The reggae/dancehall community has lost another great. Reports indicate that Lloyd’ Gitsy’ Willis, considered a genius when it came to the guitar, has died while undergoing dialysis at a facility in Portmore, St Catherine, Jamaica.
Willis was also a renowned producer and a vital part of the Treasure Isle group of musicians and Sly and Robbie’s Taxi Gang. The news was confirmed by his widow, Shakira Willis, who spoke with The Gleaner. She confirmed that the legendary guitarist passed away at 9:40 am yesterday, October 18.
Gitsy Willis will be remembered for his role in the classic hit by Chaka Demus and Pliers, “Murder She Wrote.”
“Murder She Wrote” is probably the hugest hit off of Chaka Demus & Pliers 1993 album, Tease Me. It was first released as a single in 1992 and then again in late 1993. It reached number 27 on the UK Singles Chart in early 1994. The track remains immensely popular and has been sampled by rapper Pitbull in “El Taxi”, by Nicki Minaj and French Montana in “Freaks”, and Omarion’s “Post to Be”, featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko.
Willis’ widow, Shakira Willis, explained the events of the morning that she lost her 73-year-old husband. She said that she took him to get dialysis on the morning of his death as she normally would. She even fondly recalled that on that morning, he kissed her and reassured her of his love.
“When I went back to pick him up, I reached a little early, before 10 am, and the doctors greeted me and told me that he was no longer with us,” the distressed Willis added.
Lloyd Gitsy Willis / Courtesy of Oliver Willis
Willis further explained that her husband had been doing dialysis for over two years and that he had also suffered a mild heart attack in 2020. They had known each other for about 20 years and were married last March 2020. While it has not been confirmed, she suspects that his blood pressure may have dropped while receiving dialysis. However, this time it proved too much for the medical staff.
Many of Willis’ colleagues in the reggae community are shocked at his passing and have issued heartfelt condolences.
Sly Dunbar told the Gleaner, “Oh my God! This is unbelievable! Everyday I pray for him. Up to this morning I got up and said my prayer at about 6:30 and I prayed for him. This is a hard one. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
He also shared that he had known the musician for a very long time as they had grown up together. Sly added that he had worked together on the track “Murder She Wrote,” and he was thankful as that became a major hit from Jamaican shores. The two musicians also worked on the Chaka Demus album Twist and Shout.
“The last time I spoke to Gitsy he told me that he was on dialysis and that he had a mild heart attack. This pandemic thing just grab everybody attention and focus, and with social distancing, I didn’t even get to visit him,” he added. The two remained in contact via texting, and he said one day the guitarist told him that he had an album, and Sly asked him if he could get it on CD.
Another musician who has felt the loss is well-known bass player Jackie Jackson. Sadly just a month ago, Jackson’s wife, Karen Smith, died. He said that if she were alive, he couldn’t break that sad news to her because Gitsy was such a loving and unassuming musician.
“Yuh see like how people seh dem never hear Karen curse, well I never hear Gitsy curse yet. If there is an argument in the studio, Gitsy would just get up say ‘Alright’. After he got sick he became a semi recluse, but he built a studio at his house, so he would just call up people who he wanted to work with on his productions. He will truly be missed,” he added.
We express our heartfelt condolences to family and friends of the legendary musician Lloyd ‘Gitsy’ Willis.