Rico Rodriguez (musician)

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Rico Rodriguez
Ricogf (cropped).JPG
Rodriguez at GuilFest 2012
Background information
Birth name Emmanuel Rodriguez
Also known as Reco, El Reco[1]
Born (1934-10-17)17 October 1934
Havana, Cuba
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Died 4 September 2015(2015-09-04) (aged 80)
London, England
Genres Ska, reggae, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Trombone
Years active 1958–2015
Associated acts The Specials
Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

Emmanuel "Rico" Rodriguez MBE (17 October 1934[2] – 4 September 2015), also known as simply Rico, Reco or El Reco, was a Cuban-born Jamaican ska and reggae trombonist. He recorded with many producers, including Karl Pitterson, Prince Buster, and Lloyd "Matador" Daley. He was known as one of the first and most distinguished ska artists, and from the early 1960s performed and recorded in Britain, with the Specials, Jools Holland, Paul Young, and others.


Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba, and at an early age moved with his family to Jamaica.[3] He grew up there in Kingston, and was taught to play the trombone by his slightly older schoolmate Don Drummond at the Alpha Boys School.[2] In the 1950s, Rodriguez became a Rastafarian and was closely associated musically to the rasta drummer Count Ossie.[3] In 1961 Rodriguez moved to the UK and started to play in reggae bands.[4] In 1976 he recorded the album Man from Wareika under a contract with Island Records.[2] In the late 1970s, with the arrival of the 2 Tone genre, he played with ska revival bands such as the Specials including their single "A Message to You, Rudy".[2]

Rodriguez formed the group Rico and the Rudies and recorded the albums Blow Your Horn and Brixton Cat.[2] In 1995 Island Records released the album Roots to the Bone, an updated version of Rodriguez's earlier work Man from Wareika. From 1996, among other engagements, he played with Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and also performed at various ska festivals throughout Europe with his own band. He retired from performing with Jools Holland in 2012.

He was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace on 12 July 2007, for services to music.[5] In October 2012 he was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music.[4]


On 4 September 2015, following a short illness in a London hospital, Rodriguez died aged 80.[6][7][8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harp, Justin. "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies, aged, 80 - Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Allmusic.com biography
  3. ^ a b Campbell, Howard (2012) "Rico Rodriguez: Man From Wareika", Jamaica Observer, 22 June 2012; retrieved 24 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b Campbell, Howard (2012) "Trombonist Rico Rodriguez gets his due", Jamaica Observer, 11 October 2012; retrieved 11 October 2012.
  5. ^ The Queens list for 2007, p. 83.
  6. ^ Kevin Rawlinson (4 September 2015). "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies aged 80". The Guardian. London. 
  7. ^ "Rico Rodriguez: The Specials' trombonist dies aged 80". BBC News. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Luke Morgan Britton (5 September 2015). "The Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez dies aged 80". NME. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 

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