Soca King Arrow dies at 60

Mighty Arrow.
AP Photo/Wayne Fenton
AP Photo/Wayne Fenton

The global soca community is in mourning over the passing of the undisputed Soca King of the World, the Mighty Arrow.

Arrow, whose real name was Alphonsus Cassell, died at his home in Montserrat on Sept. 15, his family said. He was 60.

Arrow, who was diagnosed with cerebral cancer in early 2009, was airlifted last week to neighboring Antigua for treatment.

Arrow or “Phonzie”, as he was referred to by close friends and family, was responsible for taking the soca genre to the international stage with his 1982 smash hit, Hot, Hot, Hot – “ How you’re feeling? Hot, hot, hot. People in the party – hot, hot, hot.”

Having won the local Montserrat Calypso Competition on four occasions, the talents of the proud son of Montserrat were spotted by former Beatles manager, Sir George Martin, who worked with Arrow to turn his focus to his recording and touring career, the Montserrat government said in a statement.

Arrow recorded no less than 22 studio albums with other notable hits, including Long Time, Dancing Mood, O’La Soca and Groove Master. He has performed at concerts, music festivals and gala events across the globe.

“His death is a great loss to the family, his native land of Montserrat and the music world,” said his brother, Justin “Hero” Cassell, another talented vocalist and songwriter, who worked with Arrow during his peak years.

Montserrat’s Chief Minister, Reuben Meade, said Arrow’s passing is a “national loss of a cultural institution and a national icon, who was generous, kind and the embodiment of an enduring and unmoving love for humanity.

“Arrow was an entertainer who shared with his people and the world life’s lessons of securing triumph over challenges and opportunity over loss,” he added. “He will live on in the hearts of all Montserratians.”

Owner of the Arrow’s Man Shop clothing store, Arrow also was among dozens of business owners forced to evacuate the capital, Plymouth.

Arrow was born on Nov. 16, 1949, into a family that produced two Calypso Kings at Montserrat’s annual Christmas carnival.

In the 1970s, he was influenced by The Mighty Sparrow, the undisputed Calypso King of the World.

In the 1980s, he performed on tours through Africa, the United States, Europe and Japan.

He was considered Montserrat’s most famous citizen, with his face on telephone cards issued by telecommunications giant, Cable & Wireless.

Arrow is survived by four children and two grandchildren. A funeral is scheduled for Oct. 1.

More from Around NYC