The family of singing sensation and reformed ex-convict Larry Joe will be bidding farewell to him tomorrow after his sudden passing on Wednesday 24 February 2021.
In an exclusive interview with Bloemfontein Courant, his sister Carolee Rhoda said that the 42-year-old singer passed away in Kimberly with his family by his side.
“Larry meant a lot to our family. He was not just a brother and son to us but he was a father figure in our lives. He was our pillar of strength. I think what I will remember the most of Larry is his straight-forwardness but at the same time his soft personality,” said Rhoda.
Joe, who was involved in a number of criminal activities in his younger days, was on the run from authorities for seven years when he decided to change his life and hand himself over to police.
While still behind bars, he rose to fame on World Aids Day in 2008 after he performed at a government function in Douglas where he was spotted by Aron Turest-Swartz, founder member of the multi-award winning SA band, Freshlyground. Turest-Swartz was so impressed with Joe’s voice that he offered to work with him to develop his skills and produce a solo album.
Through this collaboration Joe found his voice behind bars. He was released from prison on 13 December 2010, three years earlier than his original release date. On the day of his release his first CD “Crazy Life” also hit the shelves. After this he toured around the country to share his passion for music and inspire young people with his story.
Regional Head for Development and Care of the Department of Correctional Services in the Free State and Northern Cape, Gustav Wilson, said that when Joe performed “You raise me up” for the first time, he had everyone in tears. Wilson gave permission for Joe to record a large portion of his first album in the Douglas prison. It had been part of their rehabilitation programmes.
“I’m thankful to be a part of Larry Joe’s life story. Through his story it has been shown that rehabilitation can be successful. Despite setbacks in his life, Larry Joe continued to make a success of his life.
“He was not only a prisoner, parolee or ex-prisoner to me but he was a friend and brother with an exceptional God-given talent for music. We will always remember him, and his story will live on in our hearts and minds,” said Wilson.
Joe, who passed away due to kidney failure, is leaving behind his wife, two children, mother, two sisters and a brother. He will be laid to rest tomorrow, 6 March 2021, in Kimberley.
Pierce van Heerden