Jama Rico


School time[]

  • 1940: Rico was sent to Alpha Boys School in Kingston at the age of six. (Rapha YEYÉ n.y.)
  • "At Alpha there was a lot of discipline. Evereyday praying, working in the garden, and musical theory. But it was much better than cleaning shoes for tourists. And as soon our teacher was away, we just played our own things." (Rico as quoted by Lars Albaum, Spex 3/1995, p. 15, translated back from German by Braunov)
  • "...where he expressed great interest in learning to play saxophone. The school nuns, however, urged him to take up the trombone instead (under the supervision of Don Drummond, because there was a desperate need for a tromboneist in the school band." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)

After School[]

  • "... Within a year of leaving Alpha Boys, Rodriguez managed to save enough money from odd jobs to buy his own trombone." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994) [There are different versions for Rico's first trombone ...]



  • "Around 1958, both Rico and Drummond left the deans outfit to link up with the commune of Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, situated at 32 Adastra Road in East Kingston." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)
  • Rico converts to Rastafarianism. (Rapha YEYÉ n.y.)

Late 1950s[]

  • Rico liked the music of cool jazzer Frank Rosolino (as told to Lars Albaum, Spex 3/1995, p. 15)


"... around 1959 Lloyd felt compelled to start producing records himself. The first sessions Lloyd produced were done at Kennth Khouri's Federal Studios with musicians Rico Rodriguez, Rolando Alphonso, Lester Sterling, Lloyd Mason, Johnny Moore, Jah Jerry,Lloyd Knibbs and Theo Beckford. The recordings included the instrumental tracks Bridgeview Shuffle and Continental Shuffle as well as two vocals performed by Neville Esson, Miss Ann and Shimmy And Twist...." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)

  • Rico got some session work through Count Ossie, and thereby came to record for such producers as Arthur "Duke" Reid and Clement Seymour "Coxsone" Dodd. Early recordings bearing the characteristic Rico sound are Easy Snappin', Over The River, Judgement Day, Let George Do It and Salt Lane Shuffle. (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)



  • "I loved the excitement of music but I just wasn't making a living - Jamaica is the land of my birth and I love it, but it just wasn't happening. The police were very oppressive at this time [of the Rasta] and Ossie encourage me to go to England. So I stow away a few times but never make it, then Randy [Vincent Chin] pay for me to come over." (Rico quoted by Michael de Koningh, 2003, p. 14)
  • "In 1961, Rodriguez left Jamaica for London." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)


  • 1962: In London Rico recorded again with Laurel Aitken here for Melodisc with Les Dawson Combo: "Going Back To Kansas City".
  • 1962 and later: "I was playing R&B sessions for Blue Beat as well as Planetone - [Emil] Shallit and [Siggy] Jackson treat me good. I also worked regularly with Georgie Fame's band The Blue Flames at the Roaring Twenties - I didn't see Georgie much though. I'd walk in with my trombone and they'd say, "Hey man, come and have a blow." I also used to see Count Suckle, who's done a lot for the people, you know. But I never did any work for Island at this time." (Rico quoted by Michael de Koningh, 2003, p. 16)
  • "There were signs in the boarding house windows "No blacks, no Irish"; it was very hard. I stayed with friends in Tottenham and I worked at Ford Motor Factory and did other dirty jobs. One time I worked in a rubber factory and I had to take my clothes off outside as I was so dirty. My friends were into different things so then I moved to south London." (Rico quoted by Michael de Koningh, 2003, p. 14)
  • Rico influenced the Beatles! Read this:

Q: How do you know that you influenced the Beatles? CD: "They attended a lot of West Indian parties. They used to hang out a lot with Jamaicans - out of that they just started something. Even with the long hair thing, it was Rico Rodriquez who went over there and being a brown guy with long hair they (Beatles) liked it and started to grow their hair. They attended a lot of parties that Rico played at because when Rico was in East London he real1y kicked up a storm man. We influenced the whole pop scene in Europe." From an interview with C.S. Dodd, held in 1994, see: HEARTBEATNEWS.COM 2004


