Mr. Radley Gourzong
Radley Gourzong has been a household name in music for decades and was one of Cayman’s finest fiddlers. He was the last of the great fiddlers of Cayman and had the distinction of performing at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, after which he was given the keys to the City. Mr. Radley, as he was popularly known, performed all over the Cayman Islands, first as a soloist and later with his group. “Radley Gourzong and the Happy Boys”. His audience included Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Philip, and the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Alexandra. Among his many awards are the CNCF Heritage Award, for pioneering work in cultural heritage, and the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honor.
Albert Radley Gourzong was born in 1921 in the district of East End. He attended the Government Elementary School and, after graduation, worked in several jobs until 1941 when, at the age of 20, he made his first trip to sea on the Majestic #2. It was not a happy experience. On September 27, a hurricane made down on the schooner, which parted her moorings and wrecked on a nearby reef. Luckily, Radley and eighteen others had sensed the danger and opted to go ashore, however twenty-two of his fellow sailors were lost. He joined the Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIP) in 1945 and served with distinction between 1945 and 1947, and 1954 to 1977 when he retired. He stayed on with the RCIP, managing the uniform shop until 1985.
The music of Mr. Radley along with Aunt Julia Hydes is available for purchase for $20.00KYD from the CNCF Shop. The sound of the arrangements in many of the old-time tunes featured is centred around the fiddle and drum, with accents added using
tambourines, scrubbing tubs, bottles and other implements.