The Specials’ trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies aged 80

Tributes paid to prolific ska and reggae trombonist Emmanuel ‘Rico’ Rodriguez

Jamaican ska and reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez photographed in Paris in 1980. Photograph: Chalkie Davies/Getty Images

Jamaican ska and reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez photographed in Paris in 1980. Photograph: Chalkie Davies/Getty Images

 

Rico Rodriguez, the trombonist and composer who performed with renowned ska revival band The Specials, has died aged 80.

His death was announced in a tweet issued by the band’s official Twitter account on Friday.

“Our dear friend Rico passed away today. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. His legacy will go on forever and a day. RIP dear Rico,” the tweet read.

Emmanuel ‘Rico’ Rodriguez was born in Cuba in 1934. He was raised in Kingston, Jamaica, where he was an influence on the burgeoning ska and reggae scene.

In the early 1960s he moved to the UK where he played in several bands before returning to Jamaica to record his own album Man from Wareika which was released on Jazz label Blue Note Records.

Rodriguez returned to Britain where his music had already found favour with the Jamaican community in London.

He played with numerous bands and musicians before playing trombone on The Specials’ A Message to you Rudy.

Their 1979 interpretation of Dandy Livingstone’s 1967 hit - a song Rodriguez had originally played on - made the English Top 10 and remains a ska favourite to this day.

Elvis Costello who produced The Special’s seminal eponymous debut album paid tribute:

“My condolences to his family and my friends in The Specials at the loss of the great Rico. What a moment it was to hear him play on “Rudy,” he tweeted.

In recognition for his contribution to music, Rodriguez - who also played with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra - received an MBE from the British Queen in 2007.