The reggae fraternity has to say goodbye to yet another icon in the industry. On Thursday, news has emerged that the very talented multi-instrumentalist, musical arranger, and record producer, Mikey Chung, has died. According to reports, he died on December 28 at the University Hospital of the West Indies at 71-years-old.
The news was confirmed by his brother, Chalwa ‘Charlie’ Chung, to the Jamaica Gleaner. He also revealed that his brother had been sick for a while as he battled myeloma. He also explained that Mikey had been living in the US as he tried to fight the disease.
He returned to Jamaica in 2020 before going to the US for another round of treatment, but after it proved unsuccessful, he returned to Jamaica to be near to his family and friends.
Chung has an impressive repertoire in the genre and is most popularly known for his work with Peter Tosh on “Mystic Man,” “Wanted Dread and Alive,” and “Bush Doctor.” He played both the guitar and the synthesizer. He also played the guitar for Black Uhuru on their albums Red and Chill Out.
Those are just the contributions that he is most well known for, but his brother shared that he played for many more of Jamaica’s top artists as well as international acts. Some of them include Maxi Priest, Bette Midler, Big Mountain, James Brown, Garnett Silk, Joe Cocker, and Sinéad O’Connor.
Mikey attended St George’s College and was developing a totally different career path as he was studying electrical engineering at CAST, which is now called UTech. However, he always had a deep love and appreciation for music. This was fostered by producer Niney Holness who often visited the school he was attending to get him to do sessions.
During an interview, he also said that he believed that he’s played for every band that ever hailed from Jamaica, including Byron Lee, Generation Gap, and Inner Circle.
When contacted for comment on his passing by the Gleaner, Bridget Anderson, who was the manager of the late Garnett Silk, said that she remembered how incredibly talented a musician he was.
Another person who expressed sadness at his passing was keyboard player Robbie Lyn, who played with Chung many times over the years. He said that Chung had been through a lot in the last few years and also revealed that he had caught Covid and beaten it. Lyn also said that he would forever remember his friend as a decent human being and an exceptional talent.
Mikey never lost his passion for music, even when his body was failing him. According to his brother, he had joined in on a live session last year during Reggae Month. Even so, things had been getting more and more difficult for him, and so he abstained from doing any live performances this year.
“Both my brothers, Mikey and Geoffrey [also deceased], were very talented. Mikey started music from in the ’60s when he was going to school. He was very humble, kind-hearted and dedicated to his craft. There is so much more I can say about him, but my headspace isn’t right just now,” Chung added.
Chung’s extraordinary list of credits includes the Mighty Mystics, The Virtues, the Federal Studios house band, the Now Generation Band, Lee Perry’s band The Upsetters, and the Compass Point All Stars (Island Records).
We extend our deep condolences to his family and friends at this trying time.