Paradise Pulse
 
The Man They Call Crazy
  Chris Selochan
FEATURES
January 2015

 

Crazy on stage

Shiva (left) and Sephra (right) of Paradise Pulse during their video interview with Crazy at his home in San Juan 

It's difficult to believe that Edwin Ayoung is seventy one years old when you interact with him or see him on stage. He still possesses an infectious sense of humour and the youthful enthusiasm that one would expect from someone who has just burst upon the soca or chutney scene.  Yet Ayoung, more popularly known as Crazy, has been singing for forty five years.

What is even more remarkable is how relevant Crazy and his music continue to be. You'd probably have to be crazy to ignore the impact that he has had, and still has, on the local entertainment circuit. Testimony to this is that over four decades after beginning his singing career, his 2015 hit 'Respect Your Elders' is gaining widespread airplay and the demand for his services at fetes and other Carnival events is greater than ever.  

What makes Crazy yet even more unique, however, is the way in which he has mastered the various genres of music, as well as the diversity of the audiences that he appeals to. People of all ages and backgrounds listen to his music. His versatility is demonstrated by the fact that in 2015 he was a semi finalist in the Groovy Soca Monarch competition as well as a finalist in the Chutney Soca Monarch competition. His prowess in traditional kaiso (particularly social commentary and double entendre) is also well known. In addition, he founded parang soca and in so doing paved the way for the likes of Scrunter, Baron and Kenny J. He is also a famed composer and even intends to release a reggae gospel selection after Carnival. He is particularly skilled in composing songs for the pan and in 2008 did eleven pan songs, a record for a single year. As if these were not enough, Crazy has also acted in a local movie (a 1979 production known as 'Bachanaal Time' in which he played the character 'Pretty Boy Reds') and dabbled in the theatre (which included a tour of Europe as part of a Paul Keens Douglas production in 1982).

Born in Port of Spain in 1944 to a father of Chinese descent and a mother of Afro-Venezuelan descent, Crazy now calls San Juan his home, although he is contemplating a move to Chaguanas soon. He grew up in both Laventille and St. Augustine and attended Nelson Street Boys R.C. School and Tranquility Government Secondary School. He furthered his studies abroad in Chicago, USA in the field of  Economics. He has ten siblings, six sisters and four brothers, but none is in the entertainment business. He was close to his mother but revealed that his father did not want him to get into singing calypso, preferring him to pursue a career as a doctor or engineer instead. "I tried to be an engineer," joked Crazy. "But I couldn't make. I keep a man engine in my yard for a whole year!" he continued to riotous laughter from the Paradise Pulse crew present while I was speaking with him.

Crazy (left) at Mayaro beach in 1955

He has only one child, a son who lives in California, USA, and says tongue in cheek that he was fortunate to have been with women who 'couldn't make children' so that he didn't have 'ten children running around.' It's practically impossible to be around Crazy and not be laughing hysterically every couple of minutes because of one of his remarks.

Crazy (standing at left) in London in 1979

 

The man nicknamed 'the Lovable Lunatic' previously repaired tractors and once worked at a company doing maintenance and repairing  machines. He has also done electrical work and plumbing and points proudly to the works he has done around his house himself.

Crazy admits to having made some poor decisions in his life due to him having a soft heart and feeling sorry for certain people who, rather than appreciate his kindness, turned out to be dishonest. He also speaks about his days as a chronic alcoholic and about how he was at one stage reduced to lying down on the ground in a drunken state outside a rum shop. It was easily one of his lowest moments in life and he recalls with pride how he overcame this addiction.

He considers the highlight of his career to be the recording and producing of albums for younger calypsonians, including Pink Panther, All Rounder, M'ba and Brother Marvin (who sang the now legendary 'Jahaji Bhai'). He has also recorded for Luta, Delamo, Leon Coldero, Lady Wonder and Lady Gypsy among many others.

His 2000 song 'In Time To Come' was his most memorable composition. In it Crazy had prophesised, among other things, that the United States would one day have a black President. He remembers being ridiculed at the time for such a prediction as well as the hurt of being placed last in the annual Calypso Monarch Finals at the Dimanche  Gras show that year. However he feels that the subsequent election of Mr. Barrack Obama to the American presidency has vindicated him and says, somewhat seriously, that the calypso judges should now apologise to him. He's considering doing a Part II to this song.

Crazy's other memorable songs during his career include Dustbin Cover (1978), Parang Soca (1978), Don't Try That (1980), In Man's Search (1981), Merry Christmas (1981), Uncle Crazy (1982), Soca Tarzan (1984), Suck Meh Soucouyant (1985), Fire (1986), Chief Crazy (1987), Nani Wine (1989), De Part Now Start (1992), Paul (1993), OPP In De Party (1994), Mosquito (1998), Put Your House In Order (1999), In Time To Come (2000), Shoes (2001), Put Jesus In Your Christmas (2002), Cold Sweat (2007), Kublalsingh (2012) and Crazy For Jesus (2014).  

Despite his massive fan following and the acclaim which he has won at home and abroad for his music, Crazy has rarely found favour with judges in local competitions. He has yet to win the National Calypso Monarch title but has made it to the finals on twelve occasions. Unsurprisingly, he has had better success in the Road March race, where the views of pan sides and mas bands play an integral role in determining the victor. His 1985 composition "Suck Meh Soucouyant" won him the Road March title that year and he has placed second in this competition on eleven occasions.

Crazy has sung in several calypso tents over the years but his most lengthy and memorable stint was at the Calypso Revue from 1982 to 2010.

In the video which accompanies this article, Crazy shares a number of insights on his life and career with Paradise Pulse correspondents Shiva Maharaj and Sephra Alexander. The interview is informative yet laced with the characteristic Crazy humour that will have you rolling with laughter. It's a must watch for anyone who has ever listened to his music. 

  

 

By: Chris Selochan | FEATURES | January 2015


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