Sunday, November 14, 2004

ODBOBIT: Sadly, Ol' Dirty Bastard is never going to make it to being an Old anything - Russell Jones collapsed on the floor of 36 Records yesterday [13th November] and was pronounced dead.

Jones - who would have been 36 on Tuesday - had adopted a new stage name, Dirt McGrit, following his release from prison in 2003 and had been working on a comeback album for Roc-A-Fella Records.

A founder and key member of the Wu-Tang Clan, the rapid success of the band after the release of 1993's Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was matched by an equally staggering explosion in personal complications. In 1997, Jones was arrested for somehow overlooking the child support payments for three of his children, although with thirteen kids to keep track of, that's not totally unlikely. The following year he pleaded guilty to an attempted assault on his wife, although he didn't keep his erratic behaviour in the family. He rushed the stage at the Grammys and wrested the microphone from Shawn Colvin to hector the crowd, got shot in the back during a break-in in his house and got arrested in a Virginia shop trying to pinch some pumps. At one point he announced that in future he would be answering to the name Big Baby Jesus; and the whole of the Wus were suspected of gun-running out of Staten Island. That was never proved, but Jones managed to pull together an impressive collection of other crimes on his rap sheet - wearing body armour while a convicted felon and terrorist threats amongst them. His jail sentence last year came after he failed to complete court-ordered rehab for a drugs offence.

Perhaps more disturbingly, in 1996 he offered his stamp of credibility to Mariah Carey's unusual career, duetting with her on Fantasy. Meanwhile, by the time of the Wu's second album, there was a sense that the records were starting to play second fiddle to the leisurewear and lifestyle products coming out under the Wu brand. The legal problems accounted for Jones' absence from 2001's Wu collection, Iron Flag.

Ghostface Killah, who rushed to the studio after the news of Jones' death came through, was first to eulogise. He told the New York Daily News: "This ain't no joke. This is real life, just like you lose your mother, or your brother," GhostFace Killah said to the New York Daily News. "This is a big loss, but I guess he's with the Father now. He's in good hands."