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Lester Sterling


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Lester Sterling (January 31, 1936) aka Lester “Ska” Sterling or Mr. Versatile) is a Jamaican trumpet and saxophone player (alto saxophone). He started his career as a trumpet player for Val Bennett’s band in 1957 and was also a member of Byron Lee’s Dragonaries (on trumpet).

A founding member of The Skatalites. He is commonly overshadowed by well-known band members such as Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo or Don Drummond. Sterling is the only original member who is still a part of the band.

Raised in the Kingston Jamaica neighborhood of Allman Town, Lester started at St. Ann’s school before he entered the Alpha Boys School, where he was a student for 10 years. All four of the Sterling brothers went to Alpha and all have enjoyed careers as professional musicians. Gladston on sax in Nassau Bahamas and Roy on trumpet and Keith on keyboard in Jamaica. Keith has played with Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and currently is with The Wailers band.

Lester started on trumpet in 1945, inspired by his friend Frederick Brown who was in the Alpha Band. The Bandmaster at the time was Reuben Delgado and, “Delgado was in charge of all of we”, Lester recalls. No easy task, melding a band out of a school peopled with chronic truants and youth placed there for a variety of indiscipline. But under Delgado’s instruction, four future Skatalites blossomed.


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  • skacutter2

    If you love Ska & Jamaican Music, check out the trailer for, The Legends of Ska, featuring The Skatalites with Lester Sterling, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan and much more. Be a part of bringing this film to the world. Go to

    17 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Suedehead1319

    Great musician, humble and distinct human being

    14 Feb 2009 Reply
  • bullfrog66

    saw him in mexico 2006, great musician and person MAXIMUM RESPECT

    12 Sep 2008 Reply

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