Don Drummond: “Mr. Ska”: Genius + Madman = Screenplay?

This is an excerpt from the Don Drummond chapter in my Skatalites biography.

 

Don Drummond, reportedly in 1962. Photographer unknown.

Don Drummond, reportedly in 1962. Photographer unknown.

Part 1: 1932 – 1957

Did Denzel Washington pass up the chance to direct and star in a movie based on the life of Don Drummond? Nathan Breedlove, former Skatalites trumpeter, brought this information/rumor to the attention of the band in 1997. Whether Washington has ever heard of Drummond is an open question. Also, based on what source material could Washington have been pitched such a project?

Considering the meager amount of words written about Drummond, it seems unlikely a pitch was made. Breedlove didn’t identify the source of his information.

Is a film starring Denzel Washington as the brilliant but socially challenged trombonist a crazy dream? All the elements are there for a three-act play or a Hollywood movie. In a Jamaican rags to riches story, Drummond was a man at the peak of his game, top soloist in the best band in the land, when he met his demise. The featured performer of the group that launched Bob Marley, Drummond was brought down by his intense love for, and jealousy of, a woman famous for suggestive Rhumba dancing.

Drummond gained fame, but hardly riches, before the fateful night. After he met his femme fatale, Marguerita, they lived wildly before he took her life in a fit of passion. Later that day the band debuted Drummond’s arrangement of “The Guns of Navarone” without him, due to his incarceration.

Drummond’s trial was a spectacular affair that generated enormous crowds in downtown Kingston. His defense included barrister P. J. Patterson, who went on to become the island’s longest serving Prime Minister. It’s said that Patterson lost the case and that’s why Drummond was convicted and remanded to the Bellevue Sanitarium. But he could’ve been sentenced to hang. Instead, Drummond languished in Bellevue for three years before dying under mysterious circumstances.

Stories about Drummond’s demise spread like wildfire during his crowded wake, prompting a musician to loudly demand that the casket be opened. That demand precipitated a riot, causing police to shut down the funeral home. All the hullabaloo prompted a hush-hush burial. Speculation continues as to what caused his death at the age of 37. With enough attention brought to bear, we may yet learn the answers.

Donald Willis “Don” Drummond was born on March 12, 1932, at Jubilee Hospital in Kingston. He died May 6, 1969, in Kingston’s Bellevue Sanitarium.  Birth registration forms generated since 2000 have 1934, but I’m more confident in Alpha School records with 1932 as Drummond’s birthdate.

Drummond was a trombonist, bandleader, composer and arranger. He was also an unacknowledged lyricist and singer. He joined the Alpha School Band in 1945 and achieved level 5 before leaving school on December 9, 1950, for employment with Eric Deans band. He was popularly known as “The Don” and “Mr. Ska.”

His nickname “Don Cosmic” was coined by Clement Dodd. Asked why, Dodd explained that Drummond had an abiding interest in space and the planets. “He didn’t talk much but he was interested in comets and planets and rocks from space that they call meteors. Sometimes when I talked to him about music he’d be talking about the planets and comets, so I start call him Don Cosmic and he liked it. That help get his attention.” [1]

Drummond was the first instrumentalist to top the Jamaican pop charts when his composition “Schooling the Duke,” titled by its producer Clement Dodd, hit the #1 spot in spring, 1962.

There are a multitude of misconceptions about Donald Drummond. From false attributions of music to incorrect dates for his birth and death.

The great Headley Jones asserted in an interview published in Ray Hurford’s More Axe that Drummond never travelled outside Jamaica, and therefore that explained some part of the man. However, Jones was incorrect. In fact, the time Drummond spent abroad, at least six months, was more than likely a formative experience. Drummond first travelled with Eric Deans band to Port Au Prince, Haiti, on November 10, 1950.  That trip was for one month and was then extended for ten days.  Drummond returned to Haiti with Deans Band for a three-month engagement on February 22, 1951.

