December 16th, 2020 marks the 30th death anniversary of Johnny Mykoo of Kingston, Jamaica (West Indies).
These video clips were captured in 1989 at a Hindu wedding in Kingston, Jamaica.
Video/clips courtesy of Roshan an Fiona Ramdeen (UK).
Singer and Manjeera:Johnny Mykoo
Sarangie: Clifford Thompson (Buchkun)
Dholak (Drummer): John Thompson
Nachaniya Dancer: Cheeni
Johnny Mykoo was very much instrumental in sustaining and promoting Indian music/ culture in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Short history of his life:
Johnny Mykoo was born in Bacham Pen (Spanish Town Road), Kingston, Jamaica on 9th February 1941, one of five sons and five daughters of Alice (Bagmani) and Rambali Mykoo. His parents were devote Hindus and he grew up inspired by their religious values.
As a child, he was often seen participating in Hindu rituals such as pujas and often joked about his delight of blowing the conch shell during the Arti ceremony.
He was also the local Nachania dancer, taught by “little Jesus” of Bacham Penn.
During the Indian/Muslim festival of “Hosay” he was also seen playing sword fighting in the celebrations.
He was married to Pearlina Baccas, and they had their first child, Yvonne in the Cockburn Gardens area, Kingston.
Johnny Mykoo also had his first son with Maude Lindo (White), whom they named Donald (1960).
Johnny went on to learn the trade as professional Barber and eventally moved with his wife Pearlina to the UK in the early 1960, where he opened his first Barber and Record shop in Leeds. While living in England they had three more children: Philip, Trevor and Christine.
During his time in England, he had a dream from a Sadhu (an old Hindu sage) to return to Jamaica to produce and promote Indian music/culture.
He eventually returned to Jamaica with the family in 1971. During this time, he opened up his Jewellery business, and the family expanded with three more children: Richard, Jason and Steve.
Sadly, in 1981 his wife passed away though he went on to remarry and had another son, Surrug.
He became an international sensation touring Trinidad and the United Kingdom on many cultural events. During this time, he founded and directed the Raja Sarangie Group.
During his recording career, he had recorded 52 tracks:
18 tracks featured on Singles (45rpm):
Raam Ko, Madu Banko, Gopal, Bharat, Preetam Tore, Prame, Bangala, Aanko, Yanga Na, Paja, Krsna, Dill, Gosiya, Raja Tore, Raat Ko, Jaan Ki, Phool, Raam Latan.
12 tracks on Hum Jaani – LP (Johnny Mykoo)
9 tracks on Best of Johnny Mykoo – LP
2 tracks on Pleasure for the Soul – Raja Sarangie Group – LP
2 tracks ( Krishna Ko Sang & Bola Baba Ho) on Jaghai’s label
1 track ( Panchi Akela) on Jaghai’s Label
1 track ( Pardesiya) – Jaghai’s Label
2 tracks (Krishna Co & Bola) – Jaghai’s Label
1 track (Raja Tore) – Jaghai’s Label
2 tracks (Raja Janakaji & Banse Bajay) – Jaghai’s Label
2 tracks (Tumahi Anokha) – Jaghai’ s Label.
Total Tracks= 52
Sadly, Johnny Mykoo died in Jamaica on 16th December 1990 in a car accident while returning from an Indian function. The Indo-Jamaican community were shocked and stunned at this great loss and still mourn Jamaica’s greatest Indian talent today. His memory lives on through his work and dedication to Indian music and today, the Raja Sarangie Group continues to perform under the direction of Trevor and Philip Mykoo.
Further translations and transliterations of his songs were compiled and presented in a book ‘Bhojpuri/Hindi songs of Jamaica’ by Trevor Mykoo, Surrug Maiko, Philip Mykoo and Dhaneshwar Jha.
Research by Philip and Trevor Mykoo ( 2020).
Jamaica Pioneer Singer–JOHNNY MYKOO
Johnny Mykoo was born in Bacham Pen (Spanish Town Road), Kingston, Jamaica on 9th February 1941, one of five sons and five daughters of Alice and Ram-Bali Mykoo. His parents were devoted Hindus and he grew up inspired by their religious values.
As a child, he was often seen participating in Hindu rituals such as Pujas and often joked about his delight of blowing the conch shell during the Arti ceremony. He was also the local “trainee” nachania dancer! During the Indian festival of “Hosay” he was also seen playing sword fighting in the celebrations.
Johnny went on to learn the trade of a professional Barber and he moved to the UK in 1964 where he opened his first Barber and Record shop in Leeds. He was married to Pearlina Mykoo (nee-Baccas) and they had seven children – Yvonne, Philip, Trevor, Christine, Richard, Jason and Steve. While living there he had a dream from a Sadhu (an old Hindu sage) to return to Jamaica to make Indian music. He returned to Jamaica in 1969 where his dream eventually became reality when he founded the Raja Sarangie Group in 1974. Sadly, in 1981 his wife passed away though he went on to remarry and had another son, Surruj.
