Brooks, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, was a flute and sax player who fostered a love of music from an early age. Playing clarinet at the Alpha Boys School led to Brooks picking up other instruments, and by the time he was in his 20's, he was playing onstage with bands like The Vagabonds and the Granville Williams Band. In the '60s he found commercial success after partnering up with trumpeter David Madden, and by the 1970's he was working as a studio musician and releasing his own singles.
Brooks worked with several influential musicians of the day and eventually teamed up with drummer Count Ossie for many projects before heading out on his own again. He would later settle in the ska band the Skatalites.
Brooks suffered a heart attack in 2010 that left him almost incapacitated; he also lived with diabetes and high blood pressure. His sister, Paulette Keise, said he passed away on Friday at New York Hospital Queens.