Lloyd Knibb, original drummer and co-founder of iconic ska pioneers the Skatalites, has died. He passed away at his home in Harbour View, St Andrew on Thursday May 12, following a battle with cancer. The Jamaican drummer was 80 years old.
Lloyd had been receiving treatment for the illness in the United States, but had returned to Jamaica shortly before his death.
A master percussionist, Lloyd contributed to every style of Jamaica's popular and not so popular musical forms, including jazz, mento, burru, nyabinghi, rock steady and, by extension, reggae and ska.
The Skatalites originally only stayed together for 18 months butdefined the music of an entire island for generations to come.
The Skatalites played initially between 1963 and 1965, and recorded many of their best known songs in the period, including Guns of Navarone. They also played on records by Prince Buster and many other Jamaican artists who recorded during the period.
It took some 20 years after breaking up for the band to reunite, not in their homeland but in New York.
Reportedly The Skatalites were initially simply trying to reproduce the American R&B music they heard, but Lloyd kept speeding up and syncopating the tempos; as a result the music that became known as ska was born.
Lloyd's last performance with them was this past April.
With his death, only two of the original band members remain: bass player Lloyd Brivette and alto sax player Lester Sterling.
The drummer is survived by his wife, five children, seven grandchildren, and a great grandchild.
Watch this video featuring Lloyd Knibb's last show in Peru on April 23, 2011: