Videographer Leroy “Gotti” Thomas will forever be remembered as a man who relentlessly perused perfecting his craft.
The well-known television and music video producer passed away on June 20. Gotti, 50, was reportedly diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. He was laid to rest at the San Juan Public cemetery on Thursday, following a service at St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Real Street, San Juan.
Radio announcer Andre Errol Baptiste, a close friend of the deceased director, lauded his professionalism and determination, eulogising him as “a true master of his craft” .
“The first time he picked up a camera he never put it down again. He would walk from San Juan to Carenage every day to perfect his new found passion.
“He went from ads on TV, to radio announcing, to TV shows and editing, concerts and working with the top artistes of our land. Video production and music was his true calling, a perfectionist at anything he produced,” Baptiste said.
Elizabeth “Lady” Montano, who observed Gotti at close quarters during his many video projects with her son, soca star Machel Montano, called him “a genius behind the camera” when she spoke to the Kitcharee on Friday.
Gotti directed Machel’s 2011 Road March winner “Advantage” and groovy hit “Vybz Cyah Done”. He also worked on the music video for Machel’s 2012 International Soca Monarch Groovy winner “Mr Fete”.
Lady said she developed a close relationship with Gotti, who confided in her and took her loving advice.
“Of course he was a charmer and very humble. That laugh and smile were genuine. I remember him allowing his son who was a baby at the time to be featured in the video for the song “You” in 2005. He also confided in me some things that he didn’t with others. I guided him in things that he didn’t share with others. I was like a quiet confidant to him while he worked for us.
“It is a great loss and he worked right through giving his all. May his soul rest in peace. Peter C (Lewis) always kept me updated with his progress and last communication I had with him was when I sent him a voice message with a prayer for him to repeat while he was in hospital,” Montano said.
Gotti also led the video production for Patrice Robert’s 2013 hit “A Little Wine”, Zan’s (Joel Ferverick) “All Around the World” and Fireball’s “Don’t Want to Leave”.
Roberts said she learned a lot about the importance of visuals in music from Gotti whom she rated as “one of the best videographers out there”.
“Gotti was a very selfless person. He went out of his way for the people he truly cared about. He was a perfectionist in his craft and was one of the few people around to teach me the importance of visuals in my field. He changed the game,” Roberts recalled when she spoke to the Kitcharee on Friday.
Reggae crooner Ziggy Rankin (Khouri Francis) said he developed a close friendship with Gotti over the years. At his funeral service on Thursday he paid tribute to his friend by performing his favourite song “Miserable Life”.
“My circle very small and Gotti was one of my true brothers. Everybody he touched he leave a sense of positivity in your life. He always used to say: ‘God is the boss’. He had a clean heart. That was meh true brother. This is meh brother so we will do this for meh brother,” Ziggy said before breaking into song.
Television producer and presenter Peter C Lewis spent the most time with Gotti. The pair worked on numerous projects at Synergy TV and later at Lewis’ TTEN TV. Lewis said Gotti had a unique way “of lighting up a room”.
“Gotti was my friend and its hard to lose someone, but it also goes to show that our time on this earth is short. We have to make it count. I will forever remember Gotti. I always use his words on my show ‘The Blah’ on TTEN: ‘This is yuh boy not to be confused with its not yuh boy, until next time… Gotti boy leh we go.
“I will always remember him when I say those words,” Lewis concluded.
Rest in peace Gotti.