Remembering Michael Ibo Cooper, Co-Founder Of Third World

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Ibo Cooper, the Afrocentric musician who co-founded Third World in 1973, died here October 12 at age 71.

The keyboardist passed away two weeks after Joy, his wife of over 50 years, died. Their son Arif died in March.

Co-Founder of Third World Band Michael "Ibo" Cooper Dies at age 71
Michael “Ibo” Cooper

In a statement, his three surviving children hailed their father’s parental guidance and musical skills.

“Ibo’s contribution to music and culture was immeasurable. His children remember him as a remarkable human being with a magnanimous spirit and light,” said the family.

Tribute from PM, Hon. Andrew Holness

Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness also hailed Cooper,  who started his career in the late 1960s with the Inner Circle band.

“I am deeply saddened at the news that one of Jamaica’s most talented and prolific musicians and founder of one of Jamaica’s finest reggae bands, Michael “Ibo” Cooper, has passed. Most Jamaicans were exposed to his prowess on the keyboards and his energetic performances with the Grammy-nominated band Third World. He also played for the group Inner Circle. Ibo was a true cultural ambassador, taking reggae music and brand Jamaica to the farthest corners of the world,” said Holness in a statement.

Acknowledgement from Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, also lauded Cooper, saying: “I am saddened to learn of the passing of one of Jamaica’s iconic musicians,  Michael “Ibo” Cooper, former member of the Inner Circle Band and founding member of the Third World Band. I wish to express my condolences to his children Arianne, Akiri and Abean and to the local and international musical fraternity. Ibo was a strong and constant voice for the music industry and an exemplary music teacher. Generations of Jamaican musicians have been shaped by him, and our industry is better for having had him. I also benefitted from his advice as a member of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB). May his soul rest in perpetual peace.”

Cooper is the third member of Third World’s classic lineup to die. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Bunny Rugs died in 2014, followed four years later by percussionist Irvin “Carrot” Jarrett.

Guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore, another former member of Inner Circle, founded Third World with Cooper 50 years ago. Bassist Richie Daley and drummer Willie Stewart were also part of the lineup that recorded songs such as Now That we Found Love, Reggae Ambassador,  Try Jah Love and 96 Degrees in The Shade.

Cooper and Stewart left the band in 1997. Cooper became a senior lecturer at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.

He was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor, in 2005.


South Florida Caribbean News

The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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