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Tedder Eustace is dead

Terry Joseph
December 31, 2001

Leaders of Carnival's Special Interest Groups (SIGS) yesterday held a morose emergency meeting, triggered by the passing of three-time King of Carnival Tedder Eustace.

They have extended condolences to the family and decided to honour Eustace by joining his name to the Carnival 2002 tribute to King Sailor, the portrayal that secured his first national title in 1975, playing "Cockfight," from Cito Velasquez's band Cock-a-Doodle-do. Female calypsonian Lady B, who died of cancer on September 3, is also to be honoured.

Eustace, who would have turned 57 on January 11, was discovered dead by wife Germaine on her return from church yesterday morning. Brother Follette Eustace told the Daily Express, Germaine thought it unusual for Tedder to sleep past 7 am and upon checking, discovered he had passed away. On Saturday he was up early, working on plans for his son's costume for next Carnival.

One of the best-remembered Kings of Carnival, relatives believe Tedder succumbed to a heart attack, the second one suffered this year. The earlier episode occurred upon his return home last August from Toronto's Caribana Festival, where he annually produced a Carnival band.

Speaking for SIG leaders, National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) chairman Richard Afong said: "Carnival will miss Tedder Eustace but we intend to remember him. Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold and Brother Resistance, general secretary of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) join in expressing condolences to the Eustace family, several of which are involved in Carnival.

"As chairman of Barbarossa, we feel a special loss as he has been king of our band on several occasions. He was also a personal friend and has achieved the status of a festival icon, not just by his victories at the King of Carnival competition, but his involvement with mas," Afong said. "Several of his portrayals will be in our memories for a long time."

A former manager of Coca-Cola's bottling hall Eustace was equally appreciated by his community. "He was well respected by the people of Tunapuna and thought of as nothing but a gentleman," said Ainsworth Mohammed, whose Exodus Steel Orchestra, is part of the pride, having won both national and Caribbean wide pan championships during this year.

Eustace, who was last year awarded the Humming Bird Medal Silver for his national contribution to culture, had endeared himself to masqueraders with a series of memorable portrayals. Apart from "Cockfight" (1975), he won the contest again in 1977 with "King Corbeau" (from Cito Velasquez's Let's Laugh) and finally in 1985, with "The Big Fisherman" from Thorne and Celestine's Fantasea.

When not selected for the throne, Eustace invariably finished among the top five contestants, frequently scoring second and third positions at the Carnival Sunday night (Dimanche Gras) final of the King of Carnival competition. His last high placing was in 1988, when newcomer Sean de Freitas as "The Visitor" and Wendell Brown's Jason, the Golden Fireman pushed his portrayal of "The Savage" into third place when he appeared as king of the band The Savage. He also placed third in the year following, playing "Brasilia."

Eustace came up against his son Curtis in the King of Carnival final the next year, playing "Space Encounter". Eustace junior and subsequently retired from the stage. Curtis has since won three titles, beginning in 1997 with "D'Matador", repeated victory in 1998 with "Dis is We Carnival and won again last year for "D' Rough Rider."

Curtis's mastery of his father's art perhaps provides the legacy Tedder so often worried about. Last time we spoke, at his NCBA office, he showed me an article published on March 8, 2000 written by Express Editor at Large Keith Smith under the headline "Dem Was Mas Fadder."

Tedder has highlighted a section of the column which read: "And who is going to remember, years from now, the roster of kings and the queens in the same way that some of us still remember the portrayals of yesteryear?

"Man, even as I write, there comes to mind Albert Moore's 'Bandit of Guru', and his 'Phantom Fly' and his 'Layamere' and Errol Payne's Jewelled Peacock and Tedder Eustace's 'Cock Fight' and even before them Colin Edghill's War God of Snow among others.

"Boy, dem was mas fadder!"

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