An indomitable spirit and unwavering professionalism- that’s how members of Jamaica’s entertainment fraternity remember singer/percussionist Denver ‘Feluke’ Smith.
Forty-three Feluke died in a medical facility in Mexico on Saturday (September 5), where he was receiving treatment for colon cancer. It was his second visit to the institution, having been there in 2017.
Veteran music producer Mikey Bennett met Feluke two decades ago when the fledgling percussionist was a member of the ASHE ensemble.
“Denver [Feluke] never wore his whole affliction on his shirt. In other words, if you never know that he was ailing, you couldn’t tell from how he was playing. He was a fighter. The man have sickle cell [anaemia]. Sometimes we leave studio and, on his way home, we would ah get a call say: ‘Denver in problems’… So two, three days, Denver woulda just curl up in pain. And the next time you see him, it never came up,” Bennett told Jamaica Observer on Sunday.
“He had to fight all his life… the fact that he was abandoned as a child, homeless. He accepted the roadblocks, but approached it head-on — It’s like him woulda play it away, he continued.
Bennett lauded Feluke for his creativity.
“I remember one time we were in the studio trying to find the perfect sound for a song and after he went through everything in his box. He then went to the kitchen and brought back a pot, and it was the perfect sound,” he said.
Veteran engineer Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger lists Feluke among the best percussionists who he has ever worked with.
“He was a great percussionist. To me, him and Sticky Thompson weh dead, ah two a di greatest percussionists ever that mi work wid inna Jamaica for the last 31 years,” Pottinger said.
The St James-born Smith has toured with Luciano, Jimmy Cliff, Damian Marley and Stephen Marley. He was a key member of Etana’s band, playing on her big hit Warrior Love.
Smith was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 and placed on treatment which appeared to have it under control. However, a few years ago it returned in a more aggressive form, affecting his lungs.
His songs include Soul Alive and Fine Wine