Speculation about the mental illness that plagued Drummond and reportedly his father too, has centered on schizophrenia. Rather than ruminate on his mental illness, I’ve sought to report what his teacher, friends and fellow musicians remembered about him.

An archaic description fits Drummond well. Idiot savant, or learned idiot. “A mentally defective person with an exceptional skill or talent in a special field, as a highly developed ability to play music or to do arithmetic calculations.” [2]

There’s no question that Drummond possessed “a highly developed ability to play music.” That ability and talent was brought out through the instruction he received at the Alpha School. Drummond arrived at the school after living with his mother Doris Maud Munroe at a variety of addresses and accommodations around Kingston, including 26 Potters Row in Rae Town. His father Uriah Adolphus Drummond lived with them sometimes, but reportedly he was a patient at the Bellevue Asylum for extended periods. When Don was a student at Alpha, his mother resided near to the school in Allman Town.

Post-Alpha School, Drummond lived with his mother in two rooms off Love Lane in downtown Kingston, not far from the liquor store of Doris Darlington, mother of Clement Dodd.

After leaving school, according to Sister Ignatius, Drummond used to come back to Alpha regularly to see Winston “Skipper” Edwards, who was a printer and taught the trade to the boys.

Drummond tutored the younger trombonists when he was in the senior band at Alpha, instructing Rico Rodriguez, among others. Rodriguez recalled that “Drummond was a quiet person, but was a very strict teacher. We were friends, but when it came to teaching, it was very serious. If Drummond didn’t teach me so well, and the bandmaster came along to check on you, and you were not that good, that reflected on the teacher. So the standard had to be there at all times.”

Sister Ignatius, November 1998.  Photo by Brian Keyo.

Sister Ignatius, November 11, 1998. Copyright B. Keyo.

It’s been reported that Drummond returned to Alpha to teach sometime after he left school for Eric Deans band in 1950. However, Sister Ignatius, who taught Drummond when he was a student, insisted that he did not return to the school to teach after graduating.

“No, Don was never a teacher at Alpha. He didn’t come back here except to visit with his friend Skipper. He did work as a tutor as many of the senior boys would. But that was when he was still at school. With the younger students who were still learning their instruments. Those boys would need encouragement to do their practices and the older boys in the band would practice with them.” [3]

Prior to being remanded to the Alpha School by the Resident Magistrate’s Court, Drummond attended Franklin Town Primary School. That’s where he was enrolled when his truancy became a problem. He entered the Alpha school at age 9, “because his mother could no longer tolerate his chronic truancy,” according to his school record.

Drummond started off slowly at Alpha, taking three years to complete level two. But he managed to complete level five before leaving. He became a prominent member of the school band, known for his soloing.

Lester Sterling, a classmate and fellow member of the Alpha School band, three levels/years younger than Don, recalled that Drummond’s first instrument was an E Flat horn. Sterling claimed it had the same fingering as a trumpet and that the Salvation Army band played them. However, Sterling’s elder brother Roy had a slightly different recollection of Drummond’s first horn.

“Don’s first instrument in the Alpha band was a flugelhorn. When Delgado took over the band he put Don on trumpet. But that didn’t work out. Don wasn’t suited for the trumpet so Delgado put him on trombone and that was it. We were in the band together for a few years. I leave school in 1952, one year after Don, and I joined Deans band which he was in. They were based at Bournemouth Beach Club then, but I also play with them at Colony Club.

Don was an amazing musician, just amazing. People say how great he was but those people didn’t know him like I knew him. We were good friends in school and I used to spend time with him outside of school too. He live just above us in Allman Town.” [4]

BK: Do you remember on what street?

Roy Sterling: “Yes, man. Don live on Hitchin Street. He only live with his mother. Sorry, I don’t remember much about her. Just that she leave in the morning to go work and she return in the evening. Don never stop practice, never. Don could play with any band in the world, any band, because he could read anything. Reuben Delgado, our bandleader, used to talk about him as an amazing reader. He would put different things, Classical or Jazz, in front of Don and he could read it all. We were in awe of him. Best reader in the band during my time at Alpha. Delgado used to say that Don could transpose anything from anything to anything.” [5]

Reuben Delgado was a graduate of Alpha, and like many Alpha “boys,” he joined the Jamaican Military Band. As Roy Sterling mentioned, Delgado took over the school band in the 1940s. His tenure as Bandmaster was from 1947 until 1954. Therefore Delgado had Drummond for at least three years and, according to Roy, deserves the credit for putting him on trombone.

