Recognised worldwide as the originators of Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae, and the only band to still play this type of music in its true form, THE SKATALITES were born in the spring of 1964. They recorded their first LP, SKA AUTHENTIC, at Studio One in Kingston and toured Jamaica as the creators of Ska. Their producers were Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, Prince Buster, Vincent "King" Edwards, Justin "Phillip" Yap, Leslie Kong, Lindon Pottinger, Sonia Pottinger and Vincent "Randy" Chin. Held in high esteem by their peers The Skatalites led sessions with top artists and worked with young talents such as Delroy Wilson, Desmond Dekker, The Wailers & Lee Perry.
They played their first show on 27 June 1964 at the Hi-Hat club, on Water Lane in Rae Town, which was owned and operated by Orville "Billy" Farnum. Coxsone Dodd helped initially: "At the formation of the band, I supplied the PA system, microphones and whatever it is, also the guitar amplifiers. I helped with transportation and I supplied storage for equipment and instruments. I was a part of promoting the first gigs and other gigs to get it off the ground, because I figured, more or less, if I am recording The Skatalites, it’s good to get them popular out in the streets, yunno”.
In the fall of 1964, Don Drummond's composition "Man in the Street" entered the Top 10 in the UK. Trombonist Drummond had at least 200 tunes to his name by 1965. In August 1965 the original incarnation of The Skatalites played their last show. They broke up into two supergroups, Rolando Alphonso and the Soul Vendors and Tommy McCook and the Supersonics.
Early reunions: 1974-88
The Skatalites first reunion happened in the studio, during 1974 sessions for bass player Lloyd Brevett's solo album. After laying down hand percussion tracks at Lee Perry's studio, Brevett was joined by McCook, Alphonso, Sterling, Knibb and Mittoo. Ernest Ranglin played guitar, with Oswald Brooks on trumpet The album was eventually released as African Roots, a collection of mostly Brevett compositions, and has been variously released both as a Lloyd Brevett and as a Skatalites album, with most editions crediting "Lloyd Brevett and The Skatalites".
Between 1985 and 1988, the core members of the Skatalites emigrated and united in the northeast of the United States. They played their first US concert at The Village Gate and began to play spotted dates in Northeast US.
1989 – present
Reforming again in 1989 the band quickly regained their rightfull position as leaders of the Ska and Reggae movement causing them to be featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani / No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, and Ken Boothe.
In May 2014, on the 50th anniversary of their formation, The Skatalites Band received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prime Minister of Jamaica.
On August 26, 2016 the band released the Album Platinum Ska and toured through the USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, France Italy and the UK.
Many years and many incarnations later the name THE SKATALITES lives on in the history of Reggae and Ska music. Tonight, with a support line up of performers who are friends and fans of this legendary band, The Ferry are proud to present THE SKATALITES for only the second time in the history of the venue!
• Doreen Shaffer – vocals (founding member)
• Lester Sterling – alto saxophone (founding member)
• Azemobo "Zem" Audu – tenor saxophone
• Andrae Murchison – trombone
• Travis Antoine – trumpet
• Val Douglas – bass guitar
• Natty Frenchy – guitar
• Ken Stewart – keyboards
• Trevor "Sparrow" Thompson – drums