Lloyd Knibb Father of Reggae Drumming by Carlos Malcolm
Long before the word Ska was coined Lloyd Knibb ( affectionately known as ‘ Knibbsey’ was an excellent Latin-styled drummer pepping up the Eric Deans Orchestra with Latin music’™drum ‘licks’ he learned while touring with Eric Deans. I met Lloyd at the Bournemouth Club in the 50s. I congratulated him on how he converted his snare drum to sound like a Latin percussion instrument by disengaging the snares from the underside of the drum to produce a Timbale sound. The Eric Deans Orchestra disbanded in the late 1950s leaving the musicians to look for work all over.
Most of them ended up working for Clement Dodd as independent contractors. Tommy McCook, who named the ‘Skatalites’ was still employed in the Bahamas. Lloyd Knibb, with his dominating, ‘no foolishness on the bandstand’ attitude towards music became (in my mind) the Father of Reggae Drumming by bringing discipline to the Dodd recording sessions. From his drums he would set tempos, indicate solos, starts and stops. Most of all, he introduced to Reggae the Cuban ‘Habanico’ roll performed on the Timbale drum. The roll, starting in the middle of the snare drum (with snares disengaged) ends with a sharp sounding ‘r-r-rang!’ impact between the head of the drumstick striking the middle of the drum and the arm of the drumstick striking the rim of the drum, just like the sound produced by a Latin timbale drum. Dodd loved the discipline because it saved him studio time and eliminated the ‘1-2-3-4? count-off.’
Excerpt from ‘Carlos Malcolm “A Life in Jamaican Music” 2006
“With tempo-setting clicks from his sticks ending with a Cuban ‘Habanico’ timbale drum roll, Lloyd Kniibb,’Father of Reggae Drumming’ has influenced every drummer who has played or attempted to play Jamaican Ska thru Dance Hall music. May he rest in peace. His musical discipline, ‘no foolishness’ energy on the bandstand and drumming precision will leave an international legacy which for some time will continue to inspire drummers who play Jamaican music, wherever they may be.”
Here is a clip of Lloyd playing with the Skatalites in Los Angeles in 2007…..
.. and another of them playing “Latin Go Ska” ….
… yet another clip of the master at work.