Lloyd Knibb, the drummer and a founding member of the Skatalites, has died of liver cancer in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 80 years old.
The Skatalites impact on modern pop music far outweighed their notable commercial success. The band created a sound that influenced generations of musicians from classic reggae artists such as Bob Marley and Toots And The Maytals to '80s English bands like Madness, to American punks and ska-influenced bands such as No Doubt, 311 and the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. Without them it is hard to imagine styles such as reggae, rocksteady, and dub. Rolling Stone said the group was "Jamaica's answer to the Motown backing bands and Booker T and The MG's all in one."
The band's genesis occurred at the Alpha School in Jamaica, a Catholic-run institution where many of the group's founders first played together in school bands. Many of them played in pop bands and studio recordings before the group fully coalesced in the early '60s with a tight mix of stabby horns, deep groove, and choppy syncopations.
The Skatalites perform their '60s hit "The Guns of Navarone" at the Glastonbury Festival in 2007.
Knibb died Thursday in the company of his friends and family, the Jamaica Observer reported. After being told he had three days to live he asked to be flown home to Jamaica from the U.S. Only bassist Lloyd Brivette and alto saxophonist Lester Sterling remain among the original members who started the group fifty years ago.
Knibb's influence on Jamaican music can hardly be overstated. He was the father of pop drumming in Jamaica. "Lloyd Knibb is a very, very important musician when it comes to the unfolding of Jamaican music because he was really into the whole tradition of the music," said Herbie Miller, director of the Jamaica Music Museum.