Lloyd Brevett, the upright bass player and founding member of the seminal Jamaican ska group The Skatalites, died this morning at Andrews Memorial Hospital in St. Andrew, Jamaica where he was being treated following a stroke and a series of seizures. He was 80.
The Skatalites were the preeminent collective in popularizing ska, an early 60s creation melding R&B, jazz, calypso and Cuban musical influences, and characterized by its distinctive emphasis on the after beat, as opposed to the down beat of R&B.
Together for just 18 months between 1963-1965 The Skatalites recorded many timeless instrumentals including "Eastern Standard Time" and "Guns of Navarone" for a variety of producers, most notably Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd.
Backing virtually every singer of note during that era, including teen sensations The Wailers on their 1964 hit "Simmer Down," The Skatalites' pioneering efforts at the dawn of the island's recording industry laid the groundwork for the development of rocksteady and reggae later in the decade and the subsequent international embrace of Jamaica's various indigenous genres.
Considered the grandfather of Jamaican bass players Brevett was taught by his father David who built and played his own basses. A recipient of several awards throughout his long, highly influential career, Brevett was bestowed Jamaica's fifth highest honor, the Order of Distinction, in October 2001 and the Silver Musgrave Medal for his contribution to music in October 2010.
According to a recent report in the Jamaica Observer newspaper, close family friend Maxine Stowe (former A&R at Columbia Records and Clement Dodd's niece) said Brevett's health had rapidly deteriorated following the fatal shooting of his son Okeene Brevett on February 26, near the family's home in Seaview Gardens area of St. Andrew. Okeene was returning home after accepting an award on his father's behalf from JaRIA (Jamaica Recording Industry Association) for his contributions to the development of Jamaica's music industry.