Bristol DJ Superfly has died at the age of 69, it has been confirmed.
As BBC News reports, Superfly – real name Mike Bernard – passed away on March 15. A cause of death has not yet been made public.
Bernard became the first Black presenter on BBC Radio Bristol back in 1978, and spent time teaching Maths and English to youngsters at The Inkworks in the St Pauls suburb of the city.
In the ’80s, he formed a friendship with Soul II Soul founder Jazzie B who would borrow records from Bernard’s extensive vinyl collection (via Bristol Live). Superfly also crossed paths with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Muhammad Ali and Eddie Murphy over the course of his career.
Bernard – who moved to the UK from Jamaica when he was eight – was known for supporting up-and-coming talent, and has been described by his son Narada as a “trailblazer” who “broke down boundaries”.
Speaking to BBC News, he said his late father taught him about “equality” and “where he came from”.
“He was so proud of his roots and heritage and it was so clear he wanted us to understand that as well,” Narada explained. “I knew he was not the average dad so to speak. That is not just me making that up, that is what people would say to me.”
Bernard became a director at Bristol radio station Kute FM in the mid-’90s and later received a degree in law as a mature student. He performed as a regular DJ at the Moonlighting club in London.
“There, he would rub shoulders with A-listers such as Mary J. Blige, Muhammad Ali & Eddie Murphy,” said DJ Smile.
“Whilst in Jamaica with his brother Seymour they were fortunate enough to meet Marvin Gaye in Jamaica which was a proud moment for him, as well as meeting Joe Frasier.”
Pat Hart, who worked alongside Superfly at Kute FM, explained: “Superfly was a connector of people, a trailblazing DJ and presenter and a mentor to so many upcoming and established artists.”
Hart said: “Our condolences and blessings go out to all of Mike’s family and loved ones at this time.”
Mike Bernard is survived by his four children and seven grandchildren.
Last Saturday (March 25) saw around 200 people gather in Bristol in celebration of Superfly’s life. According to family friend Lynn Mareno, DJs from “from back in the day” performed at the “amazing” memorial event.
Mareno praised Bernard for his commitment to helping others, which she said was much of his “life’s work”.