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Don Drummond - The Famous Jamaican Trombonist

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  • #31
    I guess my thread is timely.


    You can preview and read some of the book here

    Don Drummond’s musical life began at the Alpha Boys School – the crucible that gave the world musicians like Lennie Hibbert, Tommy McCook, Rico Rodrigues, Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks and Joe Harriott amongst others. While Drummond had friends he was never the most communicative person. It was always about the music and eventually he was recruited to Eric Deans Orchestra who were resident six nights a week at the Colony Club in Kingston playing Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman hits for “society” people and tourists.

    Agustyn paints a vivid picture of their working life as musicians in the mid Fifties up to Independence in ’62 when the rise of Sound Systems created a direct momentum for original Jamaican music that could be played into the dances.
    Drummond was famed for being strange and difficult. In fact, he had spent stints in Bellvue Mental Hospital and was suffering from mental illness. Sound man Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd knew of Don’s condition and as he needed Drummond on his Studio One records bought him a new trombone as a way of owning him.

    Recording business in Jamaica is serious business and at Studio One they had to clock on and clock off.
    It was a tuff life with small returns and Drummond suffered under the pressure.

    Central to Drummond’s story that Anita Mahfood aka “Margarita – The Rhumba Dancer” and with her story comes an insidious undercurrent of violence. While fleeing a dark and abusive relationship with boxer Rudolph ent- the Dark Destroyer – Anita encountered Don Drummond and his music. It ignited a spark that was to burn so fiercely that it eventually destroyed them both.

    While the members of the Skatalites cut hundreds of tunes for various producers the creative playing was often left for Count Ossie’s grounations at the Rastafari camp at Wareika Hill. According to producer Clive Chin his father (Randy’s ) insisted he stay in the car when he visited the camp. It was at Wareika that they gathered to reason, chant down Babylon, burn the chalice and play into the night with the drummers. Anita Mahfood was a regular at Wareika and her one and only record ‘Ungu Malungu Man’ which was retitled ‘Woman A Come’ by Duke Reid was her paean to Don Drummond another camp regular.


    In late 1964 Drummond and Anita Mahfood were living together. Their relationship was turbulent. On New Year’s Eve Anita ignored Drummond’s demands that she stop dancing and went to dance at the Baby Grand and Club Havana. It proved a fatal decision. Don’s psychosis fuelled jealousy tragically led to his murdering Anita upon her return. The bright light which fueled these two spectacularly creative beings was snuffed out that night. Don Drummond went on to be found “Guilty but insane” and was confined to Bellvue Mental Hospital. Confirming that the conditions in the hospital were degrading and disgraceful – and possibly violent on the part of the staff – he died prematurely from “congestive cardiac failure and anemia” at the age of 36.

    Heather Augustyn paints a vivid picture of a hugely creative era in Jamaica and never shrinks from dealing with a cycle of violent abuse and the stigma of mental illness. In the end ‘Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist’ leaves us no place to go but the music and that my friends takes us to those Far East melodies, those groundbreaking compositions… minor masterpieces… that allow his melancholy genius to shine. Roll on Don Cosmic… Ungu Malungu Man….
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Tropicana; 10-04-2013, 11:51 PM.


    • #32
      Very thorough article:

      These were some indications of his instability.

      Don Drummond’s vision gave his music a thrilling difference, but his idiosyncratic behaviour had a volatile side and his heavy medication probably exacerbated his drastic mood swings.Clancy Eccles recalled some of the trombone player’s peculiar traits. “By working with Coxsone, I happen to meet Don Drummond on his first session. He did a song named ‘That Man Is Back,’ and I worked eight months with Don Drummond on stage after that. While we were recording down by Federal, they was digging out that piece of land, and Don used to go over and pick up this pretty piece of clay and put it in his Ovaltine. Don Drummond never eat anything hot – everything cold, lot of fruits and so on. One day Roland and Johnny looked in the bottle, it was clay and all those things mixed together, and Drummond said: ‘People are supposed to live in an atomic energy, you are supposed to build atoms inside of you’ – that’s why he ate the clay. For a madman, Drummond was extraordinary – I wouldn’t call Drummond mad. There’s another story of Don Drummond performing in Port Antonio, and the MC said: ‘Now we present Don Drummond!’ and Drummond just came right out, in a suit, and just pull down the zip and just piss on them! Drummond was just something else. Drummond never wear a shoe – always wear his felt hat, him look beautiful, but he’s not wearing a shoe. He was like one of those American jazz musicians, just a different type of person. Any time I hear Drummond play I hear something good.”