Lester Sterling remembered how when Drummond started in the school band they were in the trumpet section together with one other player, Dennis Mitchell.

Johnny Moore recalled how quiet and introspective Drummond was as a schoolboy at Alpha. “He rarely talked and hardly ever laugh. Don always studied music by reading piano books. Whereas most trombone players would study, read and practice from a trombone book, Don always used piano books.” [6]

Moore’s recollections of school days include how Drummond would often sit under the “dibby dibby tree,” studying his piano book for hours, alone. The tree is described by Moore as having broad green leaves, but he couldn’t recall its proper name. He did recall it was the only one of its kind on the grounds of Alpha. Moore mentioned that Roy Sterling was one of his teachers and mentors at Alpha.

Our conversation took place while travelling from Moore’s place in Kingston to Oracabessa on the North Coast to see the Skatalites perform at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. Shortly after arriving at the Festival, Moore and I were surprised to see Roy Sterling backstage. He and Moore spent much of the evening catching up.

Roy Sterling and Johnny "Dizzy" Moore backstage, November 8, 1998.

Roy Sterling and Johnny “Dizzy” Moore backstage, November 8, 1998. Copyright B. Keyo.

Queried about where Drummond was living when he first knew him, Moore replied that during the 1950s, while he was living at Kingston Gardens, Drummond resided on Hitchin Street, near to Heroes Circle. He added that Lester Sterling resided at Great George Street, across from a bar at the time.

A remembrance of Drummond by Winston Smith was published by Jamaicans.com on August 23, 2010. Smith recounted that Drummond’s residence was on Robert Street in Allman Town. That address wasn’t far from Race Course, and Smith detailed an evening out with his friend Don when they crossed over to Slipe Road and took in a movie at the Tropical Theatre.

When touring Kingston with Lloyd Knibb in 1996, Knibb had me stop on Slipe Road in front of a large church, current occupant of the former Tropical Theatre. We took a few photos and Knibb reminisced about the Skatalites playing there.

The former Tropical Theatre in 1998.

The former Tropical Theatre in 1996. Copyright B. Keyo.

Sister Ignatius taught Drummond at the Alpha School in the late 1940s when both were youthful. When we spoke in 1998, she was the octogenarian headmistress. Interviewed while sporting a poppy on her habit for Remembrance Day, Sister began by reading from school records while seated behind her desk on the second floor of the Administration building.

“Donald Drummond was admitted to Alpha on December 10, 1943, and left on December 9, 1950. [I have to conclude the departure date was for administrative purposes and connected to his admission date as Drummond left school three months prior and was in Haiti on December 9, 1950.] He played in the band from early 1945, trombone, showed great promise on trombone- Grade 5- good scholar.

He spent a short while in the Tile Factory and the Tailoring Department. Donald did not show much interest in games, his whole mind was on his music. After leaving school he played with Eric Deans and toured some of the Caribbean islands.

When Don left Alpha on December 9, 1950, it was to join the Colony Club Orchestra led by Eric Deans.”

She noted that, “In school, Donald was very neat and clean, soft spoken and well mannered. He was somewhat withdrawn.”

While Drummond was at the school he had a discipline problem with a fellow student and was punished over it. According to saxophonist Headley Bennett, Drummond was provoked by Calvin Patterson for two days before he reacted. Drummond was later punished for wounding Patterson with a metal object.

An advertisement from The Star, November 1951.

An advertisement from The Star, November 1951.

