A devastated Kevin Thomas said he knew something was off on Monday when he tried unsuccessfully to get dancehall artiste Merciless on his cell phone.
The veteran deejay, given name Leonard Bartley, was found dead on Tuesday in a motel room along Walker’s Avenue in St Andrew. Thomas, 42, said he was worried and left work in a hurry to go by the motel where Merciless was staying.
“Mi go by his room door and say ‘ER’, cause a so me call him, but mi no hear no response so mi start knock the door. But mi still nah hear nothing,” said Thomas. He said a security guard told him that he had seen the deejay’s car since 6 a.m. but did not see him come outside.
“When him start tell mi dat mi start feel weak and a say something no right. Mi call him producer ‘Seki’ and him say him no hear from him. So mi call Carlos, him next driver, and him say a two days him no hear from the deejay. A last night [Monday] mi talk to him and him say him ago come link me today [Tuesday] because me did call him but him miss the call because him say him did a deejay,” Thomas said. He recalled the shock that came over him when he found his friend’s body lying face down on the ground with his feet hanging from off the bed.
Thomas, who said he began working for Merciless as his driver in 2007, described the hard-hitting lyricist as a “father figure” to him and that his death has left a gaping hole in his heart.
“Mi and him deh yah till hours inna di night pon Sunday. When mi wake up Monday morning him gimme $1,500 and say ‘See yuh lunch money yah youth’, that was the last time me see him,” he said. “Words cyah explain, Merciless is like a father to me. Everything! Wi go through thick and thin. A di same place a Clarendon wi from, a from inna di 2000 wi start par. Mi feel weak! Mi sad,” he said.
Merciless, 51, burst on to the music scene in 1994 with the track Lend Out Mi Mercy, before recording other hits such as Mavis, Di Letter (to Mama) and God Alone, a collaboration with Little Hero and Action Fire. He was also widely regarded as one of dancehall’s greatest clash artistes with his most memorable moments coming against Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Ninja Man at Sting 2000.
Tributes have come in from various members of the entertainment fraternity including Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange and fellow recording artiste General B.
According to Dennis Brooks, the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s senior communications strategist, there were no apparent signs of untoward interference. He said only the results of the autopsy will be able to clarify the artiste’s cause of death, but, for now, the intervention of third parties in the death is excluded and “the JCF is treating it as sudden death.”