During Dancehall Night at Reggae Sunsplash 1989, unbeknownst to many patrons, veteran Josey Wales had his compatriot Ninjaman scampering to escape what was said to be was a potential “public flogging” from the Undercover Lover deejay.
The incident was witnessed by award-winning veteran journalist Adrian Frater, who was covering the event at the Bob Marley Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay, which was the home of Reggae Sunsplash back then. The melee began after Walws took issue with Ninjaman using him as a subject of mockery during his performance.
“It should be noted that that night was considered as somewhat of a special night in the history of the annual Music Festival as in a widely publicized warning in which attract media attention a Warner woman had predicted that the Bob Marley Center would sink on dancehall night. However, while some fans stayed away out of fear a massive crowd showed up,” Frater recounted in a recent video on his recent Unforgettable Stories YouTube series.
“During his stint onstage, Josey Wales, in jest, made some fun statements about several deejays, including Ninjaman. In his turn on stage, Ninjaman, who had only recently returned to the Island from New York, threw what was considered a low blow at Josey Wales. He claimed that while he was in New York, he slept with Josey Wales’ woman and claimed that the woman had revealed some derogatory bedroom secrets about the colonel including that he had bowed down, the street slang for oral sex,” Frater added.
The Trelawny native, who copped the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Hector Bernard/Theodore Sealy Award for ‘Best Print Story’ in 2014, pointed out that Ninjaman’s shenanigans had made the Josey, who is also known as The Colonel, ‘bringle’.
“Josey Wales, who was still inside the venue, was clearly not amused by Ninjaman’s verbal antics, so he calmly walked towards the stage, positioning himself at the step leading onto the stage. It was clear that his anger was boiling over as he pounded his fists together waiting on Ninja Man to exit the stage,” Frater recalled.
“After completing his set and telling the fans in his customary style ‘mi gone yaw man’ Ninja Man began running down the stairs. It was then that he caught sight of the angry Josey Wales and froze in mid-air. Fear took over ninja man’s face. Without taking his eyes off Josey Wales, Ninja Man began walking backwards up the steps pulling the knife that was wrapped in a newspaper from his back pocket,” he added.
According to Frater, despite Ninjaman being armed with what was a “kitchen bitch” knife, Josey had remained unmoved, and a fearful Ninjaman began reversing.
“Josey Wales stood his ground as the panic-stricken Ninja man found himself right back on centerstage, with Josey Wales holding his ground despite several persons including members of the security forces begging him to calm down,” he recounted.
“The crowd in front of the stage which was totally unaware of what was taking place backstage, must have been taken by surprise when Ninjaman took the microphone and proclaimed ‘people, people if they find me the dead a mawnin a Josey Wales kill mi’”, he recalled the Don Gorgon saying.
Added Frater: “It took a lot of begging to get Josey Wales who had earlier roughed up a security guard for crossing him, to walk away without laying hands on Ninjaman. When Josey Wales finally walked away from the stage area, Ninja Man quietly slipped down the stage like a cautious cat and then slipped away, never to be seen again for the night”.
Frater said that the story of the incident written by him, was carried in parts in the now defunct Jamaica Record newspaper, on Sunday, August 20, 1989, under the caption “The Night the Bob Marley Center Sank”.
Wales, 65, whose real name is Joseph Winston Sterling, got his stage name from the 1976 Western movie character from The Outlaw Josey Wales, played by Clint Eastwood.
Ninjaman, 57, is serving a life sentence for murder.