Members of the Musical Fraternity in the Cayman Islands gathered to say Good-bye to one of their own on Wednesday night, 18th September, 2019.Stanley Ebanks was held as a man of the people in the community.
Loved by all who knew him, his time playing with popular ensembles such as the Swanky Kitchen Band and other notable acts, along with his kind and humble spir-it, won him the hearts of many.
William Stanley Ebanks, known as Stanley, Stano or Stan-man was born on Wa-tercourse Road, West Bay on 13th July 1954 to Henry Stanley Ebanks and Francis Beaulah Ebanks.
From the very start, music was a part of shaping his character and would continue to play a major role in his life. As a young boy, he would follow his favorite musi-cians around West Bay and other parts of Cayman to hear them play. These in-cluded legends such as Mr. Duxie Ebanks and Erskine Ebanks as well as his own father who was a good musician.
Stan-man came from a very musical family and his father’s siblings played guitar, piano and accordion. His father was actually a harmonica player and would some-times get together with other musicians to perform.
Stanley’s grandfather Charlie Orrett was a fiddler and his grandmother Sarah Lilli-an Orrett played a cow skin drum. It was her who gave Stanley his first introduc-tion to drums, taught him about different beats and even let him use her sticks to play.
In addition to his grandmother, his other inspiration for drums/percussion was Aunt Julia Hydes.
He would often spend time in her home after school which gave her the opportuni-ty to take him on her back step and show him her unique drumming style and how to beat drums with sticks. As he got older he remembers hanging out with Bob Ebanks and going into the bush to play their own drums which they made from old milo cans.
It was obvious from early on that he had a keen interest in percussion instruments.
In his formative years, he thoroughly enjoyed watching the Humble and the Meek perform especially, Derby Jennings, Leonard Bodden and singer/percussionist Edward Solomon.
As he got a bit older - but still not old enough to go inside - the place to be in West Bay switched to Club Inferno- which boasted international visiting performers such as Byron Lee and the Drangoneers, Inga Chin, the Mighty Sparrow, the Tradewinds and The Merry Men.
Stanley found a way to check it out by climbing up over the wall or he would look through the block holes and take in the amazing sounds and sights.
When he was finally old enough to go into certain establishments, his love for mu-sic grew even more. Even during times when he didn’t have a car, he could always find a way to get a ride to George Town to watch local bands play, one of them be-ing the Caymaneers.
Other than the Humble and the Meek, he observed that few of the Caymanian bands had a serious percussionist as part of their setup.. He got his first big break and at around the age of 18 or 19 he got to jam with the Caymaneers when he was around for a performance at the Ace Club in Scranton, George Town.
He got to play with a few other West Bay bands namely the Desperados, Rhythm Posse and Chosen Few. But the first band in which he could call himself a perma-nent fixture and buckle down to take his music seriously was Thanks and Praises, which at the time included Jugga, Rudy, Mitch ‘Highlight’.
He truly represented the very best of home-grown talent. Being self-taught he de-veloped his own unique style based off what he had learned and seen performed by the percussionists in his life. He also was influenced by the international music that he would hear while listening to RJR and JBC.
Stanley always noted that many bands didn’t appreciate what percussion could add to them. Others focused on guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals. And while he also dabbled with some other instruments he focused in on percussion. Soon Stanley’s reputation spread across the islands as his commitment and passion for percussion instruments became obvious in his tasteful performances. He was in-vited to play with many other bands such as Local Motion, Mel McCoy, Sugar and JR Douglas.
Stanley joined the Swanky Kitchen Band when it was still a 5 piece group around 2008/2009 and performed with them for just over 10 years.
Swanky Band Leader Samuel Rose commented, “Stanley had a very unique per-cussion style and it was a perfect fit with Swanky’s unique sound. But to is he was far more than a bandmate. He was family and we will treasure every minute of his most gentle and generous soul. He left this community better than he found it. We are so grateful for all who lent support throughout his illness. He left this earth knowing he was loved.”
Another Musician noted, “Stanley had the unique ability to fill the sound. He was blessed with a wonderful sense of timing and his percussion was always tasteful and not overdone. “Percussionists can often be overlooked but his current band Swanky can attest that his absence is conspicuous and their sound feels incom-plete without him.”
“This is a testament to how much other local musicians valued his contributions. There have been many occasions when Stan had gone to play with a band at a concert and all the other bands on the stage asked him to jam with them through-out the night.’ noted CMEA President Jean Eric Smith.
For Stanley music wasn’t about the money. He was also a philanthropist in his own right, always willing to donate his time to play for the sick, elderly, or for fund-raisers for others who were in need.
More than 40 years in the music business, carried Stanley over the world and he encouraged musicians to never give up, to respect one another and to be fair to one another and Music.
He will be missed.