a brother, two children, and countless fans around the globe.  Upon his death, Africa was still not free and wouldn’t be free for another eleven years.  On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, South Africa.  In 1992 a whites-only referendum approved F.W. de Clerk’s apartheid reform process. On April 27, 1994 the first democratic elections were held in South Africa, with people of all races being able to vote.  Nelson Mandela won the presidency, garnering 62.5% of the popular vote as the African National Congress candidate.

On Friday, November 22, 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 October 13, 1983.

Mr. Norman Davis, Counsel for the Crown, alleged that on October 13, 1983, Mundell was driving along Grants Pen Avenue when Codrington beckoned him to stop.  Mundell stopped and Codrington accused him of locking up his brother for stealing things from Mundell’s home.  Codrington told Mundell that he was not going to leave until his brother was set free.  Mundell told Codrington that when he got back his things his brother could go free.  Codrington reached for his waist and then an explosion was heard.  Mundell died on the spot from a gunshot wound to the head.

In his defense, Codrington asserted that he had stolen Mundell’s girlfriend and Mundell and Junior Reid had come to his home to beat him up.  He saw Mundell on the day of the incident and Mundell called him a thief and said he was going to put him in prison just like his brother.  According to Codrington, Mundell turned to Reid, who was sitting in the back seat of his car, and said “Bite him star.”  Codrington said he was afraid when Mundell said those words and he grabbed for his gun but he did not know how it went off.  He said that on that day he was going for a parcel from a friend who had returned from the U.S.  Codrington told the court that he was not the gunman.

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.


There are many who made this piece possible, and to them I give thanks. Many thanks to Roger Steffens for sharing his Hugh Mundell archives with me and for the time he spent reviewing, editing, and vetting the story. He is truly one of a kind. Big thanks to my good friend Jerry Stein, the man who brilliantly captured Pablo and Mundell on film at Pablo’s home in Port Maria, for sharing many of his experiences with me along with several rare Mundell and Pablo photographs. A true heavyweight in the reggae arena. Also, big up to Steve Barrow and Sir David Rodigan for stepping forward to comment and lend assistance with the telling of this important story. Both men have dedicated their lives to this music. Big up MakaSound Records for their amazing ‘Blessed Youth’ double-LP Mundell compilation and excellent liner notes. Nuff respect to Jayman and Andrew at www.whocorkthedance.com for the crucial sound system audio. Thanks to my friends Andrea Mundell, Ton and Peter van Arnhem, Glen Lockley, Doug Wendt, Joe Jurgenson, Fred, Dubwise Garage, Dermot Hussey, Doctor Dread, Randall Grass, and Inyaki at Basque Dub Foundation for their assistance and continued support.


 

This feature story is livicated to the memory of Hugh Christopher Mundell and Andrea Mundell-Bowen.

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23 Comments

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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

      • 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

  6. 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!

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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