Fazal Prendergast



FAZAL PRENDERGAST
FAZAL PRENDERGAST
KILLED IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT. Fazal Prendergast used to say he would die with his beloved guitar. It nearly saved the well-known North Coast reggae musician, who swerved off Highway 101 into the swollen, roiling Eel River on Friday April 1, while driving to a gig in Arcata to back Don Carlos. In his final act, Prendergast climbed out of the wreckage of his 1991 Mercedes, clutching the guitar case that held his Fender Stratocaster, and began making his way to shore, the CHP said. Prendergast thrust his guitar case into the outstretched arms of several would-be rescuers, who stood on the riverbank and tried to pull him out of the water, the CHP said. But Prendergast, 46, lost his grip on the guitar case and was swept away in the raging river. Rescue teams recovered his body two hours later, a quarter-mile downstream near the Humboldt-Mendocino county line, the CHP said.
It's unclear whether Prendergast intended to save his guitar or use it to save himself, the CHP said. His wife of 11 years, Colette McGeough, thinks it may have been both. "He always said he would die with his guitar," she said. Prendergast was on his way from performing at a San Francisco club to another concert in Arcata at the time of the 1:10 p.m. Friday accident, said his manager, Robert Oyugi. He most recently led a group called Yellow Wall Dub Squad, but had played all over the world with just about all the great reggae musicians during his 30-plus year career, Oyugi said. "It's a big loss. He's a legend in reggae," Oyugi said. In 1977, he performed with Israel Vibration as the opening act for Bob Marley and the Wailers at the International Year of the Child Festival in Jamaica, he said. Prendergast also had backed the legendary Augustus Pablo, Hugh Mundell, Jacob Miller, Sister Carol and many others, Oyugi said. He was scheduled to play with Don Carlos last weekend, he said. Prendergast began his recording career in Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1970s, Oyugi said. "If you look back at the old vinyl, you'll see his name," said Sister DJ Yasmin, who spins reggae music Sunday nights at radio station KMFB on the Mendocino coast. "He was a pioneer. And he was a super nice guy. A devoted father and husband," she said.
Prendergast, McGeough and their 9-year-old daughter, Deadhra , moved to Loch Lomond in Lake County from Guerneville last August, McGeough said. They relocated so he could have a larger recording studio in a place where there were few neighbors to annoy, she said. "It's a beautiful spot on the top of a mountain," McGeough said. She said it's hard for her to cope with her loss right now, but expects a large memorial will be arranged in his honor in a month or so, probably in the Bay Area where he frequently performed. "He's going to be missed by so many people," Oyugi said. Written by Glenda Anderson.