Probably the best known and danced to soca record on the planet is ‘Hot Hot Hot’, performed by the legendary Arrow.
Although he died eight years ago, that fabulous anthem will live on forever. It is not just played in parties, ‘Hot Hot Hot’ is one of the most ubiquitous tunes ever. It’s used to signify the heat by weather forecasters, the spiciest food, best parties, sports tournaments and the sexiest people. Much more besides. Nobody can resist jumping up to this gem and for that alone Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell will be appreciated ad infinitum.
Arrow was actually born in Montserrat, not Trinidad, the home of soca, in 1949, and is hailed as the first superstar of the genre.
He first performed at 10 in a concert at the Montserrat Secondary School and began singing calypso in 1967, taking the Junior Monarch title that year. He took up singing professionally in 1969, and was runner-up in the Montserrat Calypso King competition, going on to win the title the following year, following in the footsteps of his brothers Justin (aka Hero) and Lorenzo (aka Young Challenger). Arrow won the title a total of four times.
He released his first album Arrow on Target in 1971 then two singles in 1972, ‘Dance With Woman’, and ‘Jean Under the Bed’. He released his second album, Arrow strikes again in 1972. His third album was released in 1975. His arranger for his first three albums was Ed Watson with whom he recorded five more albums before he started recording with Leston Paul in 1983. Arrow began to fuse calypso with other genres such as Zouk, R&B, and salsa, resulting in some criticism, with accusations that he was destroying Montserrat's calypso traditions. Others argued, his updating of the genre brought it to a new audience.
In 1982 Arrow began working with Paul and recorded the album 'Hot Hot Hot' which became his biggest hit and the biggest selling soca hit of all time. ‘Hot Hot Hot’ was composed by Arrow's brother, Justin 'Hero' Cassell. It was adopted as the theme song of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, and was later covered by many artists.
He capitalised on this success with 1983's Heat album, and the ‘Rub Up’ single, and 1984's Soca Savage album, from which the international hit ‘Long Time’ was taken, a top 30 hit in the United Kingdom. He enjoyed more chart success in the UK with a remixed version of ‘Hot Hot Hot’, which reached number 38 (the original had stalled at number 58). By this time, Arrow was also incorporating Latin brass into his music. Subsequent albums also saw incorporated merengue (1986's Heavy Energy), and rock (1988's Knock Dem Dead). Heavy Energy was his first album for Island Records' Mango label, with two further albums released on the label.
Arrow also established himself as a businessman in Montserrat in 1973, owning the Arrow's Manshop store in Plymouth. When this was destroyed by the Soufriere Hills volcanic eruption, he relocated to St. John's. He organised a fundraising calypso festival on the island in 1996, in response to the devastation caused by the volcano.
Arrow co-headlined Bermuda's Soca '96 festival, and continued to regularly release albums. In 1988, he was given the Living Legends award by the organisers of the Caribbean Song Festival and the Bahamas Tourist Board.
Arrow continued to be much in demand in the Caribbean. He performed at the Cricket World Cup 2007 opening ceremonies with Shaggy, Byron Lee and Kevin Lyttle. His last performance was at a fundraising concert for Haiti at the Montserrat Cultural Centre in January 2010.
Arrow died peacefully at his home in Montserrat with his family at his side, on Sept. 15, 2010, after battling cerebral cancer for two years.
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