Q: By the way, back in '69 when you had cut the album, 'Reco In Reggaeland' for Pama, do you recall getting the news about and the circumstances surrounding Don's passing at Bellevue Hospital in Kingston at this time? You were in Jamaica or in England at that point?
A: In Englan', and Drummond was my very - my friend an' my tutor, y'know, so I remember I do that for Pama. I would say Palmer treated me very good, so when he used to run his lickle clubs an' t'ing I always attend his clubs, and played for him, whatever. When I jus' come to Englan' Palmer treat me very good.
Q: You remember when you got the news of Don's passing up to this day, when you got it?
A: Oh God, when I heard Don Drummond was dead, man... I felt very bad, man. Only because I don't cry, but I felt it very much. Ca' most people tell me that I sound like him, yunno. Ca' sometime when we listen to the music, they say "That's you", but I tell them (chuckles) "No, that's not me, that's Don Drummond". People always - when people hear the trombone they always say it's me, and I say no, it's not me, it's Drummond. So give Drummond his dues, yunno. But there's a proper - there's a regular song that they give to Drummond which was mine, y'know, 'Let George Do It'. They give him, they told the people in Jamaica that it was him, but all my Jamaican friends know it's not so. And when I was in Jamaica for the long time, they still have it in jukeboxes in Jamaica playing. I made it from in the late fifties deh, they still played it in the jukebox. Yeah, people love instrumental music in a Jamaica, man. It strange fe see how them gone... maybe they don't have no choice, you understan'?
Q: You mean nowadays?
A: Yeah, they don't have no choice more than they use to deejay, for the deejay is the seller, the music they're selling. Ca' if you in a the business an' deejay music can sell, it supposed to be the norm.
Q: To go back to Drummond again, I haven't the full understanding of what happened there, if it was of a heart failure or anything else of that sort, the circumstances of how he died... what was it?
A: No, them man a kill, them a kill the man. Them put the man in a mental home, yeah?
Q: Yes, Bellevue.
A: So there's pure mad man, so it must be a mad man a kill the man. Maybe they had a fight in there, mad man jus' join in an' join in an' kill him. Or maybe the guy who was in charge started it an' when the mad man them see it everybody joined in. I wasn't in Jamaica, I was in Englan', but my Jamaican friend them in a Jamaica, "Rico, a kill them a kill the man". You understan'? That's what the man tell me in Jamaica, man.
Q: So the people in charge contributed to it?
A: Yeah, that me friend them in a white guile, "A kill them kill the man, man". So me seh bwoy, me deh a Englan' an' me hear Drummond, seh "Rico man, them kill the man, man". A so them seh to me, y'know wha' I mean. So when me hear him dead it mek me sad, beca' it was me very good friend. I mean, a daytime me an' him used to play trombone, we was all over Jones Pen... you must've hear 'bout Jones Pen (nowadays known as Jones Town)?
A: Trench Town.
Q: Yes, of course.
A: Me used to go over Trench Town, man, an' in a morning time him boil all a pot a cornmeal porridge, man, an' before we start practice an' write music, man, we siddung an' drink the cornmeal porridge an' talk 'bout music, man. And him write a lot of music, yunno. So I used to go by him every day in Trench Town and sit down with him an' read, and when him want to put the lines on the sheet - beca' we had plain sheet paper, I used to draw the lines for him for the music, y'know. So after we do that now we have the porridge an' jus' practice, and a few of the cyclists them, like Jay Buccannon an' Enn Elliott an' a few of the cyclists come in a the yard an' listen to we train together, y'know. We used to play songs like 'Old Black Magic', yeah? We used to play together, man. That's how it was. And when I went back to Jamaica in '61 I went to look to find his 'folio, his music 'folio, after the hurricane? It was missing. So I found out that all that music me an' Drummond was playing out of that big 'folio, was missing, yunno. So when I go up to Count Ossie an' seh "Ossie, lookin' fe this music, man, an' cyaan find this music, man, whe me an' him used to siddung an' practice", him seh maybe the hurricane damage everyt'ing. But as I said, Drummond him was me closest friend in the music business. Yeah man.
Q: Can you recall what his dreams and hopes were, did he want to tour overseas, talking a lot about the jazz scene in England or whatever? What did he want to accomplish?
A: Him always tell me seh that I'll be a good player, and I always tell him... And I said to him seh, I don't have the confidence to play the instrument like him, because I wasn't really... my interest wasn't in it too much, because I was just there beca' it was the best t'ing to do. Otherwise you would be doing shoe-making, tailoring, gardening, poultry work (chicken farming), you understan'. So I was jus' there beca' that was the best t'ing to do, but it was difficult. Beca' when you look at the study you will have to go through, you'd have to go through theory, you'd have to practice skill, you haffe practice... it seems difficult to me at that time.
Q: Too much.
A: Too much, yeah. Too much, man.
Q: But you have to be stubborn.
A: Yes, and the dedication, y'know, you have to make up your mind, sacrifice to achieve.
Q: Determined, yes.
A: Yeah, beca' you can't achieve nutten unless... Beca' when I jus' come a Englan', my friend used to say to me, "Rico, you have your trombone an' you no raise no money, man", that was a big break in my life, for I could've played my trombone an' not earning any money. So that's the sacrifice I made. It was good in the long run, yunno. Ca' most of my instrumental friends, they give up playing instruments and they go an' do a days work, you understan'. And maybe they're lookin' at me now why I still kept at it and they're focusin' on me sometime, an' they say "Rico, how yu do it, man?" Me seh, "Bwoy, me no come from rich family inna this an' I didn't have nobody to go out for nutten, so I haffe jus' try an' mek myself strong". Yeah. You have a few good friends in life that will make you feel happy, yes, but friends are not everyt'ing. Friends are only there to help, but it depends on yourself, yeah?
