TRIBUTES have been paid upon the passing of legendary trombonist Rico Rodriguez who played with Coventry’s The Specials in the late 1970s and 1980s.
He died aged 80 but his soulful music will live on – including his timless solos such as on The Specials’ 1979 hit cover version of ‘A Message To You Rudy’ and contribution to number one hit ‘Ghost Town’.
He was a solo artist in his own right during a long career, which also saw him work with 1960s Jamaican Ska legends through to performances on BBC’s Jools Holland show, including a stunning rendition of ‘Broken Stones’ with Paul Weller.
The Specials announced the 80-year-old’s death in a tweet on Friday, which read: “Our dear friend Rico passed away today. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. His legacy will go on forever. RIP dear Rico”.
Rico was born to Cuban parentage but grew up in Jamaica, where he learned trombone from a young age.
The Specials’ Neville Staple told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s Shane O’Connor he and his wife Christine had been with Rico in hospital in London in his final hours.
Neville said of Rico’s contribution to The Specials: “He didn’t busk it, he felt it.”
Christine described him as a “peaceful, friendly, amazing man.”
They revealed a event “to give him the send off he deserves” would be arranged.
They added there had in recent years been some discussion among the reformed Specials about how Rico could receive more for his work than the session musician wages he was paid during his time with them in their heyday.
Rico moved to England in the 1960s.
He had been a solo musician recording with his band Rico and the Rudies and supported Bob Marley during a 1978 tour.
He worked with Ian Dury, Prince Buster, Jools Holland in his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Toots and the Maytals, Georgie Fame and many more acts.
In 1979, The Specials’ Jerry Dammers asked Rico to play on the remake of ‘Rudy a Message to You’, after Rico had played on the original Dandy Livingstone version.
He also featured on the two legendary Specials albums, The Specials (1979) and More Specials (1980), and the Selecter’s debut LP, Too Much Pressure (1980).
He was made an MBE in 2007 for services to music.