Mandrill (band)

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OriginBrooklyn, New York City, United States
GenresFunk,[1] Soul,[1] Latin funk[2]
Years active1968–1982
LabelsPolydor, United Artist Records, Arista Records, Montage Records
Past membersCarlos Wilson
Lou Wilson
Ric Wilson
Claude "Coffee" Cave II
Bundie Cenas
Omar Mesa
Charles Padro
Fudgie Kae Solomon
Neftali Santiago
Douglas Rodriguez
Arlan Aschierbaum
Gemi Taylor
Stacey Lamont Sydnor
Derrek Murdoch
Brian Allsop

Mandrill was an American funk band from Brooklyn, New York, formed in 1968 by brothers Carlos, Lou, and Ric Wilson. AllMusic called them "One of funk's most progressive outfits... [with an] expansive, eclectic vision."[1]


The Wilson brothers were born in Panama and grew up in the Bedford–Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. With Carlos on trombone and vocals, Lou on trumpet and vocals, and Ric on saxophone and vocals, they formed the band to combine funk, soul, jazz, and Latin music.[3] The band was named after the mandrill species of primate, which was known for its colorful features and family-oriented social structure. The other original members included keyboardist Claude "Coffee" Cave, guitarist Omar Mesa, bassist Bundie Cenas, and drummer Charlie Padro.[1]

They signed with Polydor Records[1] and released their self-titled debut album in 1970. The album and its self-titled single "Mandrill" both reached the Billboard charts.[4][5] Fudgie Kae Solomon replaced Cenas for their second album Mandrill Is, which also reached the Billboard soul and pop charts.[4]

Neftali Santiago then became Mandrill's new drummer.[1] Their third album Composite Truth was released in 1972 and became their most successful release, with the single "Fencewalk" reaching number 19 on the Billboard singles chart.[6] During this period, Mandrill gained critical notice as one of the most progressive and experimental funk bands of the 1970s, while their use of Latin elements drew comparisons to Santana and War.[6] Funk historian Rickey Vincent noted Mandrill's multi-ethnic membership and "bizarre blend of African-based rhythms, scorching rock riffs, country fonk, bop jazz, and one-chord guitar rock operas."[7]

Guitarist Dougie Rodriguez, a former Santana sideman, joined in time for the second Mandrill album to be released in 1973, Just Outside of Town,[1] which reached the top ten on the Billboard Soul Albums chart.[4] The same lineup released the double album Mandrilland in 1974, scoring another entry on the Billboard Soul Albums chart.[4]. In 1975, all members of the group other than the Wilson brothers and Cave departed, and Mandrill switched to United Artists. The albums Solid and Beast from the East were recorded with session musicians. The band then switched to Arista Records and added a fourth Wilson brother, Wilfredo, on bass. Former drummer Neftali Santiago returned and guitarist Joaquin Jessup joined.[1] This lineup released the album We Are One in 1977 and scored their biggest hits in several years with the singles "Funky Monkey" and "Can You Get It."[8] The band released three more albums for Arista, with diminishing success, and broke up in 1982.

Mandrill songs have been sampled by many hip-hop acts such as Johnny D, Public Enemy, Beck, DJ Shadow, Shawty Lo, Big L, Kanye West, Jin, Eminem, and 9th Wonder.[citation needed] The Wilson brothers and Cave recorded sporadically under the name Mandrill over the following decades, releasing several dance-oriented singles. Lou Wilson died in 2013 at age 71.[1]


Studio albums[edit]


  • The Best of Mandrill (1975)
  • Rebirth (1992)
  • Fencewalk: The Anthology (1997)
  • The Ultimate Collection (2000)
  • Sunshine (2005)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • Peace and Love (EP, 2001)
  • "Driving While Black and Brown" (single, 2001)
  • "Pre-nuclear War Blues" (single, 2004)
  • "Sunshine" (soundtrack contribution, 2004)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Huey, Steve. "Mandrill: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 4, 2019 – via
  3. ^ McCarthy, Jim (2004). Voices of Latin Rock: People and Events that Created this Sound. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 112. ISBN 0 634 08061-X.
  4. ^ a b c d "Mandrill US albums chart history". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  5. ^ "Mandrill US singles chart history". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  6. ^ a b Stavans, Ilan (2014). Latin Music: Musicians, Genres, and Themes. Greenwood. p. 678. ISBN 978-0-313-34395-7.
  7. ^ Vincent, Ricky (1996). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One. St. Martin's Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-312-13499-1.
  8. ^ Lovén, Lars. "We Are One: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2019.

External links[edit]