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Lennie Hibbert

b. Leonard Aloysius Hibbert, 12 November 1928, Mavis Bank, Jamaica, West Indies, d. 1984, Jamaica, West Indies. Hibbert’s interest in music started when he was two years old. He later joined the Salvation Army where he was able to concentrate on his percussion skills by playing on the army bands’ drums. At the age of eight he went to the celebrated Alpha Boys School where he joined their band as a drummer. After leaving the school in 1944 he played in several small orchestras and finally joined a Jamaican Military Band in 1946. It was while in the services that he mastered playing the vibraphone. In the late 50s he returned to the Alpha Boys School where he was recruited as a bandmaster. During his time as a tutor he taught a number of fledgling musicians that included Floyd Lloyd and Vin Gordon. The school has since been recognised as a major influence in the Jamaican recording industry and Sister Mary Ignatious Davies, who worked alongside Hibbert, is acknowledged as an inspiration to Jamaican musicians.

In the early 70s Hibbert recorded in sessions at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One that led to the release of two instrumental albums. He covered various tunes in his own inimitable way including, ‘Moonlight Becomes You’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Of You’ and a staggering version of the Keith And Tex’s ‘Tonight’, suitably labelled ‘Real Hot’. He also worked with Harry Mudie who employed him to embellish the Dennis Walks’ calypso-tinged ‘Margaret’, re-titled ‘Margaret’s Dream’. It was around this time that Hibbert inspired his nephew Junior Delgado to pursue a career in the music industry. In 1976 Hibbert was awarded the Order Of Distinction for his contribution to music on the island and for his work at the Alpha Boys School alongside Sister Davies. After Hibbert’s death in 1984, ska legend and alumni Floyd Lloyd overdubbed a selection of his unreleased material (Village Soul) that was licensed courtesy of the percussionist’s son Joe. Lennie Hibbert’s tireless effort toward educating aspiring musicians overshadowed much of his own work, although his percussion skills in the reggae industry are widely acknowledged.
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