THE MAN FROM WAREIKA HILLS: RICO RODRIGUEZ 1934 -2015
Always loved this photo of Rico Rodriguez and his daughters by my bredren Jean Bernard Sohiez.
Veteran of the legendary Alpha Boys School band and further educated in the camp of Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari in Wareika Hills in East Kingston, Rico Rodriguez brought the distinctive and often melancholy sound of the ska trombone, as defined by the legendary Don Drummond, to these shores in 1961. He worked nights in the Ford car plant in Dagenham, did a portion of painting and decorating but had a long standing working relationship with hands-on, Island record boss, Chris Blackwell. Though well known on the underground UK reggae scene, it was Rico’s seminal mid-Seventies ‘Man From Wareika’ LP and it’s dub version, recorded for Blackwell, that remains for me the creative peak of his long career. Rico’s trombone was further immortalised on the Specials’ magnificent ‘Ghost Town’ single and it was always brilliant to see him in the ranks of Jools Holland’s Big Band or Gary Crosby’s Jazz Jamaica. One of my best friends named her son after him. Rico passed away aged 80 and as I pack a box of tunes for the FREEDOM! session this evening I’ll make sure the Man From Wareika is in the mix.
In the mix: