A Wired deadline just snuck up on me, so off to hit the keyboard. In my brief absence, please check out this excellent history of Tenor Saw, the dancehall legend who never made it to his 23rd birthday. The singer’s violent demise remains one of music’s great unsolved mysteries:
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Tenor Saw was found dead on the side of the road in Houston after a performance he put on in August of 1988. The official cause of death was hit-and-run, not a rare occurrence in Houston to be sure, but the sudden murder of a superstar certainly warranted more scrutiny than the Houston police afforded Tenor Saw’s.
Suspicions among reggae listeners immediately fell on Nitty Gritty—the story was a drug deal gone bad—but the friends’ closest confreres deny that there was any animosity between the two. Nitty Gritty and King Kong both recorded tribute tracks in the years following, in part to protest their innocence in the murder. (Nitty Gritty was himself murdered a couple of years later in a Brooklyn record shop. The NYPD unsuccessfully pinned his shooting on his dancehall rival, SuperCat.) Sugar Minott, for his part, has insisted in interviews that the Houston club promoters beat Tenor Saw to death, to avoid paying him.