Q: What about one of the more recent projects, the album 'Rico Meets Japan'? It came out some time ago, not sure when.

A: No, it's this year it come out, man.

Q: There's another album called 'Togetherness' as well.

A: Yes, yes, yes. The Japanese people, they would like to have me in Japan all the time.

Q: (Chuckles)

A: They are some of my greatest fans, I cyaan believe it. Like when I was with The Specials, I had made contact with most of the promoters, and the people love me in Japan so much, man. I could make a living out of music over there. But it's to show you again I appreciate Jools so much, I show him my appreciation that I stay with him. Ca' I have never stayed with a band as long as that.

Q: How long now, about ten years?

A: Me deh with Jools about thirteen years, man.

Q: Thirteen years? Wow.

A: Thirteen years, yes. And other bands I have only stayed for a year or six months an' come home. But this band I have been with it maybe thirteen years. So even though I'm with Jools' band, Jools allows me to go an' do other gigs, yunno.

Q: What about this anthology, a double CD, for Trojan that came out a while back, 'Trombone Man', did you get compensated for this?

A: They say to me that they realised that I've been in this business a long time that they will do this release an' they will do so an' so. No, I don't write nutten down 'pon a document, jus' word of mouth. But they have to come forward with anything yet, so I don't know... I jus' leave them to their own concepts, yunno. Sayin' something is one, but doing something is two different things.

Q: Exactly.

A: So, since they released that one they don't tell me nutten yet.

Q: It's typical.

A: Like whe I do a recordin' with Count Ossie fe a record company in America name Moodie, 'Rasta Vibration'. 'Rasta Vibration' something, and my friend go to America an' bring back the album an' show me the other day, me haven't been paid, man.

Q: Yeah, heard it before.

A: And the guy's releasin' it in Miami, man. I haven't been paid. So recently, when it comes to recording, I only gonna go to the studio with Jools Holland. When you record with Jools Holland in the studio, they give you a document at the same time and you sign it, OK? So where Jools Holland is concerned everything is upfront, y'know. The record companies with the record, they have nutten to give you, man.

Q: The 'Trombone Man' album contains music with Duke Reid All Stars...

A: Yeah, and they say them will give you some money, them no... I don't know how long this been released, sah?

Q: It came out about two years ago.

A: Yes, them no give me nutten, sah. So I wonder if them wait fe me dead, eh? Them have a way in life...

Q: No conscience.

A: No! When you dead them talk a whole heap a t'ing 'bout you, y'know, an' them tryin' to be nice to you when you die. The dead man cyaan hear nutten!

Q: Right.

A: So these people are people who honour you when you're dead, them don't need the reality! They are a firm company, if them don't doin' good an' t'ings doing bad, a next set of people will buy this company, a so it go! But I and I na goin' mek them use me any more, no. That is finished where I'm concerned. And if them ask me to do a session with them, differently, them not goin' to like what I'm gonna tell them. So, I'm off their list, complete. But I'm still hopin' one day to hear from them what they're doin' about what they tell me. Word of mouth, they didn't sign the documentation. Yeah.

Q: They sure owe you some money.

A: Yeah man, Trojan owe me some money.

Q: They put a lot of different phases of your career on it, like Rico's Combo.

A: Yeah, when deh a Englan' me play with a lot of musician a Englan', and most of them musician them is retired, them no bother with it no more. Yeah, when we jus' come a Englan' me do a lotta recordings with a lot of different people. Yeah.

Q: Here is Rico & The Rhythm Aces.

A: That's right, yeah.

Q: And the Rudies.

A: Rico & The Rudies, yeah. We play with a lot of different group in a Englan'.

Q: What became of the members of the Rudies?

A: Some a them gone a Jamaica and some a them gone solo, and some a them retire.

Q: I think it's more or less the same band, the Rudies became Greyhound later on.

A: Yeah, with Binns. They become Greyhound after. Yeah.

Q: And there's Joe Mansano, Joe's All Stars.

A: Yeah, all Joe Mansano deh now, Joe Mansano put him name 'pon all dem music. A me play the trombone, yunno, an' every tune 'pon the CD, or 'pon the LP, you see dem name 'pon it. Is like the Moodies compositions whe we make for (Harry) Mudie, Rasta music with Count Ossie. Him don't put who play the instrument, him jus' put 'Mudie', you understan'. The producer, him have the money fe put him name 'pon all them record.

Q: There was Rico & Des All Stars as well.

A: Yeah, Rico & Des All Stars. Yes.

Q: What was that group again, Des All Stars? It was Dandy Livingstone's group, basically?

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dandy Livingstone was the man who used to give me regular work in a Englan', 'Message To You, Rudy', 'Suzanne', and 'The Lion'. Yeah, me used to do regular recordin' with Dandy Livingstone. Dandy use fe give me regular work.

Q: What became of Dandy?

A: Dandy? When me dung a Jamaica long, me run into him, man. A Jamaica him live, I see him down in Kingston. And him ask me how I get along, and me tell him seh, "Bwoy, me jus' come a Jamaica fe a lickle while, yunno" And me in a no mood fe stay dung deh so long, but me stay dung deh so long, y'know wha' I mean, beca' the climate was good an' I don't have much responsibility...

