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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This information is very useful, very didactic and a good teaching aid in assisting the younger pan enthusiasts, and even some of us older ones, with an understanding of the evolution of some of our famous, and not so famous, steel orchestras. This is good work which must be usefully harnessed. The corrections will be forthcoming if errors are made I can assure you. To the WST people I say keep this information available for as long as you possibly can so that all and sundry can make use of it. And a very sincere "thank you" to the member who had the foresight to run with this. Pax et Amor.
Hey Jerry Bain. Boston Symphony is back. Scaled down yes but the name has been appearing at carnival time, so I guess that qualifies me to say they are back. Congrats on the work at the same time.
any body know the Solo harmonites story in 1974 panorama did they change the tune and went on to win panorama,This might be a feat
Name the band that went with two different arrangers in the same year, arranging the same song... this is fairly easy and perhaps there is more than one example... but I am thinking of one in particular
Hello Noah,
Since Harmonites' "Jericho" of 1974, was started by Mr. Earl Rodney and finished by Ruppert Mark,
this is my choice.
No I mean a band that learned an entire arrangement by one arranger, scrapped it, and then relearned a whole new arrangement by a different arranger from scratch. Hint, this was in 1996.
1996... let me see...............

Wasn't that the year that Boogsie was , shall we say , indisposed, and he had Anise Hadeed arrange for Phase II?

The tune was "Mind Yuh business" composed, I believe by Boogsie himself.

Anise's arrangement was good enough to get Phase II to the Finals, but that wasn't good enough for Boogsie.

On final's night he had his band play his own completely different arrangement, and believe it or not,
He won it all!!

BTW, IMHO both arrangements are classic;however like the judges, I'll give the nod to Boogsie.
the first time boogsie won panorama, he scrapped the whole song the night before north zone finals, and won the north zone and went on to win the panorama, irregardless to critisisms about pan players not being musically literate enough, many bands have done marvels in panorama, eg hatters started doing home for carnival and days before they asked Achiba to change the tune to Flag woman he did and the band had two pieces, but opted to switch back to home for Carnival, all stars started Woman on the bass tuesday before Panorama, we laughed at them then cried for our selves the sunday, Desperadoes started Rebbecca from scratch the tuesday B4 panorama and finished it Friday morning about 8am and won panorama, I took a100 school kids who never played pan in their lives taught them verse an chourus tuesday , and we ran into dificulty with the band that was lending us the pans and was given two days to finish the song they learnt it,pan players are underated musicians by their peers, Noah were you a Harmonites man I often would marvel at the way players were able at short notice to deliver music with little or no knowledge of music theory or skills,hats off to all (without exception) panorama musicians
Yeah I played in Harmonites this year.
You got it. Anise' arrangement is great. Typical beautiful music from Anise. But Boogsie's is maybe my favorite he ever did for Phase II.
Ok now I see. "Mind your business" from 1996.
Ok you got me! In my book one of my questions is, Name the arranger who had a mere 12 days to prepare, and won the semi- final, but placed 2nd at Panorama.
Hey get your facts correct on when despers was sponsor by witco, recheck your years my friend, its incorrect, it was long before 1980 that they were sponserd by witco,


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