      • #33

        Excerpt from interview with Lloyd Brevet

        Q: During the short time the group was together in its initial years, it must've been an overload of work and consequently a very tight schedule and a lot of pressure, with so few really qualified musicians around you were all in demand constantly, and you recorded for not only Studio One but also Top Deck, Randy's, King Edwards, and so on, if not in the studio working then you probably played in clubs. Is this exaggerated or how could you manage to squeeze in so much work?

        A: Well, we always hit the ball, yunno. Night and day we is at studio, and the studio sometime...

        Q: You lived in the studio, huh?

        A: (Laughs) Yeah! You could've thought it was that! Yeah man, the Skatalites, the sound, to record the sound, man, the band have a good vibes. Since Tommy come in to the United States, get a lickle group together, him name it Skatalites but it couldn't be. Only in Jamaica with me and Lloyd Knibbs could he get the right riddim. So then we form back the Skatalites.

        Q: But before that though, about Don Drummond's work with the band, several of the Skatalites tunes was Drummond's compositions, perhaps more than known.

        A: Well, a lot of the tunes, Don Drummond write them, lot's of the tune dem. They credit some of our tunes to him, but a lot of the tune was his tune dem.

        Q: How do you remember him now?

        A: How I remember him? Well, I know the man so I must remember him. I remember a lot of Don.

        Q: How was he, artistically and personally speaking?

        A: Well, he was a quiet brother. When he come to studio he just go by himself and go write a tune or practice until the band ready. He was a man who stay by himself, personally. He was often not - when the band formed he just play at a club that pay three times a week, for not every night him play with we. But Don Drummond is a man that stay by himself more time. And it so happen that I was off the road for a few months, 'bout three months, and they couldn't get no bass player to fit in during them three months, couldn't get no bass player to fit in to fill my space. And they try all by Dodd's, but by that time there was some trouble with Don Drummond, him jus' sayin' that him stop playing. How him going to get (inaudible) when he die then now... Him tell them seh him stop play, and tell his girl - she, Margarita, his girl, he told her she must not go to the show. According to what I hear, when he drop asleep she went away to the show - ca' he stop play. And she went away to the show, he woke up before she came back. When she came back he stab her, she die from that.

        Q: Would you say he was that difficult as many have him?

        A: No. You mean like erratic and all that?

        Q: Yeah.

        A: No man, him quiet. For him grow like that, him was just a quiet brother. Don Drummond wasn't a Rasta at all. I am the Rastaman that in the band those day. No other Rastaman was in the band.

        Q: Still Drummond wrote those Rasta-inspired tunes like 'Addis Ababa' and so on.

        A: Yeah, yeah.

        Last edited by Tropicana; 10-04-2013, 09:56 PM.


        • #34
          Another unreleased track:


          • #35
            Ska: An Oral History by the same author has the part about her arm being shoved in the trombone"



            • #36
              This is also very interesting:

              Splash and Ripple from Green Island:
              The Musical Legacy of Don Drummond



              I believe this description came from Bunny Wailer.
              Don Drummond leaned forward in his chair. His trombone rested, for the moment, balanced in between his stiffening thighs and the wooden floor strewn with cheap rugs. He ran his right index and middle fingers back and forth in a perfect semi-circle through the space between his throat and the collar of his well recognized, turtleneck sweater. He twisted his head, left and right, in perfect counter rhythm to this ventilating hook, and embraced the slow, cooling, pause that it delivered. Looking out across the modest expanse of Studio One’s recording chamber, he could see, on this warm Kingston July day in 1964, a staggering collection of musical talent that would go on to advance Jamaican (and in turn, all) music to epic heights.

              Don Drummond knew that he was a de facto leader of this progressive guard of the new island independence. His star shone brightly as the most ambitious and prolific composer and performer of ska – the pulsing, energetic, dance music that had literally lowered the flag on British colonial rule in August 1962. Popular favor was uniquely his. His education and early bandstand experience had also led him to strive (along with the man who had assembled this session and was running the one track Ampex 350 tape machine – Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd) for acceptance of a genuine, Jamaican, jazz genre. Over three hundred recorded songs would eventually bear Drummond’s name and/or input. “Blue beat” would nearly take over the mid-Sixties UK music nderground, due in large part, to his work. Only just into his twenties, he was already a giant among aspiring giants. Who were the other giants in the room? Along with sound system champion and visionary producer Coxsone, the rest of the newly dubbed Skatalites readied their instruments. Lloyd Knibbs, drums; Lloyd Brevett, bass; Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haines, guitar; Jackie Mittoo, piano; Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook, tenor saxes; “Dizzy” Johnny Moore, trumpet; and Dennis “Ska” Campbell, baritone sax. On vocals were the lovely Beverly Kelso and the distinguished firm of Braithwaite, Livingston, and McIntosh. The last three Wailers would eventually be better known as Junior, Bunny, and Tosh.

