Wailer Seeco Patterson dead at 90

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

YET another chapter in the history of The Wailers closed on Monday with the death of Alvin “Seeco” Patterson, the legendary group’s ‘elder’ and percussionist.

Patterson died at the University Hospital of the West Indies at age 90. Tomaz Jardim, a Canadian academic and musician who knew him for over 25 years, confirmed his death through the Patterson family.

Also known as Francisco, Willie Pep or Pep, Patterson is the third person associated with The Wailers to die this year. In March, Bunny Wailer died at age 73; in October, George “Georgie” Robinson, who is immortalised by Bob Marley in the 1974 song, No Woman, No Cry, died at age 89.

Patterson was born Francisco Willie in Havana, Cuba, to a Jamaican father and Panamanian mother. He came to Jamaica as a child and lived in Trench Town for much of his adult life; it’s where he met The Wailers, a six-piece harmony group that included Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston (later Wailer).

Wailer Seeco Patterson dead at 90
Alvin “Seeco” Patterson and Bob Marley

Along with singer/songwriter Joe Higgs and Rasta elder Mortimo Planno, Patterson helped nurture the group’s sound and embrace of Rastafari. Patterson is credited as percussionist on all albums by The Wailers and Marley, distributed by Island Records throughout the 1970s up until Marley’s death at age 36 in 1981.

Wailers archivist Roger Steffens said Patterson’s impact on Marley is sadly understated.

“Seeco was the sole link left from the earliest days of Marley’s musical experiences, who was with Bob literally to the very end of his life. Seeco and Joe Higgs were both jazz buffs and helped form Bob’s broad tastes in the early 60s,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “Seeco took Bob to his audition for Coxson Dodd and made sure that the producer heard Simmer Down, The Wailers first hit. He became an essential Wailers band member after Bunny and Peter left to pursue solo careers.”

Tosh was killed at his Kingston home in September 1987 at age 42. Higgs was 59 when he died from cancer in 1999 while Planno died at age 76 in 2006.

Seeco Patterson kept a low profile after Marley’s death. He and Wailers bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett played on What if I Told You, the 1998 album by Canadian singer/musician Andru Branch.

Featured Image – Alvin “Seeco” Patterson

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