By Brenda Alexander
John “Jayson” Perez, calypsonian extraordinaire, passed away on March 29, 2022, after suffering a heart attack on March 22. Jayson was best known for his song “Drunken Sailor” and for his performance to that calypso, in which he often invited the audience to join him and to do their best drunken sailor dance.
In 1991, Jayson received a Juno Award for his song “Soldiers We Are All” on which he collaborated with several well-known calypsonians. He performed in Trinidad in several calypso tents, including Spectacular and the Icons. Jayson will also be remembered for his hit “Mash it Up”.
This talented musician was a member of the National Steelband of Trinidad and Tobago. He captained the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard steel band from 1963 to 1969. Jayson was also a member of the contingent which represented Trinidad and Tobago at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada. He formed The Legends, a music band based in Hamilton; the group lasted from 1970 to 1983, after which he started singing calypso. Jayson won the Calypso Monarch of Canada title four times and has been the lyricist for several winners in that competition over the years.
In 2004 Jayson created Pass the Torch, a program to teach the art form of writing and performing calypsoes to children and youth.
Since calypsonians were unable to have live performances during the pandemic, Jayson formed the Torchbearers calypso tent. The members of this tent performed virtually in 6 concerts during 2021. They also held virtual tent concerts together with a tent from New York.
One was always assured of having a lot of laughs when in his company. This drunken sailor creator, never took a drink, but kept a stash of alcohol at his home. If you visited his home, you were sure to be treated to his cooking and a glass of peanut punch which he made. His friends will remember him as being always ready for a lime and being the last one to leave.
He loved calypso and lived for calypso.
This musician has left us, but the band will play on in his honour.