The Skatalites’ Lester Sterling Has Died

"We honour him as a person and we honour him for his excellence."

The Skatalites’ co-founder Lester Sterling has died.

A true pioneer in Jamaican music, Lester Sterling was drawn to the saxophone during his time at the legendary Alpha Boys School – essentially a breeding ground for the first wave of what would become known as ska music.

Together with the likes of Don Drummond, Lester Sterling helped form The Skatalites, playing on some truly iconic recordings in the evolution of Jamaican music. Indeed, for all its modern ubiquitous nature, it’s worth remembering that this, truly, is where Jamaica bass culture has its origins.

The Skatalites reformed in 1975 as a touring and recording entity, and enjoying substantial international acclaim. Remaining a terrific concert force right to the end, Lester Sterling continued to push himself, working with musicians less than half his age.

Indeed, looking through Bandcamp reveals a busy period for the saxophonist, working with UK labels such as Dub Vendor and Happy People –

News of Lester Sterling’s death was confirmed by his band mates in The Skatalites, who mourned the passing of a true original.

The last remaining of the original Skatalites hornsmen.

It’s a sad day for all of us with the passing of our legendary founder and original saxophonist Lester “Ska” Sterling.

Our heart goes out to the family, the fans and to all who were very close to him.

We celebrate his greatness and his contribution of being one of the pioneers of Ska and reggae music.

He has left a legacy for now and future generations to follow and we will continue to preserve it stage by stage.

We honour him as a person and we honour him for his excellence.

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