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In Memoriam: Tyrone Downie

Arguably the most distinctive keyboardist of the golden age of roots reggae, Tyrone Downie died this past November 5 in the back of an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 66.

A key member of Bob Marley & the Wailers, Downie joined the band in 1976 and first appeared on the Rastaman Vibration album that year. One of the great masters of texture in roots reggae, Downie’s dexterous blend of organ, electric piano and clavinova became a defining feature of the Wailers’ music, through the end of Marley’s career.

Downie’s most iconic moment was the famous descending organ cascade in Roots Rock Reggae. After Marley’s death, Downie played live and in the studio with several other iconic reggae acts, including Burning Spear, Black Uhuru and Steel Pulse. In later years he toured and recorded with Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour.


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