              Don Drummond sensed nothing special or historic in this summer session day beyond the fact that he was once again getting a chance to play the music that he wanted and needed to play.

              Don Drummond

              Feeling a bit cooler, he tipped up the brim of his hat beyond his forehead. He scratched five times with an unclipped, right, middle fingernail against his closely cropped, dark, widow’s peak curls.

              He took one final mental walk through the meticulously drawn charts cradled in his left arm. These charts, as always, would be his anchor in the session’s bay. They would also be his (and the other Skatalites’) literal launching pad for inspired, exploratory, improvisation. He exhaled and unconsciously tapped his right foot up and down as the session’s lead vocalist stepped up to the microphone. Robert Nesta Marley was ready to take a pass through “Simmer Down.” Contrary to the song’s title, Don felt the heat recollecting itself under his turtleneck. A still deeper fire burned far below his comfortably worn garment. His heart, his head, and his very soul were all flicked by the flames of a great “pressure reach.” In a few months, there would be the conflagration that would be the end of Don Drummond. The session would yield four other tracks that would begin Bob Marley and the Wailers’ road to world influence and renown.
              Last edited by Tropicana; 10-05-2013, 11:29 AM.


              • #37
                From the Rico Rodriguez Interview

                Q: So when did you actually go up to the hills, Wareika Hills?

                A: When I was in a... when I was in the teens.

                Q: How come you ended up there?

                A: Well my friend used to play trombone, my very good friend, my tutor, Don Drummond. And he used to go up there, so I used to follow him up there, y'know.

                Q: When was this, like mid fifties or something?

                A: Late fifties.

                Q: Late fifties, OK.

                A: Yeah, yeah. That's how I follow him up and I jus' start stayin' up in Wareika Hills with him an' studied music with him, yunno. We listened to the music of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Count Ossie. That was my regular movement every day, to Wareika Hills, playing with the musicians up there.

                Q: When did you meet Drummond?

                A: Don was in school, he was my teacher in school, and we lived about three streets away, together, yunno. Like he live on one street and I live about two streets away from him, so... He always ask me why I go home every night, yunno, why don't I come an' stay with him in Wareika Hill an' play some music, so that's how I met him, started stayin' out with him.

                Q: So you met him at school.

                A: I met him... we were friends from Alpha (Boys School), because he was famous and he was always working, yunno. And I want to find him, so findin' him up in Wareika Hill I decide to stay up there with him. Both of us come from Allman Town, livin' with our mothers, and I discover in the daytime I don't see him, so I ask him where him is, so him seh him always go up to Wareika Hills.

                Q: How do you remember him now, as far as character, personality, etc?

                A: He was a very quiet, a very quiet man, yunno, quiet man an' really into studying music and writing. But he was a very... quiet, quiet person, him never used to play football or anyt'ing like that. Me used to play football, maybe he look at football as too rough a game he don't play, y'know.

                Q: He didn't have a family up there to take care of?

                A: Who, Don? No, no. Don had his mother. But he was one of the best players in the country, so everybody was interested in him very much. Sometimes he plays with different bands, but when I catch him up in Wareika Hills he was just a regular man stayin' in Wareika Hills, playing music.

                Q: What was the cause that you chose the 'blowing in the wind' instrument, it was only because of Don's influence?

                A: Well, Drummond was me friend, like. Me always strive fe get inna the band, yunno, but it never happen so easy to... it took a long time. But when them tek me in the band, I never even get to play a trombone, they used to give me cornette to play, and euphonium. Miscellaneous instruments I used to play.

                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)?

                Q: No.

                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.

                Rico Rodriguez
                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.



                • #38
                  Strange name for a song but given his history...

                  I'll tell you a story though. I once had to check a patient in there. Young guy bright too. Anyway, the patients were sitting around looking dull and passive doing some arts and crafts, lethargic, working very slowly. The radio was playing. As soon as the reggae music came on they came alive. They were totally transformed, laughing, energetic, dancing. As soon as the music ended, they became lethargic again.

                  Honestly, more research needs to be done into the possibility of using music for therapy. If I find more background on the song I will post it.


                  • #39
                    This has been retrieved from


                    I wish the author's name was included so Xavier could track this down for the front page.

