Rest In Power - Cecil 'Skelly' Spence from Israel Vibration
08/26/2022 by Gardy Stein
They have given us songs like Rude Boy Shufflin', The Same Song, My Master's Will, Vultures and We A De Rasta. They have released more than 20 studio albums and toured the world, carrying their message in all four corners of the earth: Israel Vibration.
Formed in the early '70s after they had met in a rehabilitation clinic where they were treated for their polio infection, Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin, Albert "Apple Gabriel" Craig and Cecil "Skelly" Spence played on the streets of Kingston for years before being discovered and supported by Hugh Booth, a member of the Twelve Tribes. Despite their palsy, they recorded important Roots Reggae staples and rose to international success, showing us that nothing can stop you once you put your mind to something. Nothing but death, that is.
Today, the Instagram page of the group informs in an official statement that Skelly passed away in a clinic in New York on Friday (Source): "We are deeply sorry to announce that Cecil “Skelly” Spence is gone to rest. In the last few months he was doing therapy on his right hand and shoulder due to arthritis. Last week he was not feeling well and went to the hospital in New York where he just discovered he had an aggressive cancer with no possibility of treatment. He asked to send his love to all his fans. That was one of his last words. Please say a prayer to him. Rest in Peace, Skelly. We will miss you".
Two years after former member Apple Gabriel, who had left the group in 1997 to pursue his solo career, has passed away (read our obituary HERE), the unique voice of Skelly has now fallen silent forever. It is up to us now to forever remember his life devoted to Rastafari and Reggae music (the band celebrated their 40th stage jubilee in 2015), a memory preserved by countless recordings and live shows, the JaRIA Iconic Award that Israel Vibration received in 2020, and thousands of blessed encounters with fans, musicians and fellow artists. Rest in eternal peace, Skelly!
As the world awakes to these sad news, tributes are pouring in from all over:
"Our beloved singer Cecil “Skelly” Spence of Israel Vibration has passed away. Skelly graced us with his voice on our 2022 release ONE ROCK on songs “Original Riddim” and “Iron”…life is real…you never know what tomorrow may bring; cherish the elders while they’re here. Skelly, thank you for all you have given us…we will celebrate you always!"
"I'm sad to learn that we lost a foundation member of the reggae community today, Skelly from Israel Vibration. I have nothing but respect for the bredrin. Rest in peace my brother."
"My first reggae concert ever was Israel Vibration and they absolutely filled my heart and soul with everything I could've hoped for! Getting to share the stage with these legends has been an absolute honor and joy. I can't believe another soldier has fallen. Rest in paradise Skelly… you were one of a kind!"
"Another incredible reggae ambassador has gone home. Travel well Cecil “Skelly” Spence! Israel Vibration."
"Keep skankin Skelly! The beat goes on with love and remembrance!"
"R.I.P to another legend Skelly of the great Israel Vibration. Guidance and Itection give thanks for some great works. We're all going to sing the same song."