R.I.P: Lloyd Brevett, “True Father of Jamaican Bass”

Words by Jesse Serwer—

Bassist Lloyd Brevett, who combined with drummer Lloyd Knibb to form the rhythm section for ska pioneers the Skatalites, died on Thursday. Brevett suffered a stroke in March, just weeks after his son, Okeane Brevett, was fatally shot hours after accepting an award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association on his father’s behalf. His death, almost exactly a year after that of Knibb, leaves Lester Sterling as the last surviving original member of, arguably, Jamaica’s most influential band.

“It is his work on bass that has taken that instrument to prominence not only in Jamaican music, but also various other music forms including hip hop and dance music,” Jamaica Music Museum head Herbie Miller told the Jamaica Observer. “Brevett popularised how we hear and understand that instrument in music today. He is the true father of the Jamaican bass.”

Brevett, who helped develop ska’s distinctive rhythm pattern by introducing a bouncing bass accompaniment learned from his father, jazz bassist Count Brevett, had been part of the reformed Skatalites that toured through the ’80s and ’90s (in addition to recording a pair of Grammy-nominated albums, Hi-Bop Ska! and Greetings From Skamania) but left the band several years ago. Check out Lloyd’s upright bass technique up close in this footage from a 1980s-era concert in Boston.