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* Iron to Steel
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* Tripoli: Lloyd Butcher
* Wilbert 'Be-eh' Forde
* George Braithwaite
* Roy Harper
* Sonny Jones
* Sonny Roach
* Kenrick Thomas
* Belgrave Bonaparte
* Hamilton Thomas
* George Goddard
* Henry Pacho’t
* Open pan debate


Brief Steel pan history

Early steelpan movement
This exclusive Sun photograph showing some of the first panmen playing biscuit tins with sticks. This picture was supposedly taken around the late 30's. Young Mannette (second from right) tuning some of the first pans as we now know the instrument to be. Mannette, a pioneer of the steelband art form, now resides in the United States where he tutors and continues experimentation with the instrument.
Taken from the Sun newspapers, Friday, March 21, 1986

August 13, 2000

Mass exodus from Haiti, Martinique & Guadeloupe
White population 100 - 2500
  • Introduction of Mardi Gras (Christmas to Ash Wednesday)
Slave & colored population 500 - 16000
  • On plantation festivals banned
  • Establish own celebration Cannes Brulees (Canboulay)
  • Introduce own dance (calinda) & own songs to African drums
Canboulay celebrated yearly on August 1st, later moved to Sunday before Ash Wednesday
Mardi Gras on Monday & Tuesday
Ex-slaves replace Mardi Gras with Canboulay
Whites withdraw and denounce the festivities

Banning of Sunday revelry
Canboulay riots
Ordinance African drums outlawed from participating in Canboulay
Band size restriction

  • Yields sporadic & violent outbursts over the years
Colonial government & business community take control of Canboulay
  • Organized into disciplined parade of masquerade bands
  • Bands vie for competitive prizes
  • Upper class return to festivities
Outright banning of African drums by the British
Tamboo Bamboo replace African drums as main musical medium

  • "boom" for low tones
  • "foule" or "buller" for mid-range
  • "cutter" for counterpoint/lead
Tamboo Bamboo banned
Gonzales Tamboo-Bamboo Band introduce bass pan

Alexander Ford establishes The Alexander Ragtime Band
Sweet-oil pans, dust bins, biscuit pans: convex - shape
Sticks without rubber

