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Legendary Steelpan innovator, builder and tuner Bertie Marshall has passed

When Steel Talks extends sincere condolences to the Family, friends, colleagues and greater steelband fraternity, on the October 17, 2012 passing of Bertie Marshall of Trinidad and Tobago - legendary Steelpan innovator, builder and tuner.


Noted historian, journalist and film maker Dalton Narine writes:

“Bertie Marshall, 74, is a dreamer and trailblazer. A tuner of forceful personality who impressed his will on Pan.

“A harmonica player, he strove to achieve harmonics on steel. Not a single note played on the instrument in the 1950s, even by the top steel bands, resonated in his ear.

“Each note lacked something crucial to music. The blending of several notes or harmonics to beget the dominant note. That’s what Marshall accomplished through experimentation.

“As in religion - well, as in pan - every scrap of information is subjected to subjective interpretation. Anthony Williams will forever be in conversation. In 1953, Williams of North Stars, also was tinkering with the sound. Using a peculiar grooved design he termed the spider web, Williams found that by hammering octaves on each corner of a note he had eliminated overtones. However, while tuning pans in New York City with a strobe in 1969 for a Madison Square Garden concert featuring Trinidad’s most famous pianist, Winifred Atwell (accompanied by North Stars), the gospel truth did not elude Williams. “It was the first time that I had [knowingly] tuned with harmonics,” he recalls.

“By that time, Bertie Marshall’s Highlanders had won two Bomb competitions in Port of Spain. Led by a single electronically amplified tenor, the harmonically empowered steel band marked a milestone in Pan in 1965 when it performed Handel’s “Every Valley Shall be Exalted,” and, two years later, the most complex Bomb tune of all time, Rossini’s “Italiana in Algeri” (Italian Girl in Algiers). Even the basses and a couple of other pans were amplified for the 1967 road jam.

“Since that glorious epoch of the 1960s, Highlanders - and, by extension Pan - sprung up like a grass fire. The Bertie Marshall film attempts to capture the flame of his genius, and explain Highlanders’ exalted place in the pantheon of Pan.”

click to see film


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My thought are with the family of Bertie Marshall. As a double Tenor player I have often thought of Bertie and regret not having met him. RIP.

The icons are passing. We know better than those of an earlier time. Collate and curate the legacy of this giant. RIP Bertie Marshall

On behalf of my orchestra and my own personal behalf, I extend deepest condolences to the family of Bertie Marshall, distinguished son of our soil and global pan icon. Onward to Valhalla.........May your soul Rest in Peace

My condolences to the family of Mr Bertie Marshall. You have done a lot for the pan world and we will always be proud of you,You have work hard for years and now you could go and rest in peace
my Brother.

Condolences to the Bertie Marshall Family and the Pan movement a great leader has gone may his soul RIP

Rest in peace Bertie Marshall
you will be missed.

Condolences to the Bertie Marshall family. May he rest in peace.


Rhapsody Next Generation (RNG) extend condolences to the Marshall Family and the Pan fraternity on the passing of this Great Man.......RIP

Goodbye Bertie Marshall , ORTT

On behalf of the steelpan pioneers in the Steelpan Initiatives Project, those who worked so diligently on the G-Pan and the PHI,  thank you for your contribution to steelpan technology and your input in moving the cause forward. May God bless you on this next phase of your journey, hopefully free of the encumbrances you faced in the past few years and which deprived us of your mastery as a steelpan inventor.

Prof Brian Copeland, ORTT

Coordinator, Steelpan Initiatives Project , The University of the West Indies

Why is it that when one is alive and cry out for help no one hears, too many times this GREAT son of the soil had to cry-out.

How long are we going to let this happen? It is always better that to care for people when they are alive than to say how great  they were when they die.

To the Marshall family "Joy comes in the Morning"

There is no rest for Bertie, Charlo and Bradley have work for him.

The man may be dead but his legend will remain for time indefinite. RIP Bertie. You were a master tuner and true a genius. Thank you for your unmatched contributions to our country and culture. You will never be forgotten.


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