A very special musician
Leo Rodrigues has been hitting on the skins, the cymbals, the cowbells and everything else that sustain or enhance percussion in a band. However, I think he will always remain a Jazz drummer at heart. That does not mean that he is not at home in most genres that generations of musicians have created over the centuries. The way he sits astride his drum set, he looks as if he was born to do just that: play the drums. In the process he has won the respect of his peers and the many, many young people he has encouraged along the way. As a result, he has won the respect of not only thousands of people who have heard him play or danced to the music his band has “drummed”up but also of his peers. They will also tell you “Leo is a great musician.”
From a very, very young age, Leo was a very dedicated musician, some would even say he was quite a nuisance because as a little boys, he spent hours practising on his mother’s kitchen utensils, driving everyone in the family to distraction. However, recognising his potential (and the fact that he driving everyone nuts) bought him a drum kit at the when Leo was 15.
Leo taught himself to play the drums and during this process he jammed with other kids who were also learning to play their instruments. Leo started playing on kitchen utensils at home and made a lot of noise causing chaos so much so his dad bought him a drum kit at 15. He taught himself to play and then had many jam sessions with various musicians who were also learning. He was introduced to jazz by the great maestros Olav Vaz and Auggie Alvares. Soon after, the guys in the highly successful Rhythm Kings dance band invited him to join their band. Later, he played with the All Stars and Cooty and his Supersonics.
Leo also played with Eddie Rodrigues and Steve Alvares. He was a regular on Kenya TV especial in the very popular Sunday Star Time which featured various local musicians and was really focused on jazz including Auggie Alvares, Donald Dias, Maximo Alfonso and Luis Fernandes.
He then joined Playboys - Jimmy Van Rosi, Brian, Clifford De Souza and Luis Fernandes and had a contract with New Stanley hotel for six months.
Leo and his family left Kenya for the UK in 1972.
After being in the UK for less than a year, Leo was invited by Rocky Fernandes to join his band Clubmen. A few years later Leo free-lanced with Night Fever and Break Thru from Goa. Then he formed his existing group - The Mellow Tones which is his current band. They usually play for dinner dances and The Royal British Legion clubs all around the country. He also plays with other bands when he's not working with The Mellow Tones.
Leo has an insatiable appetite for the drums … even when he is only holiday and especially on a cruise where he usually jams with the guys. He even once won a P&O cruise ship comp on the Oceania with a drum solo in 2013.
Leo has been a delightful and talented musician all his life. He deserves the accolades and the respect his peers continue to shower on him. Long may he continue. The skins are part of your soul.
Leo Rodrigues with Eddie Dias, Alex, Jack, Rocky Fernandes
From Left Leo Rodrigues with a three guys he plays within London
Leo D'Souza, Valentine D'Souza, Luis Fernandes and Leo Rodrigues