Lester Sterling

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Lester Sterling
Lester Sterling playing alto sax with The Skatalites at Njoki Summer Festival, Ajdovščina, Slovenia, 06/23/07.
Background information
Born (1936-01-31) 31 January 1936 (age 79)
Origin Jamaica
Genres Ska, reggae
Instruments Saxophone, trumpet
Years active 1950s–present
Associated acts The Skatalites

Lester Sterling OD (born 31 January 1936),[1] also known as Lester "Ska" Sterling or Mr. Versatile, is a Jamaican trumpet and saxophone player.


Like many Jamaican musicians of his generation, Sterling attended the Alpha Boys School.[2] Originally a trumpeter, he is predominantly known as a player of alto saxophone. He was a member of the Jamaica Military Band in the 1950s and played trumpet in Val Bennett's band in 1957.[1] In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Sterling played regularly as a studio musician, along with most of the future Skatalites members, in bands such as Clue J & His Blues Blasters.[3]

Sterling is a founding member of The Skatalites (playing alto saxophone), one of only two (the other is Doreen Shaffer) still alive.[2] After The Skatalites originally disbanded in 1965, Sterling played with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires and recorded several solo singles for the London-based producer "Sir" Clancy Collins.[2] His debut solo album, Bangarang, was released on Pama Records in 1969. Sterling rejoined the Skatalites when they reformed in 1975.[2] The band have continued on and off with a varying line-up since, and Sterling is the only founding member still with the band.

Sterling was awarded the Order of Distinction in 1998 in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music.[1]

Sterling's brother is keyboard player Keith Sterling.



  • Bangarang (1969), Pama
as a featured artist


  1. ^ a b c "Musicians Bio", Alpha Old Boys Association, retrieved 19 October 2012
  2. ^ a b c d Thompson, Dave (2002) Reggae & Caribbean Music, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-655-6, p. 262
  3. ^ Lieb, Kristin (1994) "Hunt for 'Next Big Thing' Unearths Ska Underground", Billboard, 15 January 1994, retrieved 19 October 2012