                    Don Drummond
                    Don Drummond, aka Don Cosmic, was born in 1943, Kingston, Jamaica. To state anything more than that, would be a travesty. Apart from the fact that like all legends, nothing seems to known about his early days, men like Don D are just here for a short while, then gone…

                    Don Drummond was a part-time music teacher at Alpha School, a rather strict Catholic school for boys who were nearly all from poor, underprivileged backgrounds. The school, which was situated on South Camp Road, in West Kingston, was (and probably still is!) almost penal in its discipline, with beatings a regular occurrence.

                    Alpha veered towards the European musical tradition of marching and classical music. At the time Drummond attended Alpha, so were many other internationally known musicians, including: Wilton Gaynair, Owen Grey, Roy Harper and Herman Marquis. Don D graduated from being one of the schools top seniors, to its supreme tutor.

                    Amongst his influences stood such greats as Kai Winding and JJ Johnson, and Drummond was to influence many others himself. In his wake came such luminaries as Rico Rodriguez, Rupie Anderson, Vernon Muller, Carlos Malcolm, Carl Masters, Tommy McCook, Eric Clarke, Vincent Gordon, Joe Harriot and Bobby Ellis.
                    In 1940's Jamaica, big band swing and jazz ruled, and the starting place for musicians like Tommy McCook (1943) and Roland Alphonso(1948), was the Eric Dean Orchestra. Drummond joined them in 1955 having been voted Best Trombonist in 1954, and then formed The Don Drummond Four. He was also cutting specials for sound systems before being spotted by Clement 'Coxone' Dodd, performing at the Majestic Theatre.
                    Drummond had just completed one of his many short visits to one of the local mental hospitals, and didn’t even own a trombone, but Coxone was impressed enough to take Drummond on him as a solo artist and session player. In the meantime, the specials Drummond had previously cut were starting to be released commercially in Jamaica and England to critical acclaim. Drummond started his recording career sometime around 1956, with his first record being"On the Beach", with Owen Grey on vocals.

                    In 1962, Chris Blackwell started releasing recordings in England, and many of Drummond’s compositions first saw the light of day on the Island and Black Swan (left) labels. Drummond recorded over 300 songs before he died at the age of just 27.

                    This has a very sophisticated and classy sound:

                    I wonder if it has been used for any Hollywood movies.

                    In 1964, under Coxsone's supervision, keyboardist and musical director Jackie Mittoo began to assemble the best musicians in Jamaica to create a sound that would dominate the music scene for years to come. The seeds for theSkatalites were sown while Mittoo played in the Sheiks, alongside Johnny Moore (trumpet) and Lloyd Knibbs on drums. After guitarist Lynn Taitt and Tommy McCook declined to join the band (though McCook later claimed it was his idea to form the band), Drummond was the man Mittoo turned to, and he quickly became the most prolific composer and musician in the band.

                    No mean feat when you consider the rest of the Skatalites later consisted of such names as Roland Alphonso & Tommy McCook on tenor saxes, Lester Sterling on alto sax, Leonard Dillon on trumpet, Lloyd Brevette on bass, Jah Jerry on guitar, Ernest Ranglin on guitar, Rico Rodriguez on trombone, Arkland 'Drumbago' Parks and Cluett Johnson on bass. These names would soon become legends, and the band is still playing today, although the fairly recent deaths of Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso have saddened events.
                    Right, (left to right) Rico Rodriguez, Don Drummond, Carlos Malcolm and Rupert Anderson.
                    Drummond’s first solo single, "Don Cosmic" was followed by such timeless magnificence as "Confuscious", "Ringo", "Treasure Isle", "Eastern Standard Time", "Heavenless", "Occupation", "Meloncolly Baby", "Snowboy", "Elevation Rock", "Schooling the Duke", "Valley Princess", "The Reburial of Marcus Garvey", "Addis Ababa", "African Beat", and my own personal favorite, "Further East".

                    Sometime in 1964, "Man in the Street" (left) entered the UK top 10, and later, in 1967 Drummond’s adaptation of the theme to the film "The Guns Of Navarone" gives him his second UK Top 10. These events confirm Drummond’s rise to the top and he is named by both George Shearing and Sarah Vaughan as one of the five top trombonists in the world. Vaughan came to this conclusion after seeing Drummond just once. Tommy McCook recalls;

                    “Don came on the scene initially about ’52. He became very popular and was playing with good bands at the time. He was a member of the band that backed Sarah Vaughan when she came to Jamaica and performed at the Glass Bucket club. She heard him for the first time and told the Jamaican public that she figured that he was rated in the first five in the world. From then on Don lived up to what Sarah said – he was even thought of at one time as being the best in the world. His tone on the trombone, his approach, everything was so perfect. I considered him a genius on his instrument. Even other players of the instrument expressed this, and they should know.”

