Rico Rodriguez (musician)

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Rico Rodriguez

Ricogf (cropped).JPG
Rodriguez at GuilFest 2012
Background information
Birth nameEmmanuel Rodriguez
Also known asReco, El Reco [1]
Born(1934-10-17)17 October 1934
Havana, Cuba
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Died4 September 2015(2015-09-04) (aged 80)
London, England
Genres Ska, reggae [2]
Instruments Trombone
Years active1958–2015
Associated acts The Specials, Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

Emmanuel "Rico" Rodriguez MBE (17 October 1934 – 4 September 2015), also known as Rico, Reco or El Reco, was a Cuban-born Jamaican ska and reggae trombonist. He recorded with producers such as Karl Pitterson, Prince Buster, and Lloyd Daley. He was known as one of the first ska musicians. Beginning in the 1960s, he worked with The Members, The Specials, Jools Holland, and Paul Young.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat. It was developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads.

Reggae Music genre from Jamaica

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as "Rudie Blues", then "Ska", later "Blue Beat", and "Rock Steady". It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. The immediate origins of reggae were in ska and rocksteady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.



Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba, and at an early age moved with his family to Jamaica. [3] He grew up there in Kingston, and was taught to play the trombone by his slightly older schoolmate Don Drummond at the Alpha Boys School. [2] In the 1950s, Rodriguez became a Rastafarian and was closely associated musically to the rasta drummer Count Ossie. [3]

Havana Capital city of Cuba

Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

In 1961 Rodriguez moved to the UK, where he joined live bands such as Georgie Fame's Blue Flames [4] and started to play in reggae bands. [5] Rodriguez He also began recording with his own band, Rico's All Stars, and later formed the group Rico and the Rudies, recording the 1969 albums Blow Your Horn and Brixton Cat. [4] [2] In 1976 he recorded the album Man from Wareika under a contract with Island Records. [2] In the late 1970s, he recorded a song called Offshore Banking Business with The Members and with the arrival of the 2 Tone genre, he played with ska revival bands such as The Specials including their single "A Message to You, Rudy". [2]

Georgie Fame English rhythm and blues and jazz singer and keyboard player

Georgie Fame is an English rhythm and blues and jazz singer and keyboard player. Fame, who had a string of 1960s hits, is still a popular performer, often working with contemporaries such as Van Morrison and Bill Wyman. Fame is the only British pop star to have achieved three number one hits with his only Top 10 chart entries: "Yeh, Yeh" in 1964, "Get Away", in 1966 and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967.

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames british band

Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were a noted British rhythm and blues/soul, jazz, ska, pop group during the 1960s. They were also the backing band for Billy Fury. At the end of 1961, their piano player Georgie Fame took over as vocalist and they went on to enjoy great success without Fury. They were influenced by Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison and blues musicians such as Willie Mabon. The group found other influences in ska, which could be heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove frequented by the group's Jamaican born trumpeter Eddie Thornton. During the group's three-year residency at The Flamingo Club, Fame heard the latest jazz and blues from America, and it was Booker T. & the M.G.'s "Green Onions" which inspired him to take up playing Hammond organ with the band.

<i>Man from Wareika</i> 1977 studio album by Rico Rodriguez

Man from Wareika was the first album recording for Rico Rodriguez led by his own artistic imagination, and his first recording created for album release. It is notable for being the only roots reggae album to be released on Blue Note Records.

In 1982, he returned to Jamaica to retire from performing professionally; however, in 1987 he returned to tour with the Heart Beat Band, and between 1992 and 1995 he would also play with Jazz Jamaica, as well as with Linton Kwesi Johnson during this era. [4] [6]

Jazz Jamaica band that plays jazz

Jazz Jamaica is a jazz/reggae music group formed by musician Gary Crosby in London in 1991.

Linton Kwesi Johnson Dub poet

Linton Kwesi Johnson is a Jamaican dub poet who has long been based in the UK. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. His performance poetry involves the recitation of his own verse in Jamaican Patois over dub-reggae, usually written in collaboration with renowned British reggae producer/artist Dennis Bovell. Johnson's middle name, "Kwesi", is a Ghanaian name that is given to boys who, like Johnson, are born on a Sunday.

In 1995 Island Records released the album Roots to the Bone , an updated version of Rodriguez's earlier work Man from Wareika. From 1996, among other engagements, he played with Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and also performed at various ska festivals throughout Europe with his own band. He retired from performing with Jools Holland in 2012.

<i>Roots to the Bone</i> 1995 compilation album by Rico Rodriguez

Roots to the Bone was issued in 1995 by Island Records as a reissue of Rico Rodriguez' most important album, Man from Wareika, with some 12" sides from the late 1970s.

Jools Holland English musician and television personality

Julian Miles "Jools" Holland, OBE, DL is an English pianist, bandleader, singer, composer and television presenter. He was an original member of the band Squeeze and his work has involved him with many artists including Sting, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Magazine, The The and Bono.

Music festival festival oriented towards music

A music festival is a community event oriented towards live performances of singing and instrument playing that is often presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality, or locality of musicians, or holiday.

He became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at Buckingham Palace on 12 July 2007, for services to music. [7] In October 2012 he was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music. [5]

Buckingham Palace Official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch

Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.

Musgrave Medal award for notable contributions to Literature, Science and Art in Jamaica and the West Indies

The Musgrave Medal is an annual award by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of achievement in art, science, and literature. Originally conceived in 1889 and named in memory of Sir Anthony Musgrave, the founder of the Institute and the former Governor of Jamaica who had died the previous year, the medal was the first to be awarded in the Western Hemisphere.

The Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), founded in 1879, is the country's most significant cultural, artistic and scientific organisation: a patron and promoter of the arts in Jamaica, sponsoring exhibitions and awards. It is also the country's museums authority, as well as administering other national arts and cultural outlets including the National Gallery, the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Journal.


On 4 September 2015, following a short illness in a London hospital, Rodriguez died aged 80. [8] [9] [10] A tribute to him by Youthsayers alongside Jerry Dammers was performed at the Lambeth Country Show, 2016 to a crowd of 80,000.[ citation needed ]


See also

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  1. Harp, Justin. "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies, aged, 80 - Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Ankeny, Jason. "Rico Rodriguez". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  3. 1 2 Campbell, Howard (2012) "Rico Rodriguez: Man From Wareika", Jamaica Observer , 22 June 2012; retrieved 24 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 "Musgrave For Rico Rodriguez", The Jamaica Gleaner , 9 October 2012.
  5. 1 2 Campbell, Howard (2012) "Trombonist Rico Rodriguez gets his due", Jamaica Observer, 11 October 2012; retrieved 11 October 2012.
  6. David Katz, "Remembering pioneering trombonist Rico Rodriguez", Fact Magazine, 7 September 2015.
  7. The Queens list for 2007, p. 83.
  8. Kevin Rawlinson (4 September 2015). "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies aged 80". The Guardian . London.
  9. "Rico Rodriguez: The Specials' trombonist dies aged 80". BBC News. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  10. Luke Morgan Britton (5 September 2015). "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies aged 80". NME. Retrieved 5 September 2015.