Jamaican pioneer of ska sound loses battle with cancer at age of 80

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AN INFLUENTIAL Jamaican drummer who helped develop and popularise the ska beat has died at the age of 80.

Lloyd Knibb’s wife, Enid, confirmed that her husband died from liver cancer late on Thursday.

He had been receiving treatment in the US but had returned to Jamaica this week.

Knibb was an original member of The Skatalites, a Jamaican ska and reggae band created in 1964. His frenetic style was one of the band’s hallmarks.

The Skatalites split up during the 1960s, but reunited two decades later in New York.

Two of their albums were nominated for Grammy awards.

Knibb last performed with The Skatalites in April.

Like many musicians performing during the 1940s, Knibb first honed his craft playing in jazz bands. His first professional engagement was with the Val Bennett band, but it was with Eric Dean’s band where he gained the technical skills to play many styles.

Eric Dean’s set list included the big band music of Glen Miller as well as the popular dances of the day such as rumba, Cha-cha and bolero.

Knibb’s technical proficiency and wide knowledge of styles soon led to him being featured on the recordings of Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Sonia Pottinger and Duke Reid.

Knibb gained his widest audience, however, as the drummer for The Skatalites.

He is survived by his widow, five children, seven grandchildren and a great grandchild.