                    Don Drummond was not just a genius. Drummond’s prestige among other musicians carried with it the hopes and dreams of all of Jamaica’s shantytown musicians. This was an incredible stress on a man whose life hovered between eccentricity and manic depression. His delicate mental condition was not helped by the amount of ganja he consumed, and the pressures of fame without gain simply helped to push Drummond completely over the edge. The crunch came one early morning in January 1965, after his live-in lover returned home to the apartment they shared together at Rushden Road, Johnson Town in East Kingston.

                    Rhumba dancer stabbed to death; Trombonist held on murder charge, screamed the January 2 1964 Gleaner Headline; 23 year old Anita Mahfood, (known as Margarita) and Jamaica’s leading exotic dancer, came home at 3.30 a.m. after a gig at the Baby Grand Club in Cross Roads. At approximately 4.30 a.m. Drummond walked into the Rockfort police station and told Constable Aston Pennycooke that;

                    “Ah woman in de yard stab herself with a knife and ah would like de police to come and see her.”

                    What the two police officers that accompanied Drummond to his home found, in a front room, laying on one of the two beds, was the body of Anita Mahfood. She had been stabbed many times, and the knife was still stuck in her breast, under a piece of chamois cloth laid over her chest. Drummond said of the cloth that;

                    “Dis is de cloth which she held the knife with a stabbed herself”.

                    In death though, Mahfood had sealed Drummonds guilt. Lying on the floor was Drummond ‘s trombone, and Anita Mahfoods hand was pushed right in the bell…Don Drummond was held on a murder charge.
                    During the subsequent trial at Kingston’s Sutton Street courthouse, which took place on Tuesday February 9 1965, neighbours of the couple testified that at 3.30 they heard a car door slam twice outside the gate, followed by footsteps going up the stairway to Drummond’s apartment. Mahfoods voice was heard to say;

                    “Junie, please open de door fe me”.

                    Drummond then replied “Nuh, it is not locked”.

                    Mahfood then knocked on the door twice before Drummond opened it.

                    Witness Enid Hibbert then recalled the following heated exchange taking place, which she recalled Mahfood saying:

                    “Imagine I teken’ a five-minute nap an’ when I wake up I see yuh sittin, beside me very serious. Wha’ happen mon?”

                    To which Drummond replied “Yuh don’ wan’ ta sleep. Go an’ sleep nuh, mon. Ain’t yuh just come in?”

                    Mahfood: “Ah cyan’t sleep under dose conditions fe yuh have a knife wrap in a chamois between yuh feet!”

                    According to Hibbert, Drummond then said the knife was in his pants behind the door.

                    Mahfood: “Nuh, de knife is not in yuh pants pocket, it is wrapped in a chamois between yuh feet”.

                    Drummond “Nuh!”

                    Mahfood: “Nuh, Junie, nuh, Junie, nuh, Junie – Help! Murder!”

                    The coroners report stated that: “All four wounds penetrated the chest wall”, and “the wounds were produced by four separate stabs and all four were inflicted with considerable force”.

                    In answer to the question from the court; “Doctor, do you think these four wounds could have been self-inflicted?”

                    The coroner concluded that: “No, they could not have been”.

                    Drummond was duly convicted and remanded to the Bellevue Asylum where he died in 1969, but the story doesn’t end there. For even in death, Drummond’s tortured soul could find no rest, and soon after his demise conspiracy theories took hold. Supersonics drummer Hugh Malcolm theatrically tore up Drummond’s death certificate at his memorial service, refusing to believe its official position.

                    Like many people in Jamaica, Malcolm thought Drummond’s death was far more sinister in origin, and definitely not suicide. The theory is that Drummond was beaten to death by guards, with the governments blessing, and the fledgling democracy had indeed repressed the West Kingston musical scene for years, along with its rasta brethren. Another theory passed about includes plots by gangsters who mixed with Mahfood’s father.

                    The truth probably is a lot simpler, and is probably a combination of all the theories with some simple truths. Drummond was a sick man, and the pressures of stardom are not easily handled, especially if you live life right on the edge. The history of music is littered with casualties, and with genius often comes tragedy, and the great Don Cosmic is just another star who shines bright in heaven.

                    I shall leave the last words on Don Drummond to someone who knew and worked with the man himself, the late great Tommy McCook. He reminisces about the Skatalites;

                    “The line up included Don Drummond. He really was fantastic, both as a composer and as an instrumentalist. He knew no boundaries. He would take the simplest ska tune and make it into a gem…”


                    How come there is no live footage of any of his performances?


                    • #40
                      Talk about horns.


                      • #41


                        • #42


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