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Last updated: 17 September, 2010 - Published 10:27 GMT
 
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Tributes pour in for a Soca giant
 
Alphonsus "Arrow" Cassell
A colossal force in Caribbean music
His fans have a hard time coming to terms with his death.

"I am trying here to contain myself because he was the humblest of kings that you could bump into," one man told BBC Caribbean.

Soca musician Arrow, whose real name is Alphonsus Cassell, died at his Montserrat home on Wednesday from complications of brain cancer.

The man who won global fame with his 1983 hit "Hot Hot Hot" was among the best-known artists of soca, described as a fusion music with roots in calypso.

Outside the Caribbean, many know soca music, a fast-paced cousin of calypso, through Arrow's "How you feeling?" refrain.

Calypsonian Arrow had been fighting brain cancer for over a year and had been back and forth for treatment in the US.

 He was one of the forerunners to the advancement of soca
 
Veteran Calypsonian Sparrow

However, upon returning home to his native Montserrat, he fell ill recently with pneumonia and was hospitalised in neighbouring Antigua.

Businessman

Arrow was known locally as a businessman as well as an international soca star.

He set up his own record label in 1973 and ran a shop on the remaining habitable part of Montserrat after the volcano destroyed large parts of the island.

His song 'Hot, Hot, Hot' became the biggest selling soca hit of all time.

Arrow had always stated how much he loved calypso, the precursor for soca music.

And he had named himself Arrow in honour of calypso veteran Sparrow.

Many who knew of his illness had been hoping that he would have pulled through, and fans are admitting that his death has left them devastated.

"Arrow from very early days had that special thing about him and a number of us actually looked up to him and aspired to do as well as we could in whatever area we were involved in because Arrow just seemed to lead from the front and just seem to have been such a dynamo and an example," a Montserratian colleague said.

And a grieving woman told BBC Caribbean "my heart is saddened but God knows best".

A sort of "Bob Marley"

For the calypso king of the world, the Mighty Sparrow, Arrow was truly special.

Sparrow said Arrow's "Hot Hot Hot" had turned him into a sort of Bob Marley of the soca world.

"We all thought well you know we were moving on par. But after one day he came up with Hot Hot Hot, he has superseded everybody," the Grenadian-born Slinger Francisco who became Trinidad and Tobago's Mighty Sparrow told BBC Caribbean.

The 60-year-old Arrow, who would have 61 on 16 November, has attracted glowing praise in the soca capital of the world, Port of Spain.

Arrow
Sparrow sees Arrow as a kind of Bob Marley

The Trinidad Guardian newspaper described him as "the man whose soca anthem Hot Hot Hot rang out across borders and bridged musical gaps, allowing for many Caribbean soca and calypso entertainers to be eventually heard".

And the Trinidad Express, whose headline "Arrow flies no more" seemed to sum up a very sad event in the soca world, quoted fellow calypsonian and Culture Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters' take on the Montserratian entertainer's contribution to Caribbean identity.

""Enormous" was how Gypsy put it, while indicating his intention to attend the funeral of an Arrow he described as an outstanding Caribbean entertainer.

Promoter Frank Martineau spoke for many when he told Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday publication that "Arrow was the ultimate professional".

Jamaica's Gleaner too, observed the passing of a Caribbean giant, calling Arrow "the trailblazing artiste who gave the soca beat an international profile".

A performer from the start

Born and raised in Montserrat, Arrow grew up in a musical family where both his older brothers had been Calypso Kings of Montserrat, Hero, Justin Cassell and Young Challenger, Lorenzo Castell.

He first performed at age 10 at a concert at the Montserrat Secondary School.

He started singing calypso in 1967 taking the junior monarch title and four times the Monserrat crown.

Arrow was a very popular performer at the Caribbean King of Kings Calypso Competition in Antigua.

He was the first soca artist to perform at Jamaica's Reggae Sunsplash.

He recorded his first single in 1972, Dance With Me Woman.

He recorded his first album in 1974.

 
 
Arrow album cover Arrow interview
Neil Nunes 2006 interview with Arrow for BBC Caribbean
 
 
Arrow Master Arrow
DJ Robbo Ranx inducts Arrow to BBC Caribbean Masters
 
 
Nasa aerial photo of Montserrat Arrow's brother
'Hero' Cassell talks about his brother's contribution to soca
 
 
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