Friday, 13 October 2023 16:50

Third World's Ibo Cooper has died

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Jamaica lost one of its finest musicians on Thursday with the passing of Michael "Ibo" Cooper, a founding member of Third World, the band formed in the 1970s that played a major role in spreading reggae globally.

Cooper, who was 71, was ailing for some time. His death came shortly after the passing of his wife Joy within the last month, and his son, Arif, in March this year.

A brilliant keyboard player, songwriter and vocalist, Cooper was a member of Inner Circle band before co-founding Third World with guitarist Steven "Cat" Coore in 1973.

In the late 1990s Cooper left Third World and started teaching at the School of Music at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

"He was there for 23 years and encouraged young people to form bands," veteran broadcaster, actor, and media practitioner Fae Ellington said Thursday night. "I did a few functions where he would come with young people and give them exposure at playing at events."

Ellington, who said that Cooper performed at this year's Calabash International Literary Festival in St Elizabeth, recalled the 'Explanitations' concert series featuring Third World at Little Theatre in St Andrew produced by Freddie Hickling.

"He was straddling the keyboard and the synthesizer, playing both... it was an amazing thing, those Third World performances," Ellington said.

"He was one of those outstanding Jamaicans who really contributed significantly to our culture, to our music, but he also had a mind where, if you sat with him he was going to discuss issues, not necessarily music," she said, pointing out that Cooper was to study Physics and Mathematics at The University of the West Indies but music pulled him.

"I remember myself and Maurice McFarlane, who was an engineer at JBC, driving to Ocho Rios one night just to hear Third World play; this was in the 70s, because Third World was the band at the time," said Ellington.

"I thank him for his contribution to our music in particular, but in the last 10 or so years the way he tried to guide and mould young musicians through the Edna Manley College, in particular the School of Music. I can see him now, he would just sit at the keyboard and he would play, he had that skill to play anything any time."