A: So maybe some of them used to look at me as if I was stubborn, I didn't want to work an'... I didn't want to change, y'know. So right now I'm really feeling good about what I achieved, musically. And for the school who imbedded that music in me, I'm happy for them an' I'm thankful for them.
Q: You must've felt over the years, during the heavier setbacks, that you were close to give it up? When it was tough.
A: Yeah man, beca' in Englan', when me come in a Englan' and cyaan get no work, man, only Laurel Aitken used to do a lickle music session an', y'know wha' I mean, away from that there wasn't any work.
Q: Money was short.
A: Yeah, money short. Yes, yes. And when you sign at the exchange they tell you they don't need musicians, they classify you as a laborer. If you go to the work exchange an' tell them that you're a musician, they see you as a laborer, they have nutten to do with musicians.
Q: You got a job at a factory at one point.
A: I worked at a factory, Ford motor company in Daggenham. Two weeks, after two weeks at night me couldn't take it, man. Couldn't take it.
A: It's rough, man.
Q: How did the album for Island Records come about now, 'Man From Wareika'?
A: One day me get a letter, say they want to see me an' do a recording for them, so I tell them seh I prefer to go to Jamaica an' do the recording.
Q: Who was the producer for it, it was Karl Pitterson, right?
A: Yeah man, them sent me to Jamaica fe do the recording.
Q: How do you recall the sessions? You worked with a lot of good musicians on that project to begin with.
A: Yeah man, in a Jamaica we had Sly & Robbie and most of the good instrumentalists on the album. So it was good doing the recording in Jamaica, it become very accepted, the record. For in Jamaica - out of the fifty best records, they put me on number thirty.
A: Yeah, they put me on number thirty. It was in Mojo, Mojo magazine, the thirtieth best LP.
Q: What did you set out to do with that album, what did you want to accomplish? Did you have a clear picture, developed the idea pretty much what you wanted when you went down to cut it, or it evolved during the sessions, bit by bit?
A: Yeah, it was...
Q: Because it wasn't so much solos, you put in more melodies in the arrangements than people expected at the time.
A: I was so happy to go an' record that I didn't feel much to do solos, y'know. But then when I didn't do the solos I realised I should've soloed, so when I do the live shows I do a lot of solos. But that record was very unique. I didn't get the chance to solo a lot, yunno. People always tell that to me, "Why didn't you solo a little more?" But I don't know (chuckles), I don't know why, it's like a mystique.
Q: It was what Pitterson as producer suggested, or it was basically what you felt yourself that it shouldn't be too much of that stuff on it, the solos?
A: Yeah, they wanted me to do solos but maybe at that time I didn't really feel like doing the solos. But like yourself, everybody say that to me, "Rico man, yu no solo at all, man". And then... you know? Everybody seh that to me.
Q: That album did good for you, you got to tour around Europe with Bob Marley on his 'Exodus' tour, at least as long as it lasted.
A: Yeah man, Bob Marley was... it was very good to have toured with Bob Marley, man, for seeing him an' talking with him, he was happy that I was touring with him, man. Very much, y'know. I was with the record company, Island Records, and they wanted... they always use Steel Pulse, Aswad or Third World to support him. But the people in the company now they wanted something different, for they asked me to tour with him, so I... When they said to me, when I meet with them and say I'm gonna tour with him, I say "Whe yu a seh?"
A: Me no believe them, y'know. In a Jamaica them seh, "I want you to tour with Bob Marley", so I say to them, seh, "A whe yu a mean, man? Yu no mean whe yu a seh". They say, "Yes man, you gonna tour with Bob Marley". So that was the first chance, personally, me get fe travel abroad. I've never been abroad before that, it's my first gig, yunno. And it came through Bob Marley, so it was good. And it did a lot for me, I say it had made me famous worldwide because of that.
Q: I think parts of that tour with him and The Wailers in 1977 was recorded and came out on a 12" with you and your band (*Dial Africa - Live at the Rainbow 1977').
A: That's right, yeah.
Q: Boy, that single should come out again, if somebody could release it. I doubt Island has put it as an extra on any of their CD releases of 'Wareika' over the years.
A: Yeah, who have that now...
Q: Who recorded it, the rights must belong to Island still, doesn't it?
A: They sell the company to a different people...
Q: You mean Universal? (Chris) Blackwell sold Island to them in about 1989.
A: I think so, yeah. So they have all the music inside there.
Q: They put out the 'Man From Wareika' album again about two years ago, and at the same time they did a reissue of the scarce dub album as well, the one which came out briefly on Ghetto Rockers.
Q: Yes, they did that out of...
A: You are right, yunno, beca' I was in Japan...
Q: True, it came out in Japan only, the dub version.
A: I was in Japan recently, and someone give me. It's truth.
Q: So the dub CD is out in Japan anyhow.
A: They give me the CD, the dub. Yeah.
A: Yeah man, a lot of people love that music so much, and especially among my Jamaican friends, they would like to get it but it's not for sale, eh?
Q: Which one?
A: The dub. A lot of people in Englan' in the record shops, they would like to get it, but they haven't got. Maybe they see it released now and get a few of it.
Q: It's a bit difficult to obtain it now.
A: I'm lucky I got mine in Japan, yunno.
Q: Right (chuckles).
A: And when I was in Japan a friend of mine say, "Rico, do you know they do this?" And when they showed me I couldn't believe it. So I have one copy of it myself.
Article: Peter I|
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