Legendary Skatalites’ Drummer Lloyd Knibbs passes away.
Primarily known for developing the sound of Ska alongside the Skatalites Ska ‘Supergroup’ of the 1960s Lloyd Knibbs was a true foundation stone in the sonic wall of Jamaican sound. A pivotal point about which the music has since turned.
Legend has it that he started off his percussive career on little else than boxes and bean tins, and was taken on for his rhythmic apprenticeship by the likes of Sonny Bradshaw and Eric Deans, both highly respected band leaders of on island show bands in the early and pre-Ska days of Jamaican music.
Like so much else in Jamaica ‘the drums’ are a physical trace of the African current running through the islands cultural life and Knibbs carried and channeled this tradition. More than any other instrument, percusssion retains a thread of history and ancestry within Jamaican music and as a drummer Knibbs was the living embodiment of ‘Roots Music’.
Yet is was his role in generating and creating Jamaica’s first truly self-proclaimed musical style that draws main interest.
Ska took the form of pre independence excitement and mixed it with musical influences far and wide, American Jazz, Black US R&B, Mento and Calypso; yet in this re-configuration a new overview was required, a new glue to stick all these diverging elements together in the new form, that of Ska.
If you listen to the arrangement and instrumentation of a typical Ska piece, more than any other element in the whole, the rhythm and therefore the drumming were re-invented, re-styled, re-configured, adapted and re-arranged to shape Ska and it’s individuality. Knibbs was the most important Ska drummer on the island at that or any other time and he therefore was quite possibly the most important figure in and to Ska music, a style which once invented lives on to this day in countless bands Worldwide.
Post Ska Knibbs made all the right choices and went on to drum for Tommy McCook and the Supersonics, the chief house band at Treasure Isle and the slickest and possibly most influential of the Rocksteady era.
He was born in 1931 in Kingston Jamaica, and died of Liver cancer, having returned in the last hours of his life to Jamaica from the States where he had lived for some time on the 12th May 2011.