"'I did plenty of work for Dandy [Livingston], and Webster and Desmond and Joe [Shrowder, Bryan and Sinclair respectively - Trojan]. I also did work for Pama - they all used to call me - I never pestered for work, it came to me.
'I was a freelance - and Joe Mansano I did work for as well, and he only paid sesion fees. Me and Dice the Boss would play over backing tapes. He's also called Pama Dice and maybe BaBa Dice.' So while some of Mansano's finest recordings, such as the classic "Skinhead Revolt", featured the DJ jiving of Dice and Rico's jazz-fuelled trombone, in some cases the actual session was dubbed over existing rhythm tracks." (Rico quoted by Michael de Koningh, 2003, pp. 70/71)


"He debuted as member of the Undivided in 1971, remaining with the band until their break-up in 1976." (Dr. Bustamente DYNAMITE 1994)


  • Roy Shirley remembers: "'It was here [at his Imperial Record shop] that I was filmed for the Aquarius TV programme on British reggae - you can see me walking outside the shop. Then I was taken, with Rico Rodriguez, to Phebes' club in Amhurst Road.' In the programme Roy gives a thoroughly spirited performance of his 1967 classic 'Wear You At The Ball'." (see Michael de Koningh, 2003, p. 44)


  • ''Man From Wareika''



  • Somehow Rico was contacted by The Specials to play on their first album. Horace Panter remembers it in his book Ska'd For Life this way: "It was someone who knew somebody who worked for Rick Rogers who put us in touch with Rico. I knew the name, but my knowledge of ska and reggae was not as extensive as neville's, Lynval's or Brad's, who made out that some kind of second coming was imminent when a date was set for Rico to come down and play on our album. Brad, I recall, seemed disbelieving that he had even returned our phone call. ... He brought with him a trumpet player who he worked with, Dick Cuthell. ... Rico and Dick made the band sound fantastic. 'Message to You' and 'Nite Klub' - two of the best cuts on the LP:" (pp. 98/99)
  • October 1979: The Specials tour the UK w/ The Selecter and Madness. "When Rico and Dick Cuthell joined the band for the last four tunes, the place, which had usually gone wild anyway, went even wilder." (Horace Panter, 2007, p.109)


  • January: European tour by The Specials: "Rico did not freeze to death, but was less than enamoured by our travel arrangements." (Horace Panter, 2007, p.130)

Berlin, Metropol Theater: The Specials with Rico played the best concert I've ever seen in life. Never before and never after that show I felt such a positive energy. Reading the book of Horace Panter it seems to me that the band had exactly the same vibes. - Jan. 2008, User:JamaRico

  • 25 January: First US tour, first show for The Specials in New York. The next weeks are a very difficult experiment for the young band and maybe also for the senior musicians, Dick and Rico. They never told the story. But (Horace Panter, 2007, pp. 134ff.) describes that complete madness quite well.
  • 15 February at Palo Alto: For this day he notes among other: "Nev has lost a tooth and has a nasty gash over his right eye. Rico leaves, never to return, according to Jerry." (p. 160) and for
  • 16 February at Santa Cruz: "Rico has not left the band and is still with us. 'Here, Horace, have some of this fine California ganja ...'" (p. 161)
  • 19 February at Madison, Wisconsin: "Our set is great - not as manic as usual, and a groove that has not been heard for ages makes a reappearance in a far few of the songs. 'Nite Club' especially stood out for me tonight, and 'Man From Warieka' [sic!] is the best version we've played. A short arrangement - it can be a bit boring if it's played for too long. I love playing Rico's stuff." (Horace Panter, 2007, pp. 165/166)
  • 23 February at Detroit: Rico seemed not very comfortable with the whole toursituation as Horace Panter, 2007, pp. 169/170) writes: "Get on the bus around 1 o'clock to the now familiar sound of Rico complaining. He is finding it hard to get proper Rastafarian food over here and is oviously not enjoying himself."
  • 24 February at Toronto: "Why is it that gig with no sound checks give us the best sound? The stage is tiny, bumping into everybody all the time, but the atmosphere is tremendous. We play the whole lot, plus our version of 'Madness' and 'Man from Warieka', Rico playing one of the best solos I've ever heard him play." (Horace Panter, 2007, pp. 172)
  • ca. May: recording sessions for More Specials at Coventry


  • April: German Spex magazin reviews That Man Is Forward (Spex 4/1981, p. 24)
  • Rico played his most exiting solo ever (to be heard on the 12" version of "Ghost Town"), released on June 20.

