When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Interesting Steelband Facts and Trivia.

Compiled by: Jerry Bain
TRINIDAD ALL STARS : This band started in 1935 as the “Hell Yard Boys”
They changed their name to “Second Fiddle” in 1936
They were also known as “Bad Behavior”
In 1938, they changed the name to “Cross of Lorraine “
”The finally became “All Stars” in 1939.
The“Trinidad” was added in 1940 as suggested by their flagman, Jitterbug
Their original sponsor was “Catelli”
Under new sponsorship, they’re now known as “Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars”
INVADERS STEEL ORCHESTRA: Started out as “Oval Boys” in the 1940’s
In 1945, they changed to “Invaders”
Affectionately known as “The Harps” because of their sweet music.
Their original sponsor in the 1960’s was Shell
Sponsorship changed to “Trintoc” and “Petrotrin”
They are now known as BWIA Invaders.
DIXIELAND STEEL ORCHESTRA: They began in 1946 in Scott Bushe St.
Originally known as the “Boys of Iwojima” in 1948
Name changed to “Melody Makers”
Changed again in 1950 to “Dixieland”
Original sponsor was by Grell & Co, sponsors of “Jeffrey’s Beer” ( $600.00, T-shirts
and 4 cases of beer )
Their “falgwoman” was Edmond Harts’ wife, Lil.
In the 60’s they played for “Alcoa” and the “Country Club”
In 1962 they were sponsored by “Texaco”
They were the first steelband to play on local radio, on Sam Ghany and Frank Prados’ “Hi Neighbor” radio show.
They also won the music festival in 1960, with their rendition of “Agnus Dei”
No known sponsors at this time.
DESPERADOES: Known as the “Dead End Kids” in 1942
Originally sponsored by “Coca Cola” and known as the “Gay Desperadoes”
They’re the only band to win 3 consecutive Steelband Music Festival titles
( 1986, 1987, and 1988 )
Named the “Steelband of the Century “ by Pan Trinbago
Awarded the Chaconia Medal of Merit
Sponsored by WITCO since 1980
TOKYO: Formed in 1942, they were originally known as “John John Boys”
Name changed to “Marabuntas”, then “Prodigal”, and later “Chinatown”
Last name change was “Destination Tokyo”
In 1963 they were sponsored by “Carib”
The original “John John Boys” were also responsible for forming pan sides
such as “Fascinators”, “City Symphony”, “Crusaders” and “Tropical Harmony”
CITY SYNCOPATORS: Formed in 1950 after a split with members of “Casablanca”
Originally sponsored by the “Federal Tobacco Co.” of Belmont ( makers of Diamond )
Played “Poets and Pheasants” in the1966 music festival to beat the “North Stars” who played the same tune.
Band now defunct.
TRIPOLI STEEL ORCHESTRA: Originally known as “Grow More Food”
Sponsored by “Esso” in 1956, they toured extensively and played at the Trinidad and Tobago pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal.
They have the distinction of being the first to have amplified pans on the road in carnival of 1956. ( sorry Hilanders fans, the Bertphone came in the ‘80’s )
Their first Captain was Joseph “Joe Crick” Christopher and it is said, that after an argument with his leading player at the time, Grandville Sealey, ( who ended up being banned for 99 years from the panyard ) some of their players left to form other bands, such as “Crossfire” with Sterling Betancourt and “ Wonder Harps” with Othello Mollineaux
NORTH STARS: Formed in 1946 by members who left the “Harlem Nightingales”
The bands original name was “Nob Hill”.
Changed their name to “Sun Valley” and then to “North Stars” in 1950.
In 1952, they were sponsored by “Pan Am”
They have the distinction of being the first band to win Panorama in 1963, playing the Mighty Sparrows’ “Dan is de Man” arranged by Tony Williams.
Band now defunct since 1965.
POWER STARS: Formed in 1951 by Mc Donald Readhead, its original name was “Blue Stars”
They were sponsored by T&TEC in 1967 through the help of Mr. Fitz Blackman, then Mayor of Port of Spain.
Some members left and eventually formed “Humming Bird Pan Groove”
Their panyard was at the Western Main Rd. near Fort George Rd.
EXODUS : This band is relatively new ,and was formed in 1980
Most of their players were from the “Gay Flamingoes” from St. Johns Rd in St Agustine
The “Pan Ramajay” competition was the brainchild of the band and has been very successful.
After 2 straight years of winning the Panorama championship, they were designated into 2nd place by Phase II in the 2005 Panorama by a mere 20 points.
CASABLANCA: They started out in 1937 as the “Merry Boys” at the foothills of 42 steps ( Oxford St. for those out of town folk )
They won the Jaycees Steelband title in 1947 and 1948 at the Palladium Cinema in Tunapuna
Sponsored by Old Oak in 1962, and now sponsored by ISCOTT
In 1964 the won Gold at the Atlanta Film Festival for composition and background music, under Anthony Prospect
Most of their original players left to form “Casablanca Steel Orchestra in Berne, Switzerland .
FREE FRENCH: Started in San Fernando in 1941
Originally known as “The Snow” and changed its name to “Cross of Lorraine”
and then to “Free French”.
They joined with Southern Metronomes in 1965 to become known as “Acme Free French Metronomes” and were sponsored by Acme Supplies of San Fernando
Also sponsored by OWTU for some time.
HATTERS: Formed in 1946 and originally called “Broadway Syncopators”
Changed their name to “Broadway Hatters” in 1950
Most of their players were from Cavaliers and Silhouettes
Once sponsored by “Maritime Life” and now sponsored by “Trinmar”
HARMONITES: Founded in 1961 they were known as “Dodge City Boys”
They changed names to “Wonderland ”, then “Harmonites” in 1965.
In 1971 the band was briefly known as “Road Runners #1” after they split with Solo as a sponsor after 25 years.
In 1965, a competition was held in Woodford Sq. to decide the top steelband. The winner would pick the sponsor they wanted. The 4 sponsors were, Solo, Vat 19, Y. de Lima and Carib. The prizes were, 1 case of Vat 19, 2 cases of Carib and 4 cases of Solo.
Harmonites won the competition, and the rest is history. They became “Solo Harmonites”
PAMBERI: This band was formed in 1980
It was a combination of players from 2 other bands, “Finland” and “Marzicans”
POTENTIAL SYMPHONY: Formed in 1965, and was originally known as “East Side Symphony”.
Most of the players were from San Juan All Stars
Originally sponsored by GTE Sylvania until 1990.
Now sponsored by Royal Castle as of Nov. 1992
MERRYTONES: Formed in 1947 in Diego Martin ( Green Hill )
Originally known as “Ice Water”
Name changed to “Northern Syncopators” in 1958
Finally changed to Merrytones in 1968
RENEGADES: Started in 1958 with members from Bar 20, Syncopators and Casablanca.
Originally sponsored by “Paramount Films”
Changed sponsorship to “Amoco Oil Co” and now sponsored by “BP Trinidad Ltd”
The name Renegades was apparently suggested by a loyal supporter, “Gold Teeth.”
PHASE II: Formed in Sept. 1972 , mostly by ex Starlift members.
The 1st steelband the Panorama championship playing their own tune,
( 1987…Dis Feelin nice )
Also repeated in 1998 with Woman is Boss
SILVER STARS: Started in 1950 by Ramon Young
Taken over in 1954 by Junior Pouchet
Sponsored in 1965 by Coca Cola
Now sponsored by Excellent Stores
This band came from the extended line of the Chans, especially the twins, Ronnie and Ray, the Youngs and the Quong Sings.
They are the only steelband to win the “Band of the Year’ title in 1963 portraying “Gullivers Travels” led by Russell Charter.
SAVOYS: Formed in 1950 in Laventille
Originally sponsored by Esso
Most of the players came from “ Tin Pan Alley”, Mission to Moscow” and “Torrid Zone”
Also had sponsorship from the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964
WEST SIDE SYMPHONY: Formed in 1963 by a collection of players from the “Harlem Nightingales”, and “North Stars”.
Later changed their name to “Sunjets” after being sponsored by BWIA
TROPICAL ANGEL HARPS: Formed in 1977 when players from “Enterprise Angel Harps” and “Golden Glow Tropical Melody” joined forces.
BOSTON SYMPHONY: This band was formed when a split developed between the “stage side” players of Trinidad All Stars over a dispute on contracts to play at the Hilton Hotel.  The band lasted only 2 years.

