January 2024 Volume 20

KC Remembrance of Kenneth Neville Garrick

Michael O. Walters
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Kenneth Neville Garrick was a larger than life KC Old Boy and much information is on the internet of his post-KC education and involvement with Bob Marley e.g., Neville Garrick—Art Director And Friend Of Bob Marley—Dead At 73 - DancehallMag reflects “He is best known for creating the art work for many Bob Marley covers, and designed the backdrops for the Reggae Sunsplash festival for much of the 1980s. Garrick also worked with Burning Spear and Steel Pulse, and is credited as the author of A Rasta’s Pilgrimage: Ethiopian Faces and Places (1999).”

The reflections below are not meant to repeat what is on the internet but provides insight by remembrances from some KC students and his visits to Ethiopia.

Victor Harris” Story: A first-form classmate, Victor Harris, reports that in 1962, Garrick was living on property behind KC which was visible from his upstairs first form. Without failure, when the school bell rang to start school, Garrick made a mad dash across the road and into KC and his form to join his classmates. No doubt classmates stood by the window and cheered as they witnessed the “Garrick dash” every morning.

Carl Gray’s” Story: Carl Gray was a classmates of Garrick in 1968 preparing for Zoology at A’Levels. Carl remembers how Garrick put him and other classmates to shame with the perfect and professional sketches he made of dissected animals. Carl worked for the United Nations in Ethiopia and is married to an Ethiopian and like most of us, he did not keep in touch after high school. So, although Garrick visited Ethiopia for a while, Carl did not meet him in Ethiopia but saw him about 30 years after school at a plaza in Kingston. Carl hailed him as ‘KG’ and Garrick knew immediately that it was a KC past student because that was the name (Kenneth G) he was called primarily at KC. KG had just published a coffee-table book of beautiful photographs taken on one of his visits to Ethiopia. Carl was proud of that book and shared it with his wife and friends and so he wanted KG to meet his Ethiopian wife who was visiting Jamaica for the first time. Carl was however disappointed because she was in another store in the plaza and KG did not meet her. Carl reports that although KG was from a privileged family he was “grounds” as we would say at the time. He was a wonderful person who got along with everyone.

Patrick Smikle Story: Another classmate Patrick Smikle said that; "for the seven years that KG and I were at KC we were somewhat indifferent to each other. He tolerated me because Stratton Palmer and I were close and Stratton was an athletic celebrity; cricket, football, and hockey. If you had a party you had to invite Stratton and that meant also inviting me, his wingman. Yet, it was KG, while at KC, who introduced Patrick to Stokely Carmichael's - The Dialectics of Liberation. These were speeches and lectures on 33 rpm discs he brought home after one of his summer vacations to the US. To him, at that time, they were less important than the Motown discs which he also brought home”. Patrick reports that “we used to play them on Friday evenings, (actually more the music, than the lectures) on Dougs' (KC headmaster Douglas Forest) big stereo set in the sixth form study room.” According to Patrick, “KG went off to study in the US and comes back a changed person, one I loved. KG got involved in campus and community politics and was almost arrested with Activist Angela Davis Angela Davis - Wikipedia . He called and invited me to lunch when he was contemplating a job with Jamaica Daily News. He pushed the company to promote Livingston McLaren, whom he insisted was one of the most talented artists he ever met. He hooked up with Peter Tosh and eventually with Bob Marley. He was a completely different person from the guy I knew at KC. He really seemed to have found himself after he discovered that his privileged life in Jamaica did not make a difference in the racially-charged US of the 70s. There he was just another black dude. The Kenneth Neville Garrick I met when he came home from the US was a person much more worth knowing, than the KG I knew at KC. In addition to the brilliant visual artist we already knew, he had become a compassionate soul, much more attuned to the travails of those born into less fortunate circumstances. I think his association with Angella Davis and her network of activists, then with Peter Tosh and ultimately with Bob Marley, had a lot to do with him finding his real self. The KG who came home from the US, I loved.”

According to Patrick, “KG was a friend and ally of Flo O'Connor who for more than 20 years was the Coordinator of the Jamaica Council for Human Rights. One of Patrick’s sharpest recollections of KG was him at the top of Flo’s mango tree selecting and tossing down fruit for a wonderful punch she made. “I always wondered where this town boy learned to climb tree with such agility. The soundtrack to this exercise was KG belting, from the top of the mango tree… We nuh know how we and dem a go work dis out which it turned out was from a yet to be released Wailer’s album.”

Well done KG, we miss you.

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