Reggae Great Dies: Cedric Brooks, Jamaican Sax Player, Was 70

Image: Reggae Great Dies: Cedric Brooks, Jamaican Sax Player, Was 70

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 09:02 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Jamaican saxophone player and influential roots-reggae musician Cedric Brooks died Friday of cardiac arrest at New York Hospital Queens. He was 70.

Brooks reportedly became ill several years ago and has been in a coma-like state without the ability to speak since February 2010, his sister Paulette Keise told The Associated Press.

He is survived by seven children and four sisters.

Brooks learned how to play the saxophone as a student at the Alpha Boys' School in Kingston, Jamaica, and began his music career in the late 1960s as a studio musician, playing in songs such as Burning Spear's "Door Peep." He also had hits with trumpet player David Madden including "Money Maker" and "Mystic Mood."

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He went on to collaborate with many artists, such as Count Ossie in the 1970s and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. He led his own band, Light of Saba, for a few years and was most recently touring with Jamaican ska band The Skatalites.

"Cedric came up during the dying days of the horn-driven band, so he had to find a new expression. The result was he came up with a sound that was singular," Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, told

Fans took to the Internet to express their sadness over the loss of the reggae great.

"A great artist. RIP," one person wrote on

"Love his music," someone else posted. "Gonna miss this truly great legend."

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"I was very fortunate to see The Skatalites live about 18 years ago with Mr. Brooks working his magic," another fan wrote. "I've seen a lot of amazing live performances in my life, and this one has always been one of my most cherished. The Skatalites transcended ska and inspired many generations of artists. There would have been no Bob Marley, no Madness, no No Doubt, etc., without the trailblazing sound of this amazing group."

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