'Mikey Boo' passes
Michael “Mikey Boo” Richards(Photo: Steve James)

Drummer Michael “Mikey Boo” Richards, a top session and touring musician, died in Kingston on November 28 at age 74. Dr Judith Richards, his niece, confirmed his death in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

She said her uncle had suffered from dementia for several years. Richards said she spoke to him on Sunday from her home in New York, just before he died.

“Mikey was a father figure to me. I owe a lot to Mikey for where I am today,” she said.

Richards played in some of reggae's great bands, including The In Crowd, Now Generation, 809, The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff's Oneness. His patterns can be heard on hit songs like Wichita Lineman, Silhouettes (Dennis Brown), Pitta Patta, Life is Just For Living (Ernie Smith), Wake up And Live (Bob Marley), Dubbing is A Must, A Song (Pablo Moses), One Step Ahead, Got to Get Away (Beres Hammond), Honey (Bob Andy), Y Mas Gan (The Abyssinians) and Lorna Bennett's Breakfast in Bed.

Keyboardist Robbie Lyn, who knew Richards for over 50 years, described him as “the complete drummer”.

“We were members of a band that could play everything: Top 40, reggae, soca. Mikey was a great all-round drummer,” Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.

Richards first came to prominence with The In Crowd during the early 1970s alongside guitarist (and former drummer) Fil Callender, keyboardist Robbie Lyn and singer Sonny Wong. When that band split after four years, Richards and Lyn became members of Now Generation which also included keyboardist Earl “Wya” Lindo, the Chung brothers, Mikey and Geoffrey, and bassist Val Douglas.

The Now Generation were a house band for most of the 1970s at Federal Records, where they backed acts like Smith and Pluto Shervington. They also played for artistes produced by Geoffrey Chung, including Pablo Moses.

Richards was the original drummer for 809, before leaving to join The Wailers when that band's drummer Carlton Barrett was murdered in 1987. After a stint there, he joined Cliff's band.

Michael “Mikey Boo” Richards is survived by four nieces and one nephew.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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