Through the words of Don Drummond’s childhood friends, classmates, musicians, medical staff, legal counsel, and teachers, comes a first-hand story of his “unusual mind.” They recall the early days in the recording studio, playing the instrumental backup for Bob Marley and others, and the nights in the Rasta camps where musicians burned the midnight oil and more. They roam the halls of the primitive and haunting mental hospitals where Drummond reached the lonely depths of his schizophrenia. They remember the gyrations of his lover, Margarita, the Rumba Queen, as she tantalized audiences at Club Havana. They tell what happened that tragic night when Drummond stabbed Margarita four times, reveal details of the trial (delayed more than a year as Drummond was ruled mentally unfit), and offer insights into the ways that Drummond likely died in the Bellevue Mental Hospital at age 35, the result of rudimentary mental health treatments, or perhaps something more sinister.
Heather Augustyn spent over two years researching and interviewing key people in Drummond’s life to form this comprehensive biography and traveled to Kingston twice to comb through archives and visit sites to construct the story. She interviewed former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in his office in Kingston and dozens of others. Augustyn is also author of Ska: An Oral History, McFarland 2010 and Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation, Scarecrow Press 2013. She is a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana and her work has appeared in national publications, including The Village Voice, In These Times, and The Humanist. She lives with her husband and two boys in Chesterton, Indiana. Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist is available at amazon.com, mcfarlandpub.com, and skabook.com.