The Skatalites

Pioneers of Jamaican ska, The Skatalites helped define the genre and left a lasting legacy in the UK and across the world. Originally a collection of 10 jazz and calypso musicians who were working for Coxsone Dodd at the legendary Studio One, the band were in at the birth of the genre when, alongside Prince Buster and Duke Reid, Dodd sought to create a new form of shuffling, choppy, dance music by mixing calypso with American R&B. Billing themselves as "the creators of ska", the band released debut album Ska Authentic (1964) and worked with the likes of The Wailers, Desmond Dekker and Lee 'Scratch' Perry. They split into two supergroups in 1965, Rolando Alphonso And The Soul Vendors and Tommy McCook And The Supersonics but made the British charts in 1967 with an adaptation of the theme tune to the WW2 film The Guns Of Navarone which became an anthem of the UK ska and skinhead scene. The 2 Tone movement led by The Specials and The Beat in the 1980s caused a resurgence in Jamaican music and encouraged The Skatalites to reform in 1983 and they've been going ever since. The Skatalites have toured the world and received Grammy nominations for the albums Hi-Bop Ska (1995) and Greetings from Skamania (1996). Over the years, many of the founding members left the group including tenor sax player Tommy McCook (died in 1998), trombonist Don Drummond (died in 1969), pianist Jackie Mittoo (died in 1990), and tenor saxist Roland Alphonso (died in 1998). The group’s longest-standing founding member, Lester Sterling, retired from the group in 2014 and died on May 16, 2023, at the age of 87.

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Stations Featuring The Skatalites

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