The single was recorded in an atmosphere of Magaret Tatcher's politics against the immigants, exploding unemployment figueres and the first riots in Brixton. Then the record was released on June 20 ... "The National Front announced a march through the town on the same day. "The gig was half-full," says Horace Panter. "There were rumours the NF was going to turn up and attack."

Then, on July 10, Britain erupted. A second wave of rioting in Brixton spread throughout the country. ... The next day, Ghost Town reached number one, developing a terrible currency not even Dammers could have predicted.

"It was an incredible moment," he says. "I can remember Rico [the Specials' veteran Rastafarian trombone player] saying, 'Jerry, if your army combine with my army, it's a revolution!'" (Ska for the madding crowd, by Alexis Petridis, in: The Guardian, March 8, 2002)

"More interesting are the 2 Top Of The Pops appearances the band made to promote the single. Both performances saw the band expanded to a 11 piece which included Rico, Dick Cuthell, Rhoda Dakar and ex-Swinging Cat, Paul Heskett on flute." 2Tone.info

  • "The day Jerry Dammers called me to inform on the Specials split belongs to the saddest days in my life." Rico as quoted by Lars ALBAUM 1995 (Spex, 3/1995, p. 15)
  • Rico plays some concerts with three "Specials" in his band, among them Jerry Dammers, Horace Panter and John Bradbury. One of these concerts was at Rheinterrassen in Bonn, Germany. German mag Spex published in its issue of November 1981 (p. 7) a review by Olaf Karnik who used that evening to talk briefly with Jarry Dammers. While the reviewer was more interested in news about the Specials he came to the result: "Wenn ich mir das so überlege, hat dieses "musikalisch unwichtige Ereignis" soviel Spaß, wie kaum zuvor gemacht." The author was impressed that music, reggae music could distribute 'good vibes' without being "an important musical event". Jerry Dammers confirmed that this project was "just for fun" and designed to play again in small venues with contact to the audience. Rico performed "What I'm Talkin' 'bout", later released as "Jungle Music". Dammers annonced the production of Rico's second longplayer for 2Tone Records.


  • 2.2.: "Jungle Music" was released on 7" and 12" 2Tone-singles.
  • After Rico had released his last 2Tone single, "Jungle Music", he rearranged the title and called him "What You Talkin' Bout"; the live performance with a very different arrangement was released on a compilation called Music And Rhythm (DoLP: WEA K68045), for the benefit of Peter Gabriel's initiative later called WOMAD; see: Discogs. The song appeared later also as "You Must Be Crazy" or "Jungle Beat" on Live CDs.


1983 Kingston 500

Photography by Pekka Vuorinen, from the CD Tribute To Don Drummond

  • Paul Young had a huge success with his single "Love Of The Common People": Rico contributes a trombone solo on one of his last appearances befor leavng for Jamaica.
  • Rico's back in Jamaica


  • Rico's living in Wareika Hills.
  • July 1987: The Heart Beat Band from Switzerland meets Rico in Jamaica and invites him to record with them.


  • Rico joins Jazz Jamaica, a band led by Gary Crosby. Live they played even with Courtney Pine; Rico is close to Jazz as he's never came again. To bee seen at You Tube: RICO - LIVE


You Must Be Crazy 1975 C 500

You Must Be Crazy, cover

  • 29.3.: Rico & His Band, live at FZW, Dortmund, Germany. The concert was recorded by Peter Brandt and later that year released as one of the first records on the new Grover label titled You Must Be Crazy


  • March: German magazin Spex had a story on Rico on page 15: Volles Horn voraus! by Lars Albaum. The interview passed in review Ricos beginnings in Jamaica, Alpha School, Studio One, his emigration to England, the work with Georgie Fame, Man From Wareika, sessions with some of reggae's stars, the years 1979-1981 ("for two years he's participating to write an imporatnt chapter of British musical history"), his new live CD, and Rico's joy at seeing Chris Smith again. "Chris saw me on the street in Brixton. We hadn't seen us for 14 years. The boy came to me, lifted me and didn't let me down again. Both of us we laughed."