Q: OK (chuckles).

A: Beca' my family dem 'ave them own place, we can stay with them, like. So it was a life with not much responsibility, like if you live in a Englan' or America. The climate is good.

Rico at SNWMF 2006 (photos: Sis Irie)
Q: Definitely.

A: And you can live, you can sleep anywhere. It's not like Englan' or America whe cold. So, I would say it was a time of whe you woulda call hardship, I enjoyed it. Beca' I wasn't workin' so hard, I was takin' it easy. I would say I relax very well in Jamaica within that time, no stress, jus' naturality.

Q: What about the Doctor Bird label, Mr Goody, did you record for Graeme Goodall during the late sixties, Pedigree Productions?

A: Yeah man, in a Englan'. And the other day when...

Q: With Symarip and the Pyramids.

A: Yeah. And the other day when some people invite me in Toronto, I did see him in Toronto I think.

Q: Right.

A: Beca' they had a concert over there with the Skatalites, they invited me, yunno.

Q: 'The Legends Of Ska' concert?

A: Yeah, yeah, I think I did see him deh so, yeah.

Q: You had not met for ages?

A: Many, many years, even the guitarist whe used to play before Ernest, you have a guitarist who used to play on the record before Ernest Ranglin, I met him as well (possibly Phil Chen). I met Karl Bryan, my good friend. Sterling, Joe (Jo Jo) Bennett, (Lloyd) Brevett, Johnny Moore, Lloyd Knibbs, just really good to see all my friends from long time, me a tell you, man! Yes, I didn't see them for so long that it was a joy, everybody was glad to see me, yunno. And Derrick Harriott, Derrick Harriott and his brothers.

Q: Owen Gray.

A: Owen Gray wasn't there, no... Yes, yes! Owen Gray was there, that's right. Yeah.

Q: Stranger Cole.

A: Stranger Cole, oh God, man! And the only person who didn't come was Laurel Aitkens.

Q: Yes, he was either sick or didn't want to go by that time.

A: Laurel Aitken, even in the September set up he didn't want to travel any more. Yeah.

Q: Justin Hinds was there, and Patsy.

A: Yeah, Justin Hinds. Yes, yes. Yeah man, it was a joy to see all these people that I remember many, many years ago we used to record at Federal studio in Jamaica, and to come up to Toronto and see them, oh God, it was a joy, man. And the people who booked us there too, they treated us very good too. We had Jamaican food, an' Lord Tanamo was there too.

Q: Yes.

A: Sparky & Pluggy was there too, the dancers. It was a joy to see all these people, man, beca' I didn't see them from I leave Jamaica, I didn't see some a them again.

Q: They taped it, I think they made a documentary of it, but it's still unreleased.

A: Yeah man, beca' I remember the only person I didn't saw was Basil Gabbidon, 'Time To Pray' (for Studio One). But most of the people from that time was at that concert, man. Very good.

Q: By the way, what became of Gabbidon?

A: They went to Miami, I think him went to Miami, he stay at Miami. He didn't bother with the singin' any more, he gone into business or something else. It wasn't easy in the music, man.

Q: With some perspective, how do you look back on your career now?

A: Yes, I accept my development musically, and first of all I keep in good shape, yunno, musically. The only thing, I didn't get rich out of it. But at least I would say give thanks for life, I'm gettin' to know more people each day an' my telephone always keep ringin' an' I cannot cope with the amount of work that people want fe give me sometimes.

Q: Not enough time.

A: I'm workin' with Jools regular an' these people keep calling me fe give me gigs, sometime I cannot keep up with it. Beca' it's wha' me say, the good people in life, like Jools Holland, you always feel good with him and you let him feel good with you. You no want to come out of it an' mek people feel bad about what you doing, y'know. So I'm feeling very good with what I'm doing right now. And my development from Alpha, I always give thanks to Alpha, them give me the start musically.

Q: I truly hope you could try and gather the cream of your output during the sixties and put it out on your own, so you can benefit in some way from that music.

A: Yeah, yeah. People tell me that too, y'know, lots of people tell me that, sah.

Q: Give it a try, if you can.

A: OK.

That would be the most heart-warming, to know that this man will finally see some benefit for all that work. Even though they didn't do their job properly as far as compensating him, Trojan did otherwise an excellent thing with the best compilation of Rico's early work in 'Trombone Man - Anthology 1961 - '71'. But there is definitely more to collect. Hopefully our man at the 'bone can gather what is remaining of his best early work on 45's and put it out independently. And what about the record for Randy's Clive Chin? May that project see the light of day. As for the obscure 'Wareika Dub', the companion to that most classic of classic albums, it is hardly the most adventurous of dub mixes you could wish to hear, but nonetheless an enjoyable album right through, if you could track down a copy... Mr Rodriguez's distinguished career and long-standing contribution to the Jamaican music industry is nothing but a remarkable achievement considering the changes the music has seen over the years. Rico has been there like a monument, someone to lean on for that special timeless quality of old-time musicianship. He may not be with us much longer, physically, but Rico is immortal in his music. When others are forgotten he will still be talked about. If there will ever be a thing such as a 'Reggae Hall of Fame', Rico should be one of the first to be honoured a stone. Amen.

7" single information courtesy Roots Knotty Roots.

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