CRUZ BAY — Relatives of a popular St. John reggae artist says he has a long road ahead to recovery as they shared with St. John Tradewinds the extent of health challenges facing Phillip “Grasshopper” Pickering and the progess he is making.
Pickering, leader of the reggae legacy band Inner Visions, is currently in a Puerto Rico rehabilitation center, receiving therapy for the effects of a stroke he suffered in March. Pickering is a highly-regarded musician and community activist who helped bring the sounds of St. John roots music to reggae fans across the territory and along the U.S. college circuit.
His mother, Irma Pickering, says weeks of medical treatment and therapy have allowed Grasshopper to move better and enjoy an occasional game of Dominoes. But there are more steps to be taken towards a full recovery, she said.
The Inner Visions bandleader was rushed to the Scheider Regional Medical Center March 29 after suffering a medical crisis. He was transported to the Intensive Care Unit at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Puerto Rico April 5.
Family members including his mother have taken turns visiting by his bedside, overseeing his recovery since then.
Heart Surgery Ahead
Further improvements are expected after surgery for a heart condition, his mother said.
Members of the St. John community and fellow artists from the music scene have actively supported the family in their effort to get Pickering back on his feet. Fundraisers and block parties have been organized.
A Go Fund Me page, launched March 30 garnered support from 718 people who raised $15,775. The St. John Revolving Fund generated funds that helped provide medical transport from the V.I. to Puerto Rico.
Irma Pickering has patiently handwritten thank you notes to those who have lent their support.
“We, the family of Pillip “Grasshopper” Pickering are very grateful to you, our community for your continued support. In his time of need, youve reached out to us with financial donations, calls, encouraging cards, flowers and prayers. As the prayers go up, the blessings will come down to Grasshopper. God is our shield and refuge. He will give us the strength to press on regardless. We are honored to be part of this “Love City” that comes together in time of need… always,” she wrote.
Inner Visions began its musical mission in the 1980, formed by Grasshopper, his brother Alvin “Jupiter” Pickering and Paul Samms. Grasshopper’s sons Akiba “Mr. Snooze” and Aswad “Hollywood” Pickering joined the band several years later.
They have independently produced six cd albums on Blue Bitch Records — named after a valued V.I. native stone — and built a fan base covering the Caribbean, Europe and the U.S. mainland.
At home the band performed for visiting headline performers and assisted countless benefits for schools, community groups and other causes. Grasshopper Pickering is also one of the founding members of the St. John Cancer Fund.