While there may not be a photo of the Alpha Boys Band that includes Drummond, there’s a 1951 picture from the Colony Club in Kingston of the Eric Deans band that does. Within months of leaving Alpha, Drummond is on the stand with his trombone, amidst fellow orchestra members Ernest Ranglin on guitar, Jocelyn “Blue Blue” Buchanan on tenor sax, Reuben Alexander on tenor sax, Sam Watson on drums, Roy Shurland on vocals, Lester Williams on trumpet, Linton Thomas on piano and Deans on alto saxophone. A large print of this photo was published in the book Reggae Explosion.

From left, Drummond on trombone and Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton and Lester Williams on trumpets, all with mutes.  Colony Club, 1951.  Photographer unknown.

From left, Drummond on trombone, Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton and Lester Williams on trumpets, all with mutes. Colony Club, 1951. Photographer unknown.

The band that Drummond joined was known as Eric Deans All Stars when performing outside of the Colony Club. This was Eric Deans second band. The All Stars were organized after the Liberators, formed in the 1940s, had broken up. The Liberators had included Tommy McCook and trumpeter Raymond Harper.

Deans bands became known for accepting foreign engagements and Deans personally for his mining of local styles while abroad. The first foreign engagement Drummond had the opportunity to play with Deans was in Haiti. One of the reasons reported that they were to travel there on February 22, 1951, was for Eric Deans Band to make their first recordings. [7]  Among the clubs played was Cabanne Chocune, in the capital, Port Au Prince.

Reportedly, the shows went well and Drummond in particular was lauded for his playing in the Haitian press. Perhaps as he was doing well, his leader decided not to give Drummond some bad news from home.

According to Ernest Ranglin, “Drummond was very close to his grandmother. During our three-month stay in Haiti, Deans received word that Drummond’s grandmother had died. He chose not to tell Drummond until the engagement was over.”

The trombonist reportedly did not take the news well.  However, Drummond remained with Deans All Stars and even made a return trip to Haiti with the band, according to Ernest Ranglin, who didn’t make that trip.

McCook recalled the time when Drummond began as a professional musician. “Don came on the scene initially about ’52. He became very popular and was playing with good bands at the time. He was a member of the band that backed Sarah Vaughan (the leading Afro-American jazz singer). when she came to Jamaica and performed at the Glass Bucket club. She heard him for the first time and told the Jamaican public that she figured he was rated in the first five in the world. From then on Don lived up to what Sarah had said – he was even thought of at one time as being the best in the world. His tone on the trombone, his approach, everything was so perfect. I considered him a genius on his instrument. Even other players of the instrument expressed this, and they should know.” [8]

“Don’s playing was so mournful, you could cry inside. Sarah Vaughan came to Jamaica in 1951 or 2 and rated him as one of the ten best in the world, and that set him off. He practiced on his instrument more than anyone I know, that’s why he was the best.” [9]

McCook’s account hits on a common theme about Drummond, his work ethic when it came to his instrument.

Drummond’s third trip abroad with Eric Deans was to Nassau, Bahamas for a summer 1953 engagement at a hotel. According to the columnist “Sand man,” Deans brought a dancer home with his band.

“Joyce Sands, a saucy hip-swinger from the Bahamas where Deans was under contract. They’re putting on a welcome shin-dig for Deans and the boys at Silver Slipper Monday night when Miss Sands is scheduled to enliven the proceedings with samples of the act by which she has come to be called ‘Queen of the rhumba’ . . .” [10]

A publicity photo was taken of Drummond in 1952 or ’53, according to the late Sonny Bradshaw, who was kind enough to supply a copy. The photo was part of promotions Drummond was involved in to create a Jamaican big band.  He’d been involved in the endeavor since leaving Alpha. Many bandleaders had been trying to put together a large group with enough star power to fill the Carib, the largest theatre in the West Indies.

IMGdd

A tuxedoed Don, 1952 or ’53. Photo by Sonny Bradshaw.

In 1953, a big push towards that end was given by Mr. Charles Richardson, Radio Jamaica’s new program director. With his assistance, a 21 member band was formed. It became known as the “Show Band of the Air” due to its affiliation with Radio Jamaica. On September 21, 1953, the group’s debut was broadcast from the Carib Theatre and featured a string section and two singers.

