SINGER/songwriter Junior Byron, who burned up the airwaves in TT in the 60s and 70s passed away in Canada on May 30, after a long private battle with diabetes. He would have been 72 next month.
According to an official statement from the Byron family issued last week, Byron was an experienced vocal performer, whose smooth falsetto and wide range vocal ability provided him the opportunity to sing and perform a variety of musical genres. His funeral took place on Sunday.
Byron performed with big music bands of yesteryear such as Sparks, Strollers Casanovas, Kalyan, and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires before migrating to Canada.
To jazz singing icon Mavis John, the news of Byron’s death was not what she wanted to hear. She said: “It was sad for me. He had done a wealth of work and I’m glad that he got the opportunity to do it. There was an era when we performed together in the 60s. On the shows where we worked together, I always remarked at the voice he had, and how he did his work with purity. He was super cool.”
John said she was really happy to a cover of his Crying’s Easy over the years. It was veteran musician Oliver Chapman, who wrote Crying’s Easy for Byron in 1985, a couple decades after leaving his band the Sparks in 1965.
Chapman said: “He was one of the most talented lead singers that passed through the Sparks. He was dynamic and he could really sing and perform. He was so talented that he could get you into the mood of any song in an instant.”
Musician Arthur Marcial, who was a foundation member of Kalyan told Newsday: “Junior was a true professional, who knew his craft well. When he executed a song, it was always to the highest level. He was always positive in all his deliveries.”
Byron was with Kalyan from 1974 to 1976 before leaving at the end of the band’s first tour to Canada.
Marcial said Byron sang on a number of the band’s records. Some of his most notable songs voiced by Byron included Christmas Groove, The Holy City, Say and Down on Frederick City.
Well known and perhaps the most popular deejay in the 60’s and 70’s Rennie Bishop stated: “Junior was an exceptional vocalist with a remarkable falsetto. His rendition of Feeling Alright with the Casanovas is a classic. Wherever he was featured, that talent showed. His on stage persona was equaled by his dedication to the development of TT’s pop side to music and a respect for music in general.”
Another professional in the music business, Carl “Beaver” Henderson said: “Junior was one of the great, great voices. I called him the humble giant.”
Beaver recalled, together with deceased George Victory, working with Byron when he was a singing with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires for Carnival in TT.
Beaver said that year the band’s big hit song with vocals by Byron was Bacchanal in the City and it was a bumper year for them.