Steelband competition held at Queen's Park Oval
  • Alexander Rag Time Band (winner)
  • Hell Ward
  • Second Eleven
World War II (1939-1945)
  • Carnival suspended
  • Bands parade illegally
3 note ping-pong introduced
Experimentation begins
Roaring Lion - first calypso ever composed for the steelband
  • Alexander Ragtime Band
Brute Force (Antigua) - first band to use rubber on sticks to play bass
Hollywood influence on band names (violence, force, terror, heroes & movies)
  • Hell Yard - "All Stars"
  • Merry Boys - "Casablanca"
  • Laventille Boys - "Desperadoes"
  • River Lady - "Destination Tokyo"
Age of "badjohn"
Invaders formed by Ellie Mannette
V.E. day (May)
Tenor kettle (5 notes), ping pong, cuff boom, dudup (bass kettle) appear in the bands of revelers
Developments (1945-1950)
  • sweet-oil drums (ping pong) sunk in convex fashion
    • 5 to 7 notes
    • held in one hand, rubberless stick in other
    • oil drum sunk in concave fashion
    • 15 notes with rubber-tipped sticks
  • competitions begin in Port of Spain & San Fernando
  • notes continue to be added to instruments
Antigua Steelband Association formed - 8 members
  • "The Steelband Herald" published as its official paper
...steelbandsmen attained a standard of performance which equals if not surpasses that of the best there is in Trinidad., Sunday Guardian, January 26, 1951, p.17
Antigua's "Brute Force" steelband gets picture in "The Times Survey of the Colonies"
Hell's Gate is planned to represent West Indian steelbands in Festival of Britain
Steelband Committee setup by government to investigate steelband violence and to find solutions
  • Cannon M.E. Farquhar - chairman
  • George E. Mose - chief probation officer
  • Carlyle P. Kerr - solicitor
  • Lennox O. Pierre - solicitor
Albert Gomes defends steelband men
Public should discipline Steelband prejudices, January 8, Sunday Guardian "Behind the Curtain" column J
White college students play pan in streets of Port of Spain, later to become Texaco Dixieland
Steelbands clash
  • Feb 21 Invaders attacks Tokyo (on Carnival Tuesday)
  • Mar 2 Casablanca & Invaders meet, agree to bury hatchet... meeting attacked... bombarded with stones & bottles...
  • Mar 6 More steelbands agree to end clashes, meeting at Old Prison Quarry, more than 500 members and supporters present from March Hill 60, Invaders, Casablanca, Destination Tokyo, Crusaders, Merry Maker, All Stars and Desperadoes
Cannon Farquhar defends steelband men
  • link to "dark past of slavery, plus a century of economic deprivation", March 12, Sunday Guardian
Steelband Association formed by Lennox Pierre & Carlyle Kerr
  • President Sidney Gallop of Crusaders
  • 76 bands joined
  • banned steelband competition for next 5 years
    • poor judging contributing factor to violent clashes between steelbands
  • introduced steelband recital (June)
Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) established
  • Lieutenant Griffith of St. Lucia Police Band is musical director
  • formed specifically for Festival of Britain
  • toured France and United Kingdom for 3 months
  • 11 best players from the country, 13 reserves
    • Orman "Patsy" Haynes / Casablanca
    • "Boots" Davidson / City Syncopators
    • Sterling Betancourt / Crossfire
    • A. DeLabastide / Chicago
    • Dudley Smith / Rising Sun
    • Winston "Spree" Simon / Tokyo
    • Granville Sealey / Tripoli
    • Clive Belgrave / Southern Symphony
    • Ellie Mannette / Invaders
    • Anthony Williams / Sun Valley
    • Sonny Roache
    • Theo Stephen / Free French
  • Operation Britain - to raise $15,000 for TASPO
  • July 6, TASPO departs on San Mateo, Sonny Roache ill, left behind in Martinique
  • September, Winston Spree gets contract to teach pan music at University of Nigeria & Ghana
  • 3 drum bass boom
  • 2 drum cello coom
  • establish complete chromatic range of notes from ping pong to bass
Trinidad Music Association accept steelband men after initial rejection, Music Festivals no longer off limits
Bands from south form: Southern Steelbands Association, 25 members
George Goddard elected President of Steelband Association (June)
  • 12 member band
  • Constitution drawn
"Desperadoes" & "San Juan All Stars" clash
Bertie Marshall & Anthony Williams introduce
  • Harmonic tuning
  • Extended range of orchestra
  • Bass pans on wheels, entire band on wheels (Anthony Williams)
Steelbands Association renamed National Association of T&T Steelbandsmen
Carnival Development Committee change name of competition
1st prize raised from $350 to $1000
1st "Steelband's Panorama" held at Queen's Park Savannah, February 22
Participants include, North Stars, Sundowners, Desperadoes, Modern Sunland, Invaders, City Symphony, Casablanca, Starlift, San Juan All Stars, City Syncopators, Crossfire, Dixie Harps, Merrytones, Metronomes, Merry Stars, Metronomes, Nocture, Prodigal Philharmonics, Renegades, Sputniks, Steel Stylers, Tropical Harmony, Wonderland (Port of Spain), Wonderland (Chaguanas)
Calypsonians try to gain advantage in Carnival Road March competition, accused of giving scores to steelbands.
April 11
  • Government Aid for establishment of National Steelband
  • Ellie Mannette chosen as tuner
  • Grant not to exceed $1500 for tuning
Association establish National Steelband and organize steelband Festival, Crossfire wins Festival
  • Wolfgang Krause of Germany films Ellie Mannette tuning, slips out of country on yacht, violates agreement with Association & government
  • Moral Re-Armament (MRA) organization invites National Steelband to USA
North Stars win Panorama
North Stars expelled from Association by general membership
Rudolph Charles elected leader of Desperadoes, later will introduce
  • chromed pans
  • nine bass
  • quadrophonic pan
  • triple tenor
  • rocket bass
  • aluminum canopies
22 players chosen for National Steelband performance in USA, Emmanuel Riley(Invaders), Errol Zephrine (Starlift), David Samuel (Prodigals), Rudolph Johnson (Fascinators), Norbert Augustine (Wonderland Symphony)
Band performs in Michigan, West Virginia, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cavaliers win Panorama
Easter Sunday, Desperadoes 1st steelband to play in church
National Steelband (20 members) attends Festival of Arts in the UK
Desperadoes win Panorama - 50,000 in attendance
Desperadoes go to Africa (Senegal)
Cavaliers win Panorama
Anthony Williams suggests local tunes to be used with test pieces
Desperadoes tour Zambia
Harmonites win Panorama
Starlift win Panorama
CDC, the sole sponsor of Panorama
Police Superintendent, Anthony Prospect suggests steelbands use Concert Pitch when tuning, "A" above middle "G", 440Hz, (universally accepted pitch)
North Stars Steel Orchestra holds recital with Winnifred Atwell at Queen's Hall
Desperadoes leader, Rudolph Charles suggests to prime minister, Eric Williams to set up co-operative tp manufacture steelband instruments
Prime minister meets with steelband leaders
Co-operative agreement between Prime Minister & 17 steelbands
Goddard and PNM clash
Steelband & Black Power Movement
  • State of Emergency declared
  • Steelband Music Festival cancelled
George Goddard resigns as president of NATTS
NATTS changes name to Pan Trinbago
$15,000 awarded to Panorama Winners
South Steelband Movement formed - stage own Panorama
Panorama appearance fee - $500 for preliminaries
DJ's impact carnival scene both in US and Trinidad
Panmen boycott Panorama for more money
  • Cost of preparing steelbands for panorama $15,000 - $20,000
  • Cost of new band $60,000
Panorama appearance fee $5,000
Eric Williams dies
Rudolph Charles dies
We are always updating these records
when we get verifiable information
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