The listing of the band members in the local press prompted the suggestion that, “The 21-member (instrumentalists and vocalists) is probably the largest non-classical group ever assembled on a local stage.” [11]

Headlined, “Now – Salute Jamaica’s Big New Band!” the story by “R. L.” noted the backers and that, “Roy Lawrence will emcee the first programme and Ranny Williams will wisecrack.”

The band was led by George Moxey on piano, and the saxophone section included, “Vincente Palomino (alto); Bobby Gaynair (tenor); Claud Goulbourn (alto); Mickey O’Brien [sic] (tenor); Julio Gonsalves (baritone); Trumpets: Vincent Hylton, Canute Carr; Junior Sterling. Trombones: Donald Drummond, John Nelson, Roy Beckford. Violins: Flo Wilson, Donnie McIntosh, Willie Wilson, George Neilson. Rhythm: Tinny Wilson (bass); ‘Papa Son’ Henry (drums), Janet Enright (guitar). Vocals: Carlisle Heywood, Mercedes Kirkwood.” [12]

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Drummond’s name was the first listed under the trombonists. He was tops on the scene. The next year, 1954, saw Drummond voted “Best Trombonist” in Jamaica in a poll organized and conducted by The Gleaner newspaper.

The annotation to Drummond’s Best Of LP, released by Clement Dodd, reported that during 1955, “in failing health, he formed The Don Drummond Four who gave a remarkable performance at the tercentenary Jazz concert.”

There were several concerts celebrating the 300th anniversary of British rule in Jamaica, but I think the “300 Jazz Concert at the Carib,” held November 9, 1955 and promoted by Lloyd Adams, was the show referenced in the annotation. Of nine advertised acts, the Don Drummond Four received top billing, likely meaning they commanded the highest fee.

Don Drummond, 1955.

Don Drummond, 1955.

I think the “Four” were guitarist Janet Enright, pianist Alfred “Baba” Motta, drummer Donald Jarrett and tenor saxophonist Bobby Gaynair or perhaps Roland Alphonso. The “failing health” referred unfortunately to Drummond’s mental state, as stories of erratic behavior on and off the bandstand were spreading.

Stories and odd behavior aside, Drummond was a bandleader in 1955 and his group received top or equal billing with established acts. Another example was when Don & His All Stars shared a bill with Sonny Bradshaw and his Seven at Bournemouth on May 21. That evening also featured an orchestra drawn from both groups that entertained after sets by each act.

Don Drummond was leading his own group by the spring of 1955.

Don Drummond was leading his own group by May, 1955.

In the June 8, 1955, edition of The Star, there’s an ad for a show titled “Constellation 300” which billed “Marguerita” as a performer, along “with the All Star Band consisting of Don Drummond – Janet Enwright[sic] – Baba Motta – Don Jarrett – Young Gaynair – Roland Alfonso.”

Anita “Marguerita” Mahfood performed interpretative dance but became famous as a “Rhumba Dancer.” As early as 1955, Mahfood was doing her thing on Kingston stages. With future paramour Drummond on the same bill, one can reasonably conclude that from 1955 he was aware of her. Also on the bill that evening was “Young Gaynair” otherwise known as Bobby. His elder sibling, Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair, lived in Germany for much of his life and played and recorded with that country’s Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra.

The combination of acclaim and his growing stature as a composer and bandleader apparently had begun to take a toll on Drummond. In June, it was noted that, “Don Drummond was dropped out of the Rialto series of shows because his financial demands were rocketing towards stratospheric regions. If his financial parachute doesn’t get punctured he will not appear on the Jazz concert either.” [13]

Advertisement for June 8, 1955 show at which Marguerita and Drummond were each billed to appear.

Advertisement for June 8, 1955 show at which Marguerita and Drummond were each billed to appear.