Jerry Bain can be contacted at jerry.bain@sympatico.ca ...


click for more http://www.panonthenet.com/news/interesting_steelband_facts_and.htm

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Those "facts" are for the most part incorrect. The band which launched the steelband movement was Alexander's Ragtime Band and that came out in 1939. Second Fiddle could not have existed as a name before October `939 when the film Irvin Berlin's Second Fiddle premiered at the Deluxe Cinema. etc etc.
Wasn't All Stars called Trinidad Hilton All Stars in the early sixties?
Thanks for some of the infomation. I see that this was first written after 1992. I am not going to debate the writer, but please be advised that Desperadoes have been with their current sponsor since Mid 1965 and not 1980.
Also the writer could have stated more facts, like who was the first tuner to use the 55 gallon drum, and who was the first Steel Orchestra to be nominated in for a grammy award as new artistes.
Love, Peace, and Pan
What about Starlift
Hello Stanley,
That Starlift question was on my mind also, but I am a man for love, peace and pan. (lol)
I want us all as pan lovers to dialogue, whenever we differ.
I forgot to include that the years of Desperadoes Music Festival victories were in 1986, 1988 and 1992; not 1987.
Lets now give kudos to All Stars for being always in top three positions at all of their finals appearance at the Classical Competitons, and was the first to win (4) Pan Is Beautiful Competitions. Also, Kudos to Exodus for becoming the first Steel Orchestra to get a beaver trick. The years are 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008.
well done ian and kim for correcting
so we all have a great knowledge of the history of pan
at one time dixieland were called - texaco sky chiefs
i think mico skair and revel sankar were in charge then
Hello Evan,
Do not forget to contact me upon your arrival. Thanks for the info, but I thought that Curtis Pierre was always the man behind Dixieland. I will contact him for clarification.
I only knew of arranger Noel "mico" Skair when his arrangements won the traditional panorama for World Wide in 1990 and 1993.


I found a photo from October 1973 showing the Belmont Texaco Sky Chiefs from my greatuncle's travels- I have added it under my photos and will add it here. Any idea where this might have been? 

Thank you,


Here's the pic. 

about potential the band was known as East side and was relocated from the croisse to the bus route in the 70's and was later relocated to their present location it was during the move they simply changed their name to potential and came in 3rd place in the rama 1977 ,thanks for making the correction
Hello Sweet Eustace,
This is not to correct you, but to big up Potential for placing 2nd to Desperadoes at Panorama 1977. They may have lost by 1/2 of a point, which will be the closest. Their tune may have been a collaboration of arrangers, Earl Brooks and Laurence Guerra.


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