Callender Beats - Drummer gets recognition

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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HIS name may not be as regognised as many musicians from the 1960s and 1970s, but Filberto 'Fil' Callender is highly regarded among his peers.

Panama-born Callender played on some of the biggest hit songs in reggae history. These include Satta Masa Gana by The Abyssinians, on which he played drums and The Slickers' Johnny Too Bad, which hears him on guitar.

Now 67 years old, Callender recorded those songs while he was a session musician at Studio One
and a member of the In Crowd band.

Last week, the Govern-ment announced he has been awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) for his contribution to Jamaican music.

On Monday, Callender described his national recognition as "a surprise, but a pleasant surprise".

He added: "A lot of musicians who contributed to the development of reggae music have been overlooked. I was just part of the system that contributed."

Callender moved to Jamaica with his family in the 1950s, growing up in the Molynes Road area of Kingston. He remembers his first musical experience hanging around rehearsals at keyboardist Aubrey Adams' home in
Trench Town.

Later, he met Eric Frater, then a guitarist with The Virtues show band, who got him a regular gig as their drummer. It was Frater who took him to Studio One where he (Frater) was a member of the house band.

Callender spent three years at Studio One, making his recording debut on Ken Boothe's Come Tomorrow. He would play on big hits such as Equal Rights, On Top, and Party Time by The Heptones, and Larry and Alvin's Nanny Goat.

By the 1970s, Callender had joined the In Crowd as its guitarist. At the time, the band also included his younger brother Tony Lewis on bass, Robbie Lyn (keyboards), Mikey 'Boo' Richards (drums) and vocalist Sonny Wong.

He recorded two albums with the In Crowd — His Majesty's Coming and Man From New Guinea.

Since 1980, Callender has been a committed Christian, playing mainly in church bands. He also finds time to jam with his colleagues in the In Crowd.

Fil Callender will receive his OD on October 21 during the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House.

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