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Third World’s Ibo Cooper Dies at 71

Ibo Cooper, former member of the Third World band, died in Kingston, Jamaica on October 12 at age 71. His family confirmed his passing, which came two weeks after death of his wife Joy.

The Coopers, who were married for over 45 years, lost their son Arif in March. He was a popular Disc Jockey with Radio Jamaica, and a music producer who co-wrote ‘Hold my Hand’, a massive hit for Sean Paul in 2009.

The senior Cooper and guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore co-founded Third World in 1973, after five years in the Inner Circle band. Third World recorded a number of hit songs including their signature, ‘Now That we Found Love’, from the 1978 album, ‘Journey to Addis’.

Cooper left the band in 1997. He became a senior lecturer at the Edna Manley College of The Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, tutoring a number of musicians who went on to outstanding careers.  Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness hailed his legacy.

“I am deeply saddened at the news that one of Jamaica’s most talented and prolific musicians and founder of one of Jamaica’s finest reggae bands, Michael “Ibo” Cooper, has passed. Most Jamaicans were exposed to his prowess on the keyboards and his energetic performances with the Grammy-nominated band Third World. He also played for the group Inner Circle. Ibo was a true cultural ambassador, taking reggae music and brand Jamaica to the farthest corners of the world,” said Holness in a statement.

Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Jamaica’s minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, also spoke highly of Cooper’s contribution to his country’s music as a musician, teacher and administrator.

“I am saddened to learn of the passing of one of Jamaica’s iconic musicians, Michael “Ibo” Cooper, former member of the Inner Circle Band and founding member of the Third World Band. I wish to express my condolences to his children Arianne, Akiri and Abean and to the local and international musical fraternity. Ibo was a strong and constant voice for the music industry and an exemplary music teacher. Generations of Jamaican musicians have been shaped by him, and our industry is better for having had him. I also benefitted from his advice as a member of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB). May his soul rest in perpetual peace,” she wrote.

Ibo Cooper was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor, in 2005.

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