Reggae Great Cedric Brooks Dies At Age 70

Reggae great Cedric Brooks has died in New York Hospital Queens after falling ill in his later years and losing the ability to speak.

Cedric Brooks is remembered as a popular saxophone player and one of the most influential artists in both reggae and the first wave of ska music from Jamaica. He started his music career in the 1960s as a studio musician, and had a number of hits including “Money Maker” and “Mystic Mood” with trumpet player David Madden.

The reggae great also played with the influential Jamaican ska band The Skatalites, who were billed as the creators of ska music. Originally formed in the 1950s, the Skatalites continued touring and making music for several decades with ever-shifting lineups. Cedric Brooks joined the band between 2000 and 2002, when he was close to 60 years old.

Brooks also played as a member of groups like The Vagabonds and the Granville Williams Band.

In the 1970s Brooks teamed with drummer Count Ossie, releasing popular tracks like “So Long Rastafari Calling,” “Black is Black,” and “Give Me Back My Language and Culture.” In 1974 Brooks started a new band, initially called the Divine Light but later known as The Light of Saba. The band made albums of jazz-influenced Rastafarian reggae, though Brooks would leave the group in 1977 to again pursue a solo career.The reggae great worked through the 1980s and 1990s as a studio musician, including work wiht a 20-piece ska and mento orchestra known as “Zimbobway’s King Kingston Orchestra.”

The reggae great died at age 70. Cedric Brooks is survived by seven children and four sisters.