One of the most prolific session players of Jamaica's pre- ska era, trombonist Rico Rodriguez recorded both as a solo artist and as an honorary member of The Specials. He is a highly regarded musician both in England and his homeland of Jamaica.
Born Emmanuel Rodriguez on October 17, 1934, in Kingston, his musical pursuits began while attending Kingston's Alpha Boys School, an institution for wayward boys, where he studied trombone under the legendary Don Drummond. From 1954 to 1957 Rico continued his musical education at Stoney Hill Music School. During these years his musical influences were the two jazz trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding.
He went on to do recordings with various session groups, namely Clue J & The Blues Blasters, Count Ossie's Group, Smith All Stars, Drumbago And His Orchestra and for all the important producers - Clement Dodd, Duke Reid, Vincent Chin, Lloyd Daley - and as Rico's Group or All Stars for Prince Buster. Duke Reid and Vincent Chin engaged him for their very first recordings. Chin produced Rico's first sides under his own name: Rico Special and later Rico Farewell the second as his goodbye to Jamaica and shortly after released in the UK by the young Island Records label, where he relocated in ’61.
Landing in the UK, he recorded a number of sides for the Island label and gigged extensively on the jazz and R&B circuits, playing with Georgie Fame's Blue Flames and others. He also remained a top-notch session man, appearing on Sugar & Dandy's 1967 classic A Message to You Rudy, among others.