Musician Fil Callender (Photo: United Reggae)

Veteran musician Filberto “Fil” Callender died at his home in Valentine Gardens, St Andrew, on Friday morning. He was 75.

Robbie Lyn, his close friend and colleague of more than five decades, confirmed his death. According to Lyn, Callender had health challenges in the last six months and was in and out of hospital.

“He was an easy-going person, a mild-mannered person; no excitement about him, but he was very talented and wrote some great songs. I’ve known him for 55 years. We worked with Studio One... Apart from Studio One, we were in a band in the 1970s together — In Crowd. He wrote songs like His Majesty is Coming and We Play Reggae, and some other hit songs. He played both drums and guitar,” Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.

“At Studio One, he was the regular drummer in the ‘60s, but when he was in the In Crowd band he played guitar. He became popular as a drummer as he played on so many hit songs,” Lyn continued.

Callender, who relocated to Jamaica from Panama with his family in the 1950s, played drums on Satta Massa Gana by The Abyssinians, considered by many to be reggae’s anthem.

Formed in 1970, The In Crowd comprised an ever-changing cast of musicians including Callender’s brother Toni Lewis (bass), Freddie Butler (keyboards), Barry Bailey (trombone), Cleveland “Clevie” Browne (drums), Wigmore Francis (guitar), Egbert Evans (saxophone, now deceased), Llewellyn Sang (saxophone), and Richard “Jamaka” Johnson (keyboards).

The In Crowd was signed to Island Records and broke up in the mid-1980s.

Baby My Love, written and performed by Callender, was sampled by American rapper Tyler the Creator in his Billboard-charting single Sweet/I Thought You Wanted to Dance. It features Brent Faiyaz and Fana Hues.

Fil Callender is survived by widow Olive and three daughters.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment bonitob@jamaicaobserver.com

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