The Raja Sarangie Group became an international sensation touring Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam and the United Kingdom on many cultural events. Johnny recorded 2 albums namely Ham Jaane and Best of Johnny Mykoo and featured on the various artists album Pleasure for the Soul. He released 19 singles in total including hits such as Rama Ko, Bangala, Pardesiya and Krishna Ko Sangh and strived to sustain the Indo-Jamaican culture by contributing to the development of Indian music in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Sadly, Johnny Mykoo died in Jamaica on 16th December 1990 in a car accident while returning from an Indian function. The Indo-Jamaican community were shocked and stunned at this great loss and still mourn Jamaica’s greatest Indian talent today. His memory lives on through his work and dedication to Indian music and today, the Raja Sarangie Group continues to perform under the direction of Trevor and Philip Mykoo
Johnny Mykoo’s Band Raja Sarangie Group
Brief History about the band ….
Formed in 1974 by the late Johnny Mykoo, the band members then consisted of Johnny Mykoo (lead singer), Clifford Thompson ” Buchkun” (sarangie), the late Francis Baccas (dantal), the late Sonna Singh (dholak), Sue (nachania dancer) and Edgar Campbell (promoter).
In 1980, the Raja Sarangie Group re-established itself and was at the height of its musical peak, playing at prestigious events with audiences such as the Governor General of Jamaica and the Indian High Commissioner of Jamaica at social and cultural functions across the island. At this time, the band members were Johnny Mykoo (lead singer), Judith Sankar (singer), Ann-marie Bennett (singer), Ann-marie Ergas (singer), Sandra Mykoo (singer),Valerie Ramdas (singer), Petrona Dean (singer), George Sampat (singer), Philip Mykoo (son of Johnny – lead guitar/dholak), Courtney Bennett (bass guitar), Bobby Maragh (rhythm guitar), Trevor Mykoo (son of Johnny – electric organ/harmonium), Cassell Williams (dholak), Troy Tallow (dantal), Francis Baccas (dantal), Patrick Lopez (percussion), Andrea and Wendy Maragh (backing vocalists), Christine Mykoo (daughter of Johnny – backing vocalist), Chini (nachania dancer) and Richard Mykoo (son of Johnny – nachania dancer). During this period, the band released various singles and albums touring across the Caribbean and the U.K.
Other “Associate Members” who have contributed their time and effort over the years to make the group a success :- Hamrit Guyah, Melvin Bennett, Linton Gazadal, Tawnie Tallow, Alfred Hemmings, Derrick Nacti, Stanley Nacti, Anthony Badaloo, Pactrick Dean, Cleve Bispot, Earl Budhai, Leslie Garieve, Ma lou, Shiela Richards.
At present, the band is divided into 2 sub groups split as Raja Sarangie Group (UK) and Raja Sarangie Group (Jamaica) to cater for the Indo-Jamaican communities:-
Raja Sarangie Group (UK) consists of Craig Persaud (lead singer), Philip Mykoo (singer, Music Director), Trevor Mykoo (singer/lead keyboard, Planning Director), Surrug Mykoo (tabla/drums), Paul Singh (dholak), Sylvester Ramnaught (dantal) and Peter Singh (mageera).
Nachania Dance from Jamaica
A popular type of dance found amongst the East Indians who arrived in Jamaica during the Indentureship (1845-1917). Today, this indian dance can be observed during Weddings, Pujas and Divali celebrations in the Indo-Jamaican community.
Mr Allen a.k.a. Old Joe
Caribbean Hindustani is pleased to feature the singer Johnny Mykoo of Jamaica. There exists 40,000 persons of Indian origin in Jamaica that form a significant part of our Caribbean Hindustani community. We pay tribute to them by featuring this number.
This number look at the metaphor of a house (bangala) as being the body being built up with bricks of the five elements (fire, air, water, earth and ether) cemented by the three eternal qualities (goodness, passion and ignorence) and God (Narayan) resides in its very core (rom rom). the verses go on to describe the activities in this house. The heart (baturi) is dancing and the mind (manwa) has fallen in rhythem with it. This house is described has having ten doors (das darwaja) representing the five organs of perception and the five organs of action supported by pillers of the wind (pavan). It sums up with the describing the soul as a bird and the body as the house given by God. The soul only takes up temporary residence in the body, a time which is alloted by God.
Bangala ajab bane Durgesh
Jisme Narāyan kā vesh
Pānch tatwā kí etnā banī hai
Tín gunan kí gana
Rom rom par bangla chāhe
Baithan wālā Narāyan
Jis bangala mein das darwajā
Pavan kí lāge kama
Rom rom par bangla chāhe
Baithan wālā Narāyan
Jis bangala mein bāturī nāche
Manawā tān lagāwe
Rom rom par bangla chāhe
Baithan wālā Narāyan
Chiriyā kankad chuní chunī mahal banāwe
Log kahe ghar merā
Nā ghar merā, nā ghar terā
Chiriyā rain basera