The same column, written by “Batman” [Sonny Bradshaw], also noted that, “there is the Ivory Club Tercentenary Barn Dance at Bournemouth on July 2. Don Drummond plays, assisted by Foggy Mullings and Janet Enwright[sic].” [“Foggy” was the nickname of pianist Seymour Mullings, who later served Jamaica as an MP and as Ambassador to the United States. He died October 9, 2013.]

At some point between 1954 and 1956, Drummond spent time with tenor saxophonist Wilton “Bogey” Gaynair’s band at the Glass Bucket Club.

“Gaynair was the best saxophonist in Jamaica before he leave for England and when he arrived, he was the best over there. He was better than Tubby Hayes and Johnny somebody who everyone did rate as best in England. When Gaynair played on stage he used to dance so they called him ‘Bogey’ Gaynair [pronounced boogie]. He went on to play for years with the Hamburg Philharmonic in Germany,” recalled trumpeter Roy Edwards. [14]  IMGAdastra

Either just before or after he was with Gaynair’s band at the Bucket, Drummond played in saxophonist Tony Brown’s aggregation, which included a young Headley Bennett.

He also often worked with trumpeter Vivian Hall, such as on Easter Monday, April 2nd, 1956 when Drummond was featured with Hall and his Orchestra at Adastra Garden in Kingston.

IMGChampion There were other brief engagements such as taking the place of a trombonist.

“He had was to take over for Vernon Muller in Roy Coburn’s band when Mullo went back to Germany,” according to Granville Darby, first cousin of Tommy McCook. [15]  Coburn’s band at the time included Rolando Alphonso.

During June, 1956, Drummond performed with the Modern Jazz Group at the UCWI Student Union. Advertisements of that performance included a photo in which he smiles at the camera and is not bespectacled.

On July 9, The Don Drummond Quintette played Champion House with Vivian Hall. Located at the corner of Maxfield Avenue and Lyndhurst Road, Champion House also featured ‘The Great Sebastian,’ running Tom’s Sound System that night.

On July 21 and 22nd, Drummond was in the trombone section, along with Vernon Muller and Carlos Malcolm, backing American singer Sarah Vaughan.

Sarah Vaughan on stage at the Tropical Theatre, July 21, 1956.  Drummond is in the middle row, far right.  Bandleader Sonny Bradshaw is standing above him.

Sarah Vaughan on stage at the Tropical Theatre, July 21, 1956. Drummond is in the middle row, far right. Bandleader Sonny Bradshaw is standing above him. Photo by Carl A. L. McDonald.

In late 1956, or early in 1957, Drummond was hospitalized for the first time at the Bellevue Sanitarium. As a school chum and bandmate, Roy Sterling was taken aback when told that Drummond was in the island’s mental health facility.

“I went and visited Don the first time he went into asylum. I was surprised to hear about it and thought I should go see him. He was in a place like a cage when I visit him at asylum. He was the only person in there, just alone in this cage place. This was before Don do any recording, around 1957. Before I see Don, they tell me not to go too close to him in the cage and I laughed. I know Don from so long and I never feel he’s a dangerous guy. I told Don about a trombonist, Rico Rodriguez, who had started recording with Duke Reid. That Don was a better trombonist than Rico and that he must come out and start recording himself. Soon after that he did come out and start recording.” [16] R-3675737-1340204399-6844.jpeg

Don Drummond’s first recording was made at the urging of Clement Dodd, likely in 1957. It was cut at the Federal Recording Studio and featured Owen Gray singing a “special” extolling the virtues of dancing to Dodd’s Sir Coxson’s Down Beat sound system. “On the Beach” was recorded specifically for sound system use, and Gray recalled that initial pressings were on 78 rpm records. When the tune was finally released to the public months later, it was pressed on the new medium for music, 7” 45’s.

Soon after recording “On the Beach,” Drummond became a patient at Bellevue for the second time. He went there voluntarily and therefore was able to come and go as he felt able. Later that year, Drummond was well enough to make his comeback on the music scene. Coxson Dodd quickly had him cut several tunes, including an instrumental which the producer titled “That Man Is Back.”