You Must Be Crazy 1975 C2 500

You Must be Crazy, 1999 cover


  • 11.11.: Live with The Roots To The Bone Band at El Sotano, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the concert was recorded, and parts were later released on the CD Togetherness


  • 27.1.: Laurel Aitken and Rico with Freetown at Club Ska 2000, London - see: Studio Won
  • 20.10.: Live with The Roots To The Bone Band at Niceto Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the concert was recorded and parts were released in 2003 on the CD Togetherness


  • July 2002 in Toronto, Canada, a two night 'Legends of Ska' concert was held. Reuniting were The Skatalites, Lloyd Knibbs, Rico Rodriguez, Lloyd Brevett, Lester Sterling, Johnny Moore and Lynn Taitt; along with Prince Buster, Alton Ellis, Owen Gray, Lord Creator, Justin Hinds, Derrick Harriott, Winston Samuels, Roy Wilson, Patsy Todd, Doreen Shaffer, Stranger Cole, Lord Tanamo and Derrick Morgan.[1][2].


  • Rico's 2nd live CD Togetherness is released by Jama Roots Records
  • 17.8.: Rico meets The Highnotes at Reggae Sundance, Eindhoven /NL; concert pics at Reggaephotos.de


  • 19.3.: ROTTERDAM SKA JAZZ FOUNDATION - RICO, Salle des Fêtes à Palaiseau; review and pictures at Reggaelution.net
  • 4.7.: at Summer Jam, Cologne /DE; pics at Reggaephotos.de
  • 30.10.: w/ Soulfood International, St. Gallen /CH; pics at Ska-Pics.de
  • 31.10.: w/ Soulfood International, Freiburg; pics at Ska-Pics.de; another picture at Jazzhausverein
  • November: Trojan Artist of the month; a special presentation on Trojan's web site coninciding the release of Rico's anthology 2CD set Trombone Man contained a discography of uk single releases, liner notes, scans of labels and articles on Rico; deleted (it's a real shame)
  • 4.12.: Live at Sala Apolo / Barcelona (?); pictures at La Factoria del Ritmo.com
  • Rico's essential album Man From Wareika from 1976 has been re-released in Japan: in its original mix as well as in the rare dub mix as Warrika Dub. The dub mix appears for the first time officially on CD.


  • 8.1.: Laurel Aitken & Friends, London, UK; pics at Ska-Pics.de; a DVD is available for the show.
  • 28.4.: Tübingen, 28.4.2005; pics at Ska-Pics.de
  • 29.4.: w/ Soulfood International, Winterthur /CH; pics at Ska-Pics.de
  • 14.8.: at Summersundae; pics at BBC no more available


  • June: Live at Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, see: SNWMF.com; a picture also at SNWMF.com
JapaRico 2006 C500

Japa Rico. Cover

Total Madness. Gaz Mayall introduced the band as the greatest ska band in the world, and few could say he was wrong as Madness rocked out an hour-long set with two encores They began their set with the hit 'One Step Beyond' proceeding with a number of crowd pleasers, all the while interjecting interesting bits of banter. It was a natty performance as Madness's frontmen were in matching suits and patent leather shoes, neckties pulled tightly around their neck. A highly of the show was saxophonist Rico Rodriguez who has made multiple appearances as a session musician throughout the 70's to the present day. After performing their allotted set, the crowd cheered them back as Gaz Mayall returned, leading the chant M-A-D-N-E-S-S. And the band obliged, playing a rare song not performed in 25 years, apparently once commissioned for a local automotive company. Reported by sean (2006.07.29 / 12:33) at Fujirockexpress.com

Absolute pick of FujiRock 06 = Madness. These guys are long time idols of mine. I grew up listening to their terrific tunes after I bought a pirate copy opf one of their albums from a dodgy guy at my high school. This cassette hailed from Thailand, and the lyrics printed bore little to no resemblance to the actual thing. These guys showed Japan this weekend that they haven't lost a thing in their near 20 year hiatus. Report by Dom, 30.7.2006 at Fujirockers.com

