By NAN Staff Writer
NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 14, 2020: The number of Caribbean immigrants in New York City dying from the dreaded coronavirus continues to grow with the Caribbean American media fraternity yesterday losing one of its own – long time independent radio broadcaster, Gil Bailey.
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The Jamaican-born Bailey died at 2 a.m. on April 13, 2020 at a New York hospital. He was 84. Reports indicate he began experiencing symptoms of the virus a week prior but stayed home, scared to go to the hospital. He was, however, then taken to a hospital last week but got worse and died.
Fans flooded his Facebook page to post tributes Monday as news of his death began circulating in the Caribbean American community.
“50 Solid Years. You played a great inning and I’m so very happy that I was able to spend a few days with you near the end of last year. You were a friend and my bonafide brethren. Rest in eternal Power Gilbert Bailey. Mr. B as I called you. You will be missed. Thank you,” posted fellow broadcaster Francine Chin.
“He was the trail blazing radio jock in our community. He did set up that stage for others to go on. Your works will be continued. R.I.P. my friend,” added Lou Brown, another broadcaster.
“We have lost another stalwart. Sleep well Gil Bailey,” added Lester Hinds, another Caribbean immigrant broadcaster while Dave Rodney, another Caribbean American community leader added: “Gil Bailey, the godfather of New York reggae radio has died. But his legacy in Caribbean radio is indelible. He is one of the pioneers who paved the way for reggae & gospel radio and for live shows across the New York tri-state region. RIP Gil.”
Bailey was born in Kingston, Jamaica but at a very early age migrated to London and worked as an emcee at the then world-famous Cue Club, where he opened shows for such famous entertainers as Stevie Wonder, Ben E. King and JJ Jackson.
He later migrated to New York City in the 1960’s where he met his future wife Pat in 1967 and married in 1972. They began independently producing and hosting the Caribbean Affairs Radio Program on W.H.B.I. radio station in Manhattan in 1969.
The two developed a unique format and gained a large following for their focus on Caribbean gospel, Caribbean oldies, reggae mix and the provocative call in segment, “Let’s Hear It.” Bailey soon became known as the “President Of Reggae Music ” and “The Godfather” as the nine-hour program was heard every Saturday from 6 a.m. -3 p.m.
The program was later moved to WNWK radio and in 2016, after the station was sold, to WPAT.
The gospel segment of the program became most popular and later inspired the first Caribbean Gospel Music Awards.
Bailey took a hiatus from radio after his wife suffered a massive stroke and later died. He subsequently returned to radio after her passing in 2016 to WNSR 620 on Saturdays from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and in 2019 took ‘The Gil Bailey Show’ to YouTube.
Bailey was also awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government in 2003.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Pat in 2016.