DON DRUMMOND (b. 1932 - † 1969)
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1960-1964 - Trojan - studio - discs:2
Don Drummond was born in Kingston, Jamaica on March 12th 1932. In 1943 his mother enrolled hin at the famous Alpha Boys School. In 1950 Don was discovered by Eric Deans, leader of one of the many bands that played in the hotel circuit at that time. After the audition the troublesome Don was immediately enlisted to play in the Eric Deans Orchestra as a trombonist. Don's reputation grew rapidly when in 1954 he won the Jamaica's "Best Trombonist" award. Around this time he met Anita Mahfood, a "Rhumba" dancer that performed under the name Marguerita. Soon started an affair between the two. On the musical front, Don's skills proved that he was one of the highest talented trombonists around. By the end of the 50's the legendary Sir Coxsone Dodd was the first to employ Don for a session. The result is quite obscure: some say it was Owen Gray's "On The Beach", others say it was an instrumental called "Don Cosmic". Whatever the track, by the beginning of the 60's Don's presence in Studios grew radically. But in the meantime his mental conditions got worst and his melancholia and depressions grew as well. In 1963 he played along with some great musicians as Ronald Alphonso (tenor sax), Cluett Johnson (bass) and Ernest Ranglin (guitar). During the same period Don also joyned a band put together by another Alpha Boys School former student, the stellar Tommy McCook. The musicans involved were Alphonso, Ranglin, Billy Cooke (trumpet), Leslie Butler and Cecil Lloyd (piano), Lloyd Mason (bass) and Carl McLeod (drums). The highly Jazz influenced material was cut for Dood and the result was the "Jazz Jamaica From The Workshop" album. There were no concessions to Ska but when Millie Small's huge "My Boy Lollipop" hit internationally McCook changed his mind. By spring of 1964 he put together the gratest Jamaican ensamble ever existed. The players were Don, Alphonso, Lester "Ska" Sterling (alto sax), Johnny "Dizzy" Moore (trumpet), Lloyd Brevett (drums), Jerome "Jah Jerry" Haines (guitar) and the young Donat Roy "Jackie" Mittoo (keyboards). The Skatalites were born and since then Ska was never the same! For the rest of the year the band cut for the top Jamaican producers, including of course Duke Reid. Don's life changed forever when on January 2nd, 1965 he allegedly killed Marguerita. He proclaimed his innocence, saying that the wounds were self inflicted. In July he was proclaimed guilty and sent to the Bellevue Hospital, an institution for lunatics. By 1969 the Skatalites were history and the sound changed to Rocksteady. On May 6th 1969 Don was found dead in his cell. Soon after his death Duke Reid released what is presented here: a collection of twelve tracks recorded during Don's short career. The list of the tracks reads: "Garden Of Love", "Feeling Fine", "Dearest", "Street Corner", "Latin Goes Ska", "Green Island", "Silver Dollar", "Let George Do It", "Woman A Come", "Knock Out Punch", "Dr Decker" and "Occupation". The tapes were remixed in 1969 with the addition of Winston Wright organ, and were mixed by Errol Brown and Carlton Hamil. The collection also delivers the only vocal recording by Marguerita: the Burru drums filled "Woman A Come". The album was initially released as "Don Drummond's Greatest Hits" and some months later reissued by Trojan as "Memorial Album". The present double CDs release has some specials. Besides the remixed twelve tracks all the originals can be found for the finest ears of those that already know or want to discover who Drummond was and still remains inside the history of the Jamaican music. The originals are far better of what was remixed in 1969 and your attention should be payed there. Strong music, perfectly performed and totally heartfelt by those that played during those sessions! In 1974 Trojan released an accompaniment collection called "Tommy McCook". That one was actually an album originally called "The Skatalite" from 1964. This can be found in the 2009 release that we are commenting here but for the proper comments please see the Tommy McCook's page of this site.