  • 17.8.: The Rude Pressures feat. Rico; Kid of the floating world writes on 17.8.: Best moment of the weekend: Sunday morning, 03.03. The Rude Pressures featuring Rico singing Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World (with mood-melting trombone solo):" at Wordpress.com; pictures by Maki at Fujirockers.org
  • August: recording session at Fizzé's studio in Weite /CH for his 4th part of Fizzé's Peeni Waali project called Sha; see Rico at Weite /CH on Mensch3000.ch
Sha 2006 300
  • September: Release of Peeni Waali vs. Schildplatt: [[Sha] (CD: Mensch Music /CH)
  • 4.9.: Release of Pama International: Trojan Sessions (CD: Trojan TJCCD 325 /UK)
  • September: release of Rico: Wareika Vibes (CD: Jamdown Prod. JAMUKCD008); Tracklist: : 1. The Count / 2. Sounds And Power / 3. Stranger Than Strange / 4. These Things Are True / 5. Another Longshot / 6. Victims Of Trust / 7. Clean Up / 8. Redeemer / 9. Wareika Vibes / 10. Romeo / 11. Rastaman Oasis

Rico started recording with Soulfood International: see Rootz.net Interview with Norbert Boll (in German language).


  • 6.1.: In concert w/ Nine, Grabenhalle, St. Gallen /CH; pictures at www.grabenhalle.ch
  • 9.1.: In concert at The Atomic Café, München /Germany; Norbert Jo. Bo. has published excellent pictures of this event at Fotocommunity ; the best picture is here: Fotocommunity; a short review in German at Rootz.net
  • 14.1.: In concert at Kfz, Marburg /Germany (3rd time live at KFZ Bühne)
  • 30.3.: Life w/ Soulfood International, Safari Palazo, Chur /CH
  • 31.3.: Life w/ Soulfood International, Festival Roots dans la vallée, Sallanches /France
  • March: Rico's new single "A Message To You, Rudy" appears on the market via Gover.
  • 14.4.: w/The BCN All Stars, Barcelona /ES
  • 15.4.: y sus Famosos, Madrid /ES

Both shows in Spain started with a documentary called "Rico Rodriguez - The Legacy". The trailer can be seen

at Liquidator Music
or at youtube.com

  • 2.5.: In concert at Radical Music Network Festival, Tokjo /Japan

Ska- und Reggaefans als auch Jamaica-Jazzliebhaber sollten den Auftritt von Rico Rodriguez aka „The Man from Wareika“ nicht verpassen, denn Rodriguez wird im Rahmen der aktuellen Tourneen seinen Abschied von der Bühne feiern. Nach zahllosen Veröffentlichungen und ebenso ungezählten Konzerten in allen Kontinenten wird der nunmehr 72-jährige die Studioarbeit den Tourneestrapazen der letzten 5 Jahrzehnte vorziehen. (From: Sommer In der Reduit.de, 29.5.2007)

  • 12.7.:He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace "for services to music" (see: The Queens list for 2007, p. 83).
  • During early summer Rico played in Jools Holland Orchestra
  • 11.8.: w/ Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra @ Somerleyton Hall, Suffolk
  • 19.8.: w/ Soulfood Intl. at 13. Chiemsee Reggae, Übersee /DE - see: www.liveeggae.de
  • 5.10.: at Bikini Test, La-Chaux-Des-Fonds /CH
  • 6.10.: w/ Soulfood Intl. at McCormacks, Leipzig /DE - see: www.livereggae.de


  • April: with Jools Holland at Alhambra Theatre Paris - Video at YouTube "The Final Encore" - "A lovely chilled out Reggae/Ska number : "I know where I am going" featuring legendary Jamacian trombonist Rico Rodriguez on vocals - helped, of course, by a very lively and enthuiastic audience in a good old fashioned sing-a-long."
  • July 4: with Jerry Dammers and The Spatial AKA Orchestra performing "Ghost Town" at the Love Music Hate Racism Festival in London's Victoria Park.


  • January 1: w/ Jools Holland on New Years Day, "L-O-V-E"
  • March/April: Tour w/ Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra


  • March, 4,5, and 7: w/ Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra in Coventy (Warwick Arts Center), Brighton (Dome). Pool (Lighthouse)

"Disguised in Ancient Egyptian stageware, the 18 members of the Orchestra became visible through their playing. Though each was awarded generous solo slots and introductions, they would be happy to admit they were overshadowed by the mere presence of the legendary ska and reggae trombonist, Rico Rodriguez." [3]

  • October 28: w/ Dick Cuthell at Gaz Rockin' Club in London - "Last night I went to Gaz's Rockin Blues in Soho and saw an absolutely blinding show by Rico and his band featuring special guest Dick Cuthell... [4]