Known alternately as “This Man Is Back,” the song was another hit that could be heard exclusively on Dodd’s sound system, therefore whetting the public’s appetite for live appearances by ‘That Man.’ The open declaration of the title made it apparent that Drummond had been gone, and word spread rapidly about where he’d been. that ma is back

The public soon had more dramatic news on “That Man”- another hospitalization. However, it wasn’t at Bellevue. This time it was for his physical health. The drama was heightened by news that Drummond had new musical endeavors on his mind. According to an article in The Star, Drummond was severely injured in October, 1957, and was in the hospital for over a week. Intrepid columnist “Batman” gave an account in a news item titled “Down But Not Out.”

“Last month, trombonist Don Drummond was hit down by a motor car and was hospitalised for about a fortnight. When he left his sick bed and returned home he found that his room has been broken into and that everything had been stolen save the clothes on his back and apparel he had left with the cleaners. Don told me this week that he is down, but not out, and his attitude is only in keeping with his motto, ‘For better or worse, forward march.’ Don has written a blues number which he intends to sing and play at his next public engagement. It goes:

“Blue-I’m a blue boy,

Ooo-Ooo-Ooo-I’m a blue boy now.

I got nowhere to stay, Now where should I stray,

What to do-oo, I’m a blue boy now.

I go to the sea, it’s free,

I step through the gate, no mate,

Oh, what a st-a-te, oh fate!

I got no one to whom I can relate.

Oh blue-I’m a blue boy,

Ooo-Ooo-Ooo-I’m a blue boy now.

I got no one to miss,

Me, I got no one to kiss,

Me-What to Do-ooo

I’m a blue boy now.”

We can only wonder if that song was ever performed for an audience or recorded at a session. Drummond didn’t forget his vocal aspirations, though he was a star instrumentalist. Reportedly, Drummond performed as a vocalist on stage in front of an audience during 1964. Kingston correspondent Richard Fletcher was conversing with a fellow reveler at an occasion in the Havendale community in memory of the late journalist “Maco” MacNeish, when the subject of Don Drummond came up. Fletcher was told that during a Skatalites concert at Sirgany’s Beach Club, 37 Slip Dock Road, Drummond turned his back to the audience, instructed the band to accompany him, and proceeded to sing “Polkadots and Moonbeams.”  Producer Justin Yap also recorded Don Drummond singing, more on that to come.

– TO BE CONTINUED-

EXCERPT #2 SOON COME.

 

End Notes

1. Clement Dodd interviewed by the author, May 16, 1997.

2. Page 668, Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991.

3. Sister Ignatius interviewed by the author, November 11, 1998.

4. Roy Sterling interviewed by the author, November 8, 1998.

5. ibid.

6. “Dizzy” Johnny Moore interviewed by the author, July 24, 2002.

7. Page 6, The Daily Gleaner, January 12, 1951.

8. Page 55, Reggae: Deep Roots Music, Howard Johnson and Jim Pines, Proteus Books, 1982.

9. Tommy McCook interviewed by the author, May 22, 1997.

10. “Sand man,” The Star, September 4, 1953.

11. The Star, Wednesday, September 16, 1953.

12. ibid.

13. The Star, June 24, 1955.

14. Roy Edwards interviewed by the author, May 22, 2011.

15. Granville Darby interviewed by the author, October 10, 2003.

16. Roy Sterling interviewed by the author, November 8, 1998.

 

Thanks and respect are due to many for their assistance.  First, to those that have left us, including Sister Ignatius, Clement Dodd, Lloyd Knibb, Tommy McCook, “Dizzy” Johnny Moore, Roy Sterling, Sonny Bradshaw, Justin Yap and Rolando Alphonso.  Also to Richard Fletcher, Roberto Sterle, Ray Hurford, Rico Rodriguez, Lester Sterling, Ernest Ranglin, Roy Edwards, Granville Darby, Headley Bennett, Roberto Moore and Michelle Keyo.

-THE END-

© 2015