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At A Glance
In Jamaica in the mid-50's, a fledgling recording industry saw the birth of what became known as Ska. Created by fusing Boogie-Woogie Blues, R+B, Jazz, Mento, Calypso and African rythyms, Ska became the first truly Jamaican music and by the 60's all the vocalist were swarming to the studios to record their songs to this infectious new beat. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe are just a few of the names who came to record this new music, which coincided with the whole island's excitement about Jamaica's independence in 1962. The core musicians playing on most of these sessions saw the opportunity to play this music live to the public.Tommy McCook, Rolando Alphonso, Johnny Moore, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Lloyd Knibb, Lloyd Brevett, Jerry Haynes, and Jackie Mittoo began working together in 1963 and formed The Ska-talites in May 1964. Spring 1964 The Skatalites record their first LP at Studio One in Kingston, Ska Authentic, and tour the island as the creators of Ska. Their recordings for various producers rule the airwaves, stations JBC and RJR, that is. Foremost among their producers were; Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd, Arthur 'Duke' Reid, Cecil 'Prince Buster' Campbell, Vincent 'King' Edwards, Justin 'Phillip' Yap, Leslie Kong, Lindon Pottinger,Sonya Pottinger and Vincent 'Randy' Chin. The Skatalites led sessions with all the top artists and helped to break young talents such as Delroy Wilson, Desmond Dekker, The Wailers, Lee Perry, etc. Fall 1964 Don Drummond's composition, "Man In The Street", enters the Top 10 in the UK. Trombonist Drummond is not only the Skatalites busiest composer, but the most prolific in all of Ska, with at least 200 tunes to his name by 1965. January 1st 1965 Don Drummond is jailed for the murder of his girlfriend, Anita 'Marguerita' Mahfood. He is later convicted and remanded to the Bellevue Asylum. August, 1965 The Skatalites play their last show. The break-up results in the formation of two supergroups, Rolando Alphonso and the Soul Vendors and Tommy McCook and the Supersonics. Early 1967 Don Drummond's Ska-adaption of the theme to the film "The Guns Of Navarone" enters the UK Top 10. May 6, 1969 Don Drummond dies at age 37 in the Bellevue Asylum. June 1983 The Skatalites reform for a reunion performance at the Sunsplash festival in Montego Bay in July. Their show was a smashing success and the band played more concerts in Jamaica while weighing offers to tour abroad. April 1984 The Skatalites record their reunion album, The Return of The Big Guns,released on Mango Records in the U.K. July 7th 1984 The Skatalites play to thousands at Selhurst Park during the London Sunsplash. The Skatalites play 7 tunes and also back Prince Buster on three before closing with a reprise of their theme song, "Freedom Sounds". 1985-88 The core members of the Skatalites emigrate and eventually coalesce in the northeast of the United States. They play their first US concert at The Village Gate and begin to play spotted dates in Northeast US. April 1989 The Skatalites are support act for Bunny Wailer's Liberation Tour featuring 7 original members: Tommy McCook,Roland Alphonso,Lester Sterling,Johnny Moore, Jackie Mittoo,Lloyd Brevett,Lloyd Knibb with special guests Dion Knibb on vocals, Devon James on guitar,and Ken Stewart on keyboards. January 1990 The Skatalites do their first headline tour of the US with the same lineup minus Jackie Mittoo and Lester Sterling. December 16, 1990 Jackie Mittoo dies in Toronto Canada from cancer. 1991-93 The Skatalites continue touring the US and in 1992 do their first tour of Europe. They continue working towards the release of a new album. 1993 Skavoovee is released in the US on Shanachie Records and in Japan as McCooke's Book(sic). The Skavoovee tour featuring the Skatalites, Special Beat, Selector, and The Toasters tours the US January 1996 The Skatalites are nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Reggae Album for their 1995 Shanachie release, Hi Bop Ska. January 1997 The Skatalites are nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Reggae Album for their 1996 Shanachie release, Greetings From Skamania. 1997 The Skatalites release "Ball of Fire" on Island Records with special guest Ernest Ranglin on guitar May 5, 1998 Tommy McCook passes away near his home in Lithonia Georgia. November 17, 1998 Rolando Alphonso passes away at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles CA. March 27, 1999 Cedric 'Im Brooks joins The Skatalites, shouldering the legacy of Tommy McCook and Rolando Alphonso. May 2000 The Skatalites record a new album at The Hit Factory in Miami with 15 original tracks with special guest Ken Boothe on a vocal track. December 26 and 27 2001 The Skatalites record another new album in Paris at Davout Studios for Melodie Records and released as "From Paris With Love" on April 15,2002. February 2002 The Skatalites begin their World Tour for the year touching USA, Europe, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Russia and Japan which lasted 9 months. April 2003 The Skatalites return to the studio with Toots(and The Maytalls) Hibbert to record a contribution to his new True Love cd featuring many special guests including Willie Nelson,Bonnie Raitt,Eric Clapton et al. March 2004 The Skatalites announce the beginning of their 40th Anniversary tour including Colombia,Greece and Singapore,in addition to the usual global stops. This celebratory tour will last until May 2005. The addition of Vincent(Don Drummond Jr)Gordon and Karl(Cannonball) Bryan makes this one of the best Skatalites lineups ever. April 2005 The Skatalites embark on a new World Tour this year with their new bass player Val Douglas. Mr Douglas is another outstanding Jamaican musician who has played on numerous sessions and his famous A-Team band was the primary backing band for Reggae Sunsplash Tours all through the 80's and 90's. The Skatalites continue to be composed of the top musicians in their genre,as they have from the beginning.
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