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Charles Douglas (1928-2018)

  • Charles “Jiggs” Douglas (Photograph supplied)

One of the island’s top drummers has died. Charles “Jiggs” Douglas was 89.

Dale Butler, a former Progressive Labour Party MP and music historian, said Mr Douglas’s death was “a great loss to Bermuda’s music heritage”.

He added: “He was an absolutely outstanding conga player who established a reputation all over the island.”

Atlantic Publishing, owned by Mr Butler, gave an award to Mr Douglas last year to mark his contribution to the island music scene.

Mr Butler said “Jiggs” made a trio of conga-drumming greats with musicians Freeman “King” Trott and Gene Steede.

He added: “It’s a sad occasion. He was a very quiet, humble man who often freelanced, showing up to perform at venues like Hubie’s.”

The Angle Street bar, a popular spot for jazz, closed in 2010.

Mr Butler said he was lucky to have seen the performer in action at the legendary Queen Street bar the Jungle Room, where top local talent was showcased.

He added: “I saw him in action there with the Fiery Limbo Dancers group. I also saw great performances at the Southampton Princess. He was part of that hotel circuit.”

Mr Butler’s book, Music on the Rock, said Mr Douglas started performing at age 19.

He played with notable acts such as Graham Bean and the Tropicanos, as well as Hubert Smith.

Lance Furbert, a drummer during the heyday of Bermuda’s live music scene, said Mr Douglas was a mentor to younger musicians at the Jungle Room.

Mr Furbert added Mr Douglas was “an incredible drummer”.

He said: “I worked with him with Bryan Butterfield’s Fiery Limbo Dancers. He used to do a great solo with all kinds of action as he played, talking to the audience — he could crack people up.”

Mr Furbert added Mr Douglas’s music was “like thunder — it was incredible how much rhythm he had”.

He said: “It was a deep booming sound that took over everything.

“As a person, he could be really comical. What I liked about him was that he was always helpful.

“To those of us who were younger than him, he was really a teacher. In the early days, the Jungle Room drummers were teachers to the younger guys coming up.”

Mr Douglas’s death came about a week after Ernest “Tojo” Philpott, a guitarist and singer, died aged 81