Rico Rodriguez, who played trombone with a long list of artists but most famously with The Specials, died on Friday at the age of 80.
The Specials said on Twitter “Our dear friend Rico passed away today.We offer our deepest condolences to his family.His legacy will go on forever and a day. RIP dear Rico”
Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba but soon moved to Jamaica with his family. He was taught trombone by a schoolmate and, as a young adult, started working with rasta drummer Count Ossie, recording more than a hundred sides with various Jamaican artists. Rico moved to England in 1961 where started playing in reggae bands and was used on hundreds more recordings. In 1976, he signed with Island for the album Man From Wareika.
In 1979, Rodriguez became a part-time member of the British ska band The Specials for their debut album which was produced by Elvis Costello. Elvis wrote yesterday on Twitter “My condolences to his family and my friends in The Specials at the loss of the great Rico. What a moment it was to hear him play on “Rudy””.
Rudy, A Message to You opened that album and became one of the band’s classics.
Rodriguez became an official member of the band for their second album, More Specials (1980) and stayed with the group until 1984, working with other artists such as Ian Dury and Mikey Dread.
Starting in 1996, Rodriguez became a member of Jool’s Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra where he stayed until 2012. He also played with his own band at various festivals.
Rico received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his service to music in 2007. In 2012, he received the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for his contribution to Jamaican music.
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