Remembering Ibo Cooper, the prodigy who played in arguably reggae’s most eclectic band, died in Kingston on October 12.

Ibo Cooper, the prodigy who played in arguably reggae’s most eclectic band, died in Kingston on October 12. A co-founder of Third World, he was given a rousing sendoff in Jamaica’s capital two weeks later.

The keyboardist, who was 71, died from cancer two weeks after the death of Joy, his wife of 50 years. Their son Arif, a popular sound system selector and producer, died in March at age 50.

On October 25, an all-star cast of artistes and musicians gathered at Jamaica College, Cooper’s alma mater, and paid homage to him in a concert attended by family and prominent Jamaicans.

Big Youth, Nadine Sutherland, Tony Rebel, The Abyssinians and Carlene Davis were some of the acts who performed. Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith reunited with Roger and Ian Lewis and Bernard “Touter” Harvey of Inner Circle, and Dean Fraser, to perform Jacob Miller’s All Night Till Daylight and Disciplined Child.

They were followed shortly after by Third World, which Cooper started in 1973 with guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore, who was on the bandstand paying tribute to his colleague who left the band in 1997.

Third World

Drummer Willie Stewart, another member of the classic Third World lineup of the 1970s and 1980s, flew in from South Florida for the show and funeral service.

Like Cooper and Coore, Stewart was a member of Inner Circle before joining Third World. He said Cooper deserves every accolade bestowed on him.

“When a musician of royalty, loyalty, respect, human kindness, dignity and community-mindedness with a cause to bring world unity, cultural awareness and music business, passes on their experience of music, life lessons and philosophy of truth to our youth without reservations, then I say that person who is Michael Kingsley Cooper should be celebrated worldwide as an example to present and past musicians. Besides, Ibo is my brother, brethren and friend, so I was honoured that I could be part of the celebration of his life,” said Stewart.

He disclosed that he last spoke to the ailing Cooper in July. Stewart said the Afrocentric musician was the creative force behind a band that scored with a number of well-received songs including Now That we Found Love, Try Jah Love, Always Around and Reggae Ambassador.

“Ibo was a man always open to new ideas, he always would hear and listen to your ideas whether it was music, a song, business-related or everyday ideas. Whatever, he would listen and then give you his opinion and encourage you,” related Stewart, who also left Third World in 1997. “He was a very careful listener which made him a great leader. His music ability was exceptional and knowledge was expansive on any subject.”

The funeral service took place at the University Chapel, at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Members of the congregation, which included many of Cooper’s schoolmates, were dressed in white.

Kingsley Michael “Ibo” Cooper is survived by three of his four children and three grandchildren.

By Howard Campbell for