- THOMAS — Ambrose “Boots” Schmidt, a resident of St. Thomas and former lead trumpeter and arranger of Jam Band — once the most recognized Virgin Islands calypso group — died on Tuesday while trying to offload a trailer loaded with ice, according to police. V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Glen Dratte, citing a police report, said the trailer fell on Mr. Schmidt.
Mr. Dratte said a police investigation revealed that Mr. Schmidt “was putting down the trailer, and while rolling down the arms, the trailer started to rock and fell” on Mr. Schmidt.
The tragic incident sent a wave of mourning throughout the territory and especially in St. Thomas, as the island grieved the untimely passing of yet another member of Jam Band. Mr. Schmidt was 50.
Ambrose “Boots” Schmidt
Trevor Nicholas Friday, known as “Daddy Friday”, was the leader of the group during its heyday, and the lead vocal. In fact, Mr. Friday’s distinct voice was synonymous with the band, which brought major hits annually to the Virgin Islands, the wider Caribbean and many parts of the world.
Mr. Friday, who helped Jam Band win 20 road march titles, died in 2005.
According to MNI Alive, which has written obituaries for both Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Friday, Mr. Schmidt, who is originally from St. Eustatius, Netherland Antilles, started playing music at the age of eight as a third grade student at the Joseph Gomez Elementary School with instructor Louis Taylor.
Mr. Schmidt did not only write, arrange and produce music for many of the territory’s leading artists and bands, he also performed countless gigs of varying musical genres, according to MNI Alive.
A number of the territory’s biggest bands benefited from Mr. Schmidt’s talent, including the following, according to MNI Alive:
• Tropical Expressions (Northside)
• Irie Vibes (Old Tutu)
• Eddie and the Movements with the late great Eddie Francis, his Smith Bay neighbor, and the person who is credited with teaching him the formula;
• Beta Band and Exodus (AXA)