Saturday, July 12, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Don Drummond

Artist:Don Drummond
Song:Roll On Sweet Don
Album:The Best Of Don Drummond

As a studio musician and founding member of The Skatalites, trombonist Don Drummond was a key figure in the development of Jamaican music in the early 60s. Sadly, mental health issues led to his 1969 death. So he is somewhat of a forgotten legend. He was born Mar. 12, 1932 in Kingston, Jamaica. He started out as a jazz musician in the early 50s. But by the late 50s he was a studio musician working for Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. Drummond wrote over 300 songs and played on hundreds of records in the early days of ska. And he was a member of The Skatalites when they were formed in 1964. And they were one of the most important groups in Jamaican music history. Occasional songs like Roll On Sweet Don were released as Don Drummond as opposed to The Skatalites. The guys never knew what Dodd would do with the songs. Drummond wrote Roll On Sweet Don with Skatalites sax player Roland Alphonso and there may have been some debate about whose name would be on the record label. You can get it on this comp that was first released in 1989 and re-released in 2011. There is a different song originally called Heaven and Earth that was retitled Roll On Sweet Don after Drummond's death. Drummond suffered from manic depression and his erratic behaviour earned him the nickname Cosmic Don. The Skatalites and Drummond's career came to an end when Drummond was arrested on New Year's Day 1965 for the murder of his exotic dancer girlfriend Marguerita Mahfood. Her body was found in his home with mutiple stab wounds. Drummond was declared legally insane and committed to a mental hospital. He died there on May 6, 1969 at age 37. There have been various theories about Drummond's death. But in the 2013 biography Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World's Greatest Trombonist, author Heather Augustyn says Drummond's death was caused by his medications. So of course the hospital wanted to cover it up. BTW, Delfeayo Marsalis wrote the forward to this book. So a sad and premature end to a musical pioneer. Here's a video for Roll On Sweet Don by Don Drummond.

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