Raymond 'Bongo' Lindsay, 52, known in music scene

Raymond Lindsay's friends knew him as a reggae musician and a Rastafarian and a loving soul who was a ubiquitous presence in Seattle's small Jamaican-music scene.

What they did not know was Lindsay's name, beyond his nickname, "Ras Bongo" or simply "Bongo."

So when the news spread that Mr. Lindsay had been fatally stabbed Monday, one of his friends called the King County Medical Examiner's Office inquiring about a deceased male named Bongo. The Medical Examiner's Office replied that it had nobody by that name.

But, indeed, Bongo was the victim reported as Mr. Lindsay. He had died at Harborview Medical Center after being stabbed. He was 52.

Clinton Fearon, a fellow Jamaican expatriate who has known Mr. Lindsay since 1987, said he cannot reconcile such a blithe man's dying so violently.

"He was carefree. Bongo's not going to worry about things, you know what I mean?" said Fearon, who plays reggae with Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band. "I'm going to miss his sense of humor."

Jean Baptise, a longtime reggae promoter and club manager of the Ballard Firehouse, said Mr. Lindsay lacked the focus and ambition to succeed as a professional musician.

But he was a perpetual performer, whether with his revolving group of band members or in countless jam sessions, and wasn't quite an amateur, either.

Baptise said that Mr. Lindsay sang and played traditional Jamaican hand drums called nyabinghi. Baptise added that what Mr. Lindsay lacked in raw talent, he made up for in spirit.

"He was not an accomplished musician. But he had a lot of love in him," Baptise said.

Mr. Lindsay owned Latitude Records, a store on Lake City Way that sells Jamaican-themed merchandise. For some time before that, he operated a store called The Lion's Den in Seattle's Central District.

Mr. Lindsay's relatives live in Jamaica, although he is believed to have had at least two children in Seattle. Baptise, one of Mr. Lindsay's oldest friends here, did not know if he ever was married.

The Firehouse will host a "Wake for Bongo" tonight at 8. Guests are asked to bring stories and food to share. The Lion of Judah and a half-dozen other Seattle-area reggae bands will perform. The Firehouse is located at 5429 Russell Ave. N.W.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Kyung Song: 206-464-2423 or ksong@seattletimes.com