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David Errol Wyndham Gittens (1936-2011)

Farewell David Gittens

The following sketch of David’s life appeared in the Barbados Today publication of April 14, 2011. The author was not mentioned in the newspaper.

With sadness, I learned last week of the passing earlier that week of David Gittens, known to Barbados as DG and later in life as Mu the Jeweler.

I don’t think I remember DG from Harrison College, but made his acquaintance when he ran the Music City Record Shop in the City.

DG was a man who moved differently, for his whole life it seems. At the time he left Kolij, young men of his social grouping were expected to take a safe job in one of the established businesses in town and stay there. He ran a record store and played in a band with young black men, including Al Gilkes. That may seem like nothing of note now but in the 60s it was a very big thing and would have caused serious rumblings among certain sectors of society. The band was named The Soul Kings and its recording of Al Martino’s Mary in the Morning, featuring DG on sax and with Al rolling pretty on drums, remains a Bajan classic, sadly only heard around Independence.

One of my treasured photos is of DG and The Soul Kings playing at the Prime Minister’s residence in Culloden Road, now shamefully derelict. In that picture Prime Minister Errol Barrow can be seen playing a mean scraper, with not a security person in sight. How life has changed!

As Mu the Jeweler DG was one of the most patronized and loved businessmen in the City. The ladies loved him for his friendliness and warm sense of humour. Later, under a variety of whimsical noms de plume such as Bajan Piedpiper, Simple Simon, Le Compte D’Orient and Commander D’Orient, DG posted some entertaining videos of himself playing harmonica and wood flute on YouTube, where they can still be found.

His views on religion, mysticism and spirituality were not those held by the mainstream but DG was always in touch, his impish sense of humour keeping him grounded and yet always seemingly smiling at the pettiness of the world. One of his favourite quotations reveals the essence of the man – “Some see things as they are and say why. Others dream of things that have never been and say why not.”

Farewell, Bajan Piedpiper. You are joining an awesome band.

Special thanks to Pudding Clarke for use of his picture.

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