Don Drummond and the Murder of Margarita

Looking into Don Drummond's home on 9 Rusden Road. Photo by Heather Augustyn

Looking into Don Drummond’s home on 9 Rusden Road. Photo by Heather Augustyn

 

I have heard over the years, read in books, and still hear today that on that fateful night, January 1, 1965, that Margarita did not give Don Drummond his medication, or gave it to him late, thus causing him to sleep through his Skatalites gig and, in anger, stab her when she returned on January 2nd in the wee hours of the morning. I want to take a moment to address this myth because I think what this argument does is very subtly places blame on Margarita for her demise, takes away some of the responsibility from Don, and gives some sort of justification or reason where there is no reason other than untreated insanity.

First on this matter, an excerpt from my book, Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist.

But many have thought over the years that Drummond became upset when he finally awoke to find he had not only slept through his performance, but that Margarita was gone. His defenders claim that Margarita manipulated his medication dosage or gave it to him late so she could go dance at the Baby Grand on Crossroads for her first show, and at Club Havana in Rockfort where she had her residency to dance the rumba for wealthy gawking men. There is no way to prove such a claim that Margarita somehow altered Drummond’s medicine he took to treat his schizophrenia, nor is there any way that anyone would know such information. Zola Buckland Sergi, Margarita’s niece, feels that many fans, band mates, or Rastafarians are skeptical of the events and merely looking for an explanation, looking to put the onus on Margarita for Drummond’s actions. She dispels this myth saying, “People say she must have given him his medication improperly and so he slept through it. She didn’t give him his medication! He took his own medication! My mom said it was impossible and people are looking for a reason why he killed her. The reason is, he was nuts!”

Now, let’s take a moment to think logically about this argument. How would anyone know that Margarita gave Don his medication late or not at all? Don never showed up at his gig that night, so he never left the house and was asleep. Margarita, the only person involved in the interchange, was dead, so was unable to tell anyone that she had done such a thing. If Don later told someone that Margarita had given him his medication late, that would be an excuse offered by the murderer, so is suspect, and has never been stated by any of the musicians. Instead, what we have are musicians or friends of Don who offer this as a sequence of events, as a way to provide reasoning. It is blaming the victim of abuse and it simply defies logic. But it speaks to the love for Don, that his friends and musicians would want to protect him, give him a reason. The reason, as Zola says, is he was insane and it was untreated properly. That is the reason, the only reason, and it is sad and horrible, but time that we accept it.

Here’s a similar blog post I wrote in October 2013. Still the myth persists, so I write it again.

http://skabook.com/foundationska/tag/anita-mahfood/

 

2 comments

  1. Didn’t Don commit suicide afterwards? I know this being a huge Ska fan but I think it should be mentioned that he met his own demise at that time as well. Thanks again as always for the great writing.

  2. Jubal Molitor, he did not commit suicide. Through much investigation, I feel confident in my determination that his death was caused by the horrid “treatment” and drugs he was on at Bellevue Mental Hospital, drugs that are now illegal because they are fatal. But you do have a good point, that this horrific event led to the death of two important people, and yes it was a horrible demise. I have visited the Bellevue Mental Hospital twice, one time more in depth, and it is certainly no where that I would ever want to be, not even in my nightmares, and this is today–back then it had to be even more horrific.

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