Internationally acclaimed soca artiste Arrow yesterday succumbed to pneumonia brought on by complications from cerebral cancer, which he battled bravely for two years. Since his diagnosis Arrow had been undergoing treatment in Miami and was confident he would beat the illness.
Arrow, who was 60 years old, had to be flown to a hospital in Antigua last week when he took ill after returning home from a doctor's appointment in Miami. In Antigua he was treated for the pneumonia and was said to be recovering, but took a turn for the worse and died early yesterday morning.
Born Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell on the island of Montserrat, Arrow was among the first soca artistes who successfully broke onto the international arena when he released "Hot, Hot, Hot" in 1982. The song led to Arrow signing a deal with Chrysalis Records in 1984 taking "Hot, Hot, Hot" to the UK Charts where it peaked at number 59 that same year. A decade later a remixed version by Arrow made it to Number 39 on the same chart.
In 1987 American singer, Buster Poindexter covered "Hot, Hot, Hot" taking it to number 45 on the Billboard Top 100 Singles Chart. The song was also featured in a number of blockbuster movies including, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Bend It Like Beckham, Casual Sex and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The song was the theme song of the 1986 FIFA World Cup finals and has been featured in numerous television shows and commercials.
One of the most covered soca songs ever, "Hot, Hot, Hot" was recorded by acts from around the world including Indian duo Babla & Kanchan who recorded it as "Kuchh Gadbad Hai" in Hindi and the Latin group known as Menudo. The most recent use of the song was by British electro DJ/producer, Herve who sampled "Hot, Hot, Hot" in his 2010 single titled "Hot Drum Attack." Other Arrow songs that enjoyed minor international success were "Soca Rhumba" and "Long Time."
Trinidadian music producer Leston Paul was the man that created "Hot, Hot, Hot" alongside Arrow and they worked together for roughly eight years. Paul said yesterday he was saddened by the death of his close friend and over the loss of such a great artiste who Paul said was a perfectionist that spared no effort to create the best music possible for a global audience.
"I worked with Arrow for about eight years and "Hot, Hot, Hot" was one of the first tracks we did together. Arrow's mission then was to give the music a different flavour that would appeal to everyone. Most people don't know this, but the bass player on "Hot, Hot, Hot" was Onku from Burning Flames," Paul told the Express yesterday.
Paul said that Arrow spent a lot of time and money to ensure the music they created was as close to perfect as possible. He said Arrow employed the best musicians from the Caribbean as well as the United States, secured the best sound engineers and worked out of the best recording studios. Every year Paul and other musicians went out to Montserrat and spent weeks working on Arrow's albums.
"Calypsonians from here used to complain that I was giving Arrow all the good music, but they did not know that he was spending a lot of money to record and mix his songs. He was also a very generous person always willing to assist people either by giving advice or money. I spoke with him last week, but he was so weak, I could not understand what he was trying to say to me," Paul said.
A statement from fellow calypsonian and Culture Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters said his death was a loss, not only to his native Montserrat and the wider Caribbean but to everyone and everywhere where soca is heard and appreciated. He hailed Arrow's enormous contribution to Caribbean identity and nationhood and indicated his intention to attend the funeral of "this outstanding Caribbean entertainer as an official representative of the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago."