Tributes pour in as Sonic Sounds founder, Neville Lee, passes away

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neville-lee-photo-1.jpgFor the second time this week, the music fraternity has been plunged into mourning.

Neville Lee, producer, manufacturer, distributor and founder of Sonic Sounds, passed away on Tuesday, while a patient at the Medical Associates Hospital in St Andrew.

Mr Lee, who is being hailed as a philanthropist, a humanitarian, and a devoted huisband, father and grandfather, made his transition following a battle with leukemia and diabetes. He was 80 years old and had celebrated 58 years of marriage on Monday. He is survived by wife Winnifred, who spent their anniversary at the hospital with him on Monday; children Stephen, Gordon, Jason and Susan, along with several grand-children.

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Neville Lee is remember for his compassionate and giving nature. One of his grand-daughters told Yardflex that her grandfather "truly an Angel. He was compassionate and was always giving."

And that sentiment has been echoed hundreds of times by those who knew him well, as well as those who had just a passing acquaintance. Culture Minister Olivia "Babsy" Grange said she felt a personal loss with death of such a giant in the music industry.

In seeking ways to honour Neville Lee, film-maker Lennie Little-White is calling for the main studio at CVM TV to be renamed in his honour.

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In a letter to CVM Chairman Wayne Chen, he explained that Lee was an initial investor in the station and when there was difficulty in getting the station off the ground, Lee gave up the ground floor of the Sonic Sounds building on Retirement Road to house the first cadre of employees without charge.

"When we acquired the current space on Constant Spring Road, he and I were totally responsible for converting an empty warehouse into a TV studio. He provided some of his own staff to help in the construction phase. Given his major contribution in the creation of the current main studio, I am recommending that the board names the primary studio as The Neville Lee Studio," said Little-White.

A stalwart in music industry, Lee formed Sonic Sounds, in 1979, having been recruited into the music business by his brother, the late Byron Lee, owner of record-manufacturing and distribution company Dynamic Sounds.

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Mr. Lee's son Jason recalled his father's strong sense of business and commitment to develop the local industry.

"From the early days Sonic Sounds pretty much controlled the distribution of all the major reggae artistes -- Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailers, Rita Marley, Gregory (Isaacs), you name them. Daddy also had the Volcano music label during this time. All the artistes loved him as he was very generous with his time and knowledge. He eased out of the business in 1989."

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