Augustus Pablo / June 21, 1954 - May 18, 1999

Definitely the world's most famous melodica player, Augustus Pablo was a crucial figure on the reggae and dub scene for two-plus decades. Born Horace Swaby in Jamaica, he learned organ and keyboards while in school before becoming addicted to playing the melodica, a free-reed mouth keyboard mostly used as a tool to teach children music.

While still a teenager he cut his earliest sides in '71 for Aquarius Records, taking on the name "Augustus Pablo", which had previously been used by other musicians for records on the label. He began working with Randy's and other labels and "East Of The River Nile" became a minor hit before "Java" became a massive one in '72.

He continued recording for various producers such as Lee Perry, Keith Hudson, John Holt, Gussie Clark, Bunny Lee and Clive & Leonard Chin before starting his own companies. He hooked up with King Tubby and Hugh Mundell on some classic records in the mid-'70s, as well as work with Bob Marley, Fred Locks, Dillinger, Jacob Miller, Horace Andy and scores more.

The dancehall era found him working with artists like Junior Delgado, Prince Jammy, Dawn Penn, Yami Bolo and others, as well as touring all over the world. He died at 44 of a collapsed lung. If you know the sound of the melodica, it very well may be because of Pablo making it a popular instrument.

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