Bass Guitarist Earl 'Bagga' Walker Dead At 75

Bass guitarist Earl “Bagga” Walker died on Thursday in Maryland at age 75.

His sister, Orleen Campbell, confirmed that he passed away at MedStar Hospital.

Walker, who made his name as a stalwart of the Studio One label playing on several seminal hits, started his career in the late 1960s as a guitarist but eventually switched to bass.

He is known for playing on iconic hits such as Horace Andy’s Skylarking, Freddie McGregor’s Push Come to Shove, Sugar Minott’s Vanity and Still Cool’s To Be Poor Is A Crime.

He also recorded or toured with The Gladiators, Freddie McGregor and the Studio One Band, Black Uhuru, and IJahman Levi.

“He was comfortable to be around, he had no hate towards anyone, a real jovial person, he had a good sense of humour. He played everything but he created some of the greatest roots bass lines ever created,” producer Cleveland Browne told DancehallMag.

There is a famous saying that goes ‘talent does what it can, genius does what it must’, and that sums up the extent of Walker’s ingenuity.

“He was a real maestro,” Clevie said, chuckling. “He was a genius but he was minimalistic, he never needed to showcase his true talent, he gave the songs just what was needed and that was hard to repeat by anyone else in terms, the type of bass lines…because of the structuring of his work.”

In his late 60s, Walker became incapacitated several years ago by two strokes while he lived in the United States. He was unable to speak and his physical movement was restricted, but the sharpness of his mind and his genius remained with him until the end.

“Despite the strokes, when he came to Jamaica, the last time I saw him, he could still play chess well. He represented Jamaica as a chess champion. One of his hands was incapacitated so he couldn’t play bass again but he could still play chess,” he said.

The dreadlocked Walker was an original member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, backing many of that organization’s acts.

In 2018, the Tributes To The Greats show in Kingston honored him for his contribution to Jamaican music.

Earl “Bagga” Walker is survived by five children, four grandchildren, three sisters, and two brothers.

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