Oct. 5, 2005 Condolences, sadness and shock rolled across the territory, the U.S. mainland and beyond, as news of the death of Jam Band leader Nicholas "Nick" Friday reached Virgin Islanders and music lovers near and far.
Friday died Tuesday at the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas, reportedly of diabetes-related complications . He was 43. (See "Nicholas 'Nick' Friday Has Died").
Friday was born in 1961 on Antigua and moved to St. Thomas early in life. He was educated at Joseph Gomez Elementary School and later graduated from Ivanna Eudora Kean High. While at Kean, Friday volunteered as an assistant football coach.
Friday went on to earn a bachelor's degree in social science from the University of the Virgin Islands. From there, he pursued a law degree at Ohio Northern University.
With the degree in hand, he returned to the V.I. where he immediately found employment in the halls of the Virgin Islands Legislature. He was first a researcher for then at-large Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd and later a legal adviser to former Sen. George Goodwin. In 2004, Friday, also known as "Daddy," made an unsuccessful run for the Senate as an independent candidate.
Friends, colleagues, officials and elected leaders recalled Friday as a humble and quiet man and dedicated worker.
"I tried to honor him once for his contribution to music, but he was a guy that didn't like that kind of attention," Liburd said Wednesday.
But when it came to music, Friday commanded the stage. "He was a musical icon," Liburd said, whose "contribution has not been surpassed."
One person who spoke outside Schneider Regional Medical Center shortly after Friday's death observed that "you would hear Friday's voice and be drawn to him and to Jam Band."
In other quarters Tuesday night, he was recalled as "a franchise," the nickname he first held when he began his musical journey with Eddie and the Movements the band that evolved into Jam Band.
Several people recalled Friday as a musical giant who juggled his passion for music with raising his three children and pursuing an education.
His band was not without problems, however. Often, violence broke out where Jam Band played. One insider explained at one point that people from every segment of the community were drawn to the band and not all of them got along. But Friday had little patience for the violence, even writing songs that eschewed such behavior.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said he was shocked and saddened by the news of Friday's death. As he extended condolences to Friday's family and friends, Turnbull recalled that Friday was a promising star in many areas. Friday and the Jam Band, Turnbull said, "brought a level of joy, excitement and energy to music lovers in the territory and across the Caribbean. Music in the territory will never be quite the same," Turnbull said in a release issued from Government House early Wednesday morning. The governor said he had the privilege of teaching Friday at UVI, where Friday was among his brightest students.
Although Friday has left us far too soon, the governor said, he has left us the priceless collection of compositions and lyrics of a musical giant that will last for generations.
Delegate Donna M. Christensen echoed Turnbull's sentiments, saying "In a career that has spanned three decades, Friday and his beloved Jam Band brought countless hours of enjoyment to young and old alike with the quick tempo arrangements that were the favorites on the road."
In fact, Jam Band won the St. Thomas Carnival Road March competition countless times, most recently this year for "How To Take De Road."
Writing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Clement 'Monarch' Ogarro, calypsonian from St Kitts wrote, "This news has hit me like a lightning bolt from left field. Music has lost its soul and its voice in the Virgin Islands."
While remembering Friday as a friend, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg said Friday was also a "talented musician, a budding legal mind and a cultural ambassador."
Legislature researcher James Lewis, a noted Jam Band fan, said many people did not realize how multi-faceted Friday was. "He was a real Renaissance man," Lewis said. He also recalled what a hard-worker he was and that he was very dedicated to education.
Lewis said there was a time that Friday was working as a messenger for Devcon International while going to UVI full time and working with the band.
In tribute to Jam Band and Friday's musical talents, Lewis said he planned his vacations around being able to follow the band to their gigs in New York City.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said Friday "influenced the entire music culture." But also, Richards said, Friday "was viewed as a rising star in many other areas. His work in the Legislature and in several other community arenas demonstrated that he was committed and dedicated to giving and doing his part to make a difference in the Virgin Islands.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, in a release from his office, echoed sentiments expressed by many at learning of Friday's untimely death. "I frankly find it hard to accept that I will never see Nick's warm smile or hear him sing with Jam Band again." Malone said he was "numb."
But he went on to say, "In many African societies, an ancestor remains immortal as long a there are people to call his name and tell his story. In that sense, Nick has passed into the realm of immortal ancestors because as long as there are two Virgin Islanders to converse together or even one to play a record and hear the musical splendor that was Jam Band, Nicholas "Nick" Friday's spirit will continue to dance in the air around us and his music will continue to sing in our hearts."
People from across the territory and the globe have written to the Source to express their grief and condolences to Friday's family. You will find those remarks by going to the V.I. Source open forum sections.
No funeral arrangements or survivors have been announced as of publication.
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