The Skatalites

Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady

Domicile: Jamaica

Origin: Jamaica


Current members:
Lester Sterling – alto saxophone (founding member)
Doreen Shaffer – vocals (founding member)
Azemobo “Zem” Audu – tenor saxophone
Andrae Murchison – trombone
Travis Antoine – trumpet
Val Douglas – bass guitar
Natty Frenchy – guitar
Ken Stewart – keyboards
Trevor “Sparrow” Thompson – drums

Former members
Tommy McCook – tenor saxophone, flute (founding member; died 1998)
Roland Alphonso – tenor saxophone (founding member; died 1998)
Don Drummond – trombone (founding member; died 1969)
Johnny “Dizzy” Moore – trumpet (founding member; died 2008)
Lloyd Brevett – upright bass (founding member; died 2012)
Lloyd Knibb – drums (founding member; died 2011)
Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes – guitar (founding member; died 2007)
Jackie Mittoo – piano (founding member; died 1990)
Mark Berney – trumpet
Nathan Breedlove – trumpet (1991–98)
Cedric “Im” Brooks – tenor saxophone (2000–02,2007-10; died 2013)
Karl “Cannonball” Bryan – saxophone (2003–09)
Calvin “Bubbles” Cameron – trombone (1983–84)
Welford “Will” Clark – trombone (1994–2003)
Vin “Don D. Junior” Gordon – trombone (2003–08)
Devon James – guitar (1987–2009)
Bill Smith – keyboards (1993–99)
Ken Stewart – keyboards (1988-90,1998-2009; also serves as the band’s manager)
Clark Gayton- Trombone (1989–94)
Cary Brown – keyboards (1990-95)
Louis Bonilla – trombone


The Skatalites began performing in Jamaica in May 1964. The group was so hot that their first rehearsal became a show. So many people had lined up outside the venue, they decided to just charge admission and let everybody in! They were the top musicians on the island at the time, having come together after playing in different bands and on various recording sessions. These records were made to be played at the many competing sound systems around the island. The band became legendary, backing all the developing artists of the day, such as Toots and The Maytals, Prince Buster and “The Wailing Wailers” featuring Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. These groups were all recording on the new beat called ska, which had an infectious rhythm that was catching on like wildfire. Eventually, the beat slowed down into rocksteady, and then reggae. This wildfire spread unstoppably around the world, developing into a huge musical tree with many stylistic branches, including lovers rock, dub, dancehall/ ragga, ska-punk,, and others. Hugely popular groups, like The Police, The Clash, The Specials, The English Beat, Sublime and No Doubt, all have their roots firmly planted in the music of The Skatalites.

Since reforming after an almost 20 year hiatus in 1983, and beginning regular touring as a unit in 1989, they have not stopped thrilling audiences in every corner of the globe. Even after 50 years, and various lineup changes as members leave one stage for another, the band continues to perform and record new music in the inimitable Jamaican style, like only they can. The road has been long and hard, and sadly, seen most of the original members pass on. Often asked “when will you stop?” and “how do you keep doing it after all these years?”, the answer is simple: never – It’s the love of the music and the way our fans respond that keep us going Forward!

Featuring original alto sax man Lester “Ska” Sterling and vocalist Doreen Shaffer, along with the current lineup of outstanding musicians they have chosen to accompany them, the band proudly presents live the music of Jamaican Ska.

Forever indebted to the inspiration and talent of: Roland Alphonso, Lloyd Brevett, Don Drummond, Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes, Lloyd Knibb, Tommy McCook, Donat “Jackie” Mittoo, John “Dizzy Johnny”Moore, and Lester Sterling, collectively known as The Skatalites.​


Studio albums:
Ska Authentic (Studio One, 1964)
Ska Boo-Da-Ba (Top Deck/Doctor Bird, 1966)
Ska Authentic Vol. 2 (Studio One, 1967)
Celebration Time (Studio One, 196?)
The Skatalite! (Treasure Isle, 1969)
The Legendary Skatalites/African Roots Lloyd Brevett with the Skatalites (Jam Sounds, 1975/United Artists, 1976)
Rolling Steady: The 1983 Music Mountain Sessions (Motion, recorded 1983, released 2007)
Return of the Big Guns (Island, 1984)
Ska Voovee (Shanachie, 1993)
Hi-Bop Ska (Shanachie, 1994)
Greetings from Skamania (Shanachie, 1996)
Ball of Fire (Island, 1998)
Bashaka with Ken Boothe (Marston Recording Corporation, 2000)
From Paris with Love (World Village, 2002/Wrasse, 2009)
On the Right Track (AIM, 2007)
Walk With Me (2012)

Live albums:
Live at Sunsplash (1984)
Stretching Out (ROIR, recorded 1983, released 1987)
Roots Party (FullFill, 2003)
Live at Lokerse Feesten 1997 & 2002 CD/DVD (Charly, 2006)
In Orbit Vol. 1 – Live from Argentina (Phantom Sound & Vision, 2006)
Skatalites in Orbit, Vol. 1 & 2 (Sony, 2010)

Collaboration albums:
1963 – The Long Hot Summer with Laurel Aitken (1963)
In the Mood for Ska with Lord Tanamo (Trojan 1967)
With Sly & Robbie & Taxi Gang (Vista, 1984)
Ska Titans: Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites (1999)
Ska Splash with Laurel Aitken and House of Rhythm (Moonska, 2002)
Long Hot Summer 1963 Volume 2 with Laurel Aitken (Grover, 2006)

Anthologies and reissues:
Scattered Lights (Alligator, 1984)
Hog in a Cocoa Skatalites & Friends (Culture Press/Orange Street, 1993)
Foundation Ska (Heartbeat/Pgd, 1997)
Skatalites and Friends at Randy’s (VP Records, 1998)
Ska Boo-Da-Ba: Top Sounds from Top Deck, Volume 3 (Westside UK, 1998)
Ska-Ta-Shot: Top Sounds from Top Deck, Volume 4 (Westside UK, 1998)
Ska-Tola: Top Sounds from Top Deck, Volume 5 (Westside UK, 1998)
Heroes of Reggae in Dub: The Skatalites Meet King Tubby (Guava Jelly, 1999)
Nucleus of Ska (Music Club, 2001)
The Legendary Skatalites in Dub (Motion, 2001)
Herb Dub, Collie Dub (Motion, 2002)
Lucky Seven (Proper Pairs, 2002)
Musical Communion (Culture Press, 2003)
Guns of Navarone – Best of Skatalites (Sanctuary Records, 2003)
Phoenix City: A History of the World’s Greatest Ska Band (Sanctuary Records, 2004)
In the Mood for Ska – The Moonska Years (Recall Records UK, 2004)
Independent Ska (Atom Music, 2006)
Anthology (Primo, 2007)
The Skatalites Play Ska (Kingston Sounds, 2007)
Kingston 11 (King Edwards, 2008)
Occupation Ska! Very Best of Skatalites (101 Distribution, 2009)
The Skatalites Box Set (Pinnacle/Attack Records, 2009)
Rollin’ On (King Edwards, 2010)