While driving home yesterday, I received an urgent phone call from someone seeking confirmation that one of hip-hop’s most successful and revered artists, Heavy D had passed away.
She assumed that I would be a reliable source because in addition to being a fan of his classic hits such as the “Overweight Lover,” “Girls They Love Me,” “I Want Somebody,” and “Got Me Waiting,” I also promoted some of Heavy D’s music videos during my tenure as an executive at MCA Records and also while working closely with him, during his stint as president of the Uptown/Universal label.
I immediately called another close friend of Myers, who confirmed that at around 11:25 AM PST, a 911 call was placed in regards to an unconscious man, who had collapsed on the walkway of his Beverly Hills home. After regaining consciousness in the ambulance, about 90 minutes later, Heavy D was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Although not officially confirmed, the cause of death has been cited as “respiratory complications.”
Heavy D, whose real name was Dwight Arrington Myers, was 44 year old.
Heavy D is one of the few artists, who I first enjoyed as a fan, then became involved with in a business relationship and finally with whom I made the transition into having a real friendship. I reminisced back to 1996 about an irate Heavy D calling my office to complain about not enough promotion on his protege artists, Monifah and Soul for Real.
I also recalled getting chewed out by Myers for what he described as “limited marketing opportunities” on his album, Waterbed Hev. I remembered thinking, “I liked him better when I was just listening to his music!”
It wasn’t until getting to hang out with Dwight during a TV performance taping and discovering during an office party that we both celebrated May as our birthday months, that we finally began to dance to the same drum machine beat. We would then talk more often, less about business and more about life and our aspirations.
Our talks would be inspirational and Myers could always be counted upon for providing sound advice. Heavy D would tell me that he was becoming more focused on his acting career and wanted to be considered for more serious roles.
Myers gave me complimentary tickets to see him star alongside Laurence Fishburne in the off-Broadway production of Riff Raff, in which he delivered a memorable performance. I would then revert back to being a fan of Heavy D’s, but this time more for his work as a thespian as he made appearances in such films and TV shows as Life, Boston Public, and Law & Order: SVU.
Longtime music biz veteran, Paul Porter called Heavy D, “the realest, most sincere artist that I ever met” in over 30 years in the industry. Myers once, specifically sought Porter out during a promotional visit at BET to acknowledge him for his contributions to the channel and radio as a programmer and on-air personality.
While dating my now, wife, she said one of the things that convinced her that I was her future husband was in 2008, when her favorite all-time artist, Heavy D, walked into my Motown office and chatted with us for about 30 minutes. Ironically, she and I would see Heavy D again last Friday evening, but this time on the silver screen in the Eddie Murphy comedy, Tower Heist.
Hev, you will be missed by many fans, friends, and family. May God continue to keep you in his care. “I got nuttin’ but love for ya…”