Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chef Ra: RIP, baby

A pit-in-the-stomach local loss: Chef Ra passed away Tuesday morning.

Local DJ.
Rastafarian. Cab Driver. And High Times contributer.

I did not know him well, personally, but anyone in the community knew of him. I remember dreadlocks and rollerskates, UI campus, circa late 1970s. My personal encounters with him were x 3:

3 years ago, I meandered past the jukebox in the Esquire, to find him plugging in quarters and hitting the numbers to play "Blue Christmas." I'll never know what got into me, but without request or question, I moved into his arms, slow danced and sang with him to end of the song. A curtsy and a thank you followed, and I walked away. It was a moment. I will never forget it. He probably did, immediately.

2. The night this picture was taken, just a few months ago. Who, with a camera could resist? Might I? Cheeeeeeeeeeese.

3. 3 days ago. Christmas eve, 48 hours before he passed. I was downtown finishing up my shopping. With battery-operated lights around my shoulders, I strolled through the Esquire around 4 p.m., for well-wishing to community friends before I went home to start my cooking. Ah, the lights caught his eye. "Merry Christmas," he wished me.

Chef Ra: Blue Christmas without you, from here on out.


  1. This is just so sad.

    Does anyone have any idea what he died from? I had no idea he was sick....

  2. My condolences for the passing of your friend.

  3. He seemed like such a happy fellow...

    I'm curious to know what happened too. It seems so sudden. I'll keep scouring the paper for any news!

  4. Truly a local legend. He will be missed, in all his friendly glory.

  5. This is very sad news...who in C-U didn't know him or who he was?? His real name was James Wilson, Jr. (link to N-G obit:

  6. Thanks for the link to the obit. It was really nice to see the comments left in the guest book for Chef Ra....

  7. Article in News-Gazette about him:

  8. Wow, you really had a mystical connection with him. At least, that's how I like to see things.

  9. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I, too, am so sad about Chef Ra. His presence will be sorely missed in this community. Who could forget that laugh, that smile...those dreads? He was a very cool man, in many regards.

    I'm glad you have memories of him. :)

  10. Anonymous10:59 AM

    Also, if you haven't heard, Mike n' Molly's is taking donations for Ra's family and will match up to $1000. They also said an anonymous donor has agreed to match as well.

  11. Anonymous8:08 AM

    Damn it, last Friday, he was all full of life. He was always bigger than life. It'll be a hell of a long time before I stop expecting to see him come through the door at Mike & Molly's.


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