Don Ricardo was born in London and raised in Jamaica after migrating there as a two year old with his mother. He spent his childhood in the lush and fertile parish of Westmoreland, hailing from its capital, Savanna la Mar. As early as kindergarten, Don demonstrated his extraordinary musical prowess. It was not however until fourth grade (age 14) that his talents really began to materialise. After strong encouragement from his peers, he started to perform renditions at school concerts and talent shows to great local acclaim. The word on the street was that this youth was destined for fame. Don joined forces with another talented young hopeful - Dean Stevens (of Chalice fame). Together they toured neighbouring parishes as the Dynamic Duo and built a fair following in Negril, Montego Bay and surrounding areas. Still unsure of a career in music, Don went back to London to study computer programming, at which he excelled although he continued composing in his spare time.
Photo & text courtesy of Ruff Cutt Music & Xodus Productions.
In the autumn of 1989, Don paid a courtesy visit to the Progressive Sound Studio in London. This visit was most significant because it was the first time he had ever been inside a recording studio. Patrick Donegan (studio owner/producer) was so impressed with Don's voice that he insisted on recording him there and then. The result was that both Don Ricardo and the label, Progressive Sound, celebrated their debut release; an up tempo dancehall interpretation of the Stevie Wonder classic, Ribbon In The Sky. Don soon became a regular caller to the studio, often leaving his 'nine to five' to go straight there. His craving for musical knowledge coupled with his overwhelming desire to create sound led him to quickly develop a keen interest in sound craft and engineering. He very rapidly progressed from assisting Patrick, to engineering whole sessions on his own. As the studio roster grew, so did Don's reputation as a studio engineer. During that period his clientele list included Tenor Fly, Top Cat, Frankie Paul, Mafia & Fluxy, Leroy Smart, Sugar Minott, Nitty Gritty, Dawna Lee, Daddy Freddie, Lloyd Brown and Junior Reid, to name a few.
It was at this stage that he started to dabble with production and arrangement; before long he was also recognised as a fully-fledged producer and arranger. Don Ricardo excelled in all aspects of studio administration, from running his own label (Boombastik Muzik) to managing P.W.A. recording studio in Brixton. During this time, he was still recording as an artist for other producers and holding down his regular 'nine to five'. Such was his versatility that he released Lovers Rock singles, "Keep On Knocking" and "Honey It's You", after his success with the huge garage hit, "Best Friends". The next move was to join an outfit called the Urban Street Soul Orchestra (USSO), where he took on song writing, performing, and production duties. He also provided the vocals for the jazz-fusion project "How Times Fly" with Bugs In The Attic.
In 1996, Don became a proud first time father and paid tribute to mother and child with the heart-rending classic, "She's Having My Baby". The song topped the Reggae chart for seven weeks at the beginning of 1997; it also won Don Ricardo his first accolade - Best British Single - at the 1998 People's Annual Reggae Award.
After being introduced to the Ruff Cutt Band by the co-producer of "She's Having My Baby", Curtis Lynch Jnr., they recorded the follow up, "1st To Know", an upbeat, jazz tinged, reggae dance number, complete with a five piece horn section. Just like its predecessor, it too romped straight home and became the Christmas and New Year number one of 1998/99. He scored again in May 1999 with another top five hit, "How Can I" featuring premier saxophonist, Dean Fraser.
Don spent the beginning of the new Millennium in Jamaica; whilst he was there, he met up with Beres Hammond, who asked him to record a track at his newly built - state of the art - Silekshan Studio in Kingston. "Bet You Don't Know", backed by the Roots Radics and produced by Beres Hammond was the result. It was released as a single on March 1st 2000 in Jamaica, on the Harmony House label, and was very well received on import in the UK.
Don Ricardo performed his own live showcase on the London leg of Beres Hammonds' "They Gonna Talk" 2000 UK tour; making a surprise guest appearance during Mr Hammonds' set singing "Bet You Don't Know" with Beres' Gumption Band. Don made his second trip as a performer on the Roots Homecoming Festival in The Gambia, West Africa in June 2000 where he was again, given a very warm welcome. He also made his debut at the famed Essential Music Festival in Brighton during the following month, sharing the same stage as Morgan Heritage, Vincent Nap, Sugar Minott, Luciano and Freddie McGregor amongst others. His latest 7" single is entitled "On Your Mind". The riddim for this tune, built by Don at the Ruff Cutt studio is an update of the reggae classic "Zion Gate", with new lyrics supplied by Don Ricardo & Paul Cumberbatch. The track was mixed at Ruff Cutt's studio by Tony Phillips, Bubblers & Don and was produced by Don Ricardo for his own Quaverlove Productions.
Don is currently working on his debut album "Wherever You Are", which is close to completion.
It is not easy to summarise this young man's talents or abilities, as his range covers the spectrum of modern Black music. But in a nutshell...
Don Ricardo is a producer of rare quality.
Don Ricardo is a perceptive songwriter.
Don Ricardo is a serious arranger.
Don Ricardo is a singer of the highest order.