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Does anyone here know how pan first came to Barbados or Jamaica? Steel bands are very popular in those islands, but who took the instrument there in the first place on why? and when?

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Tourist were always fascinated with the steelpan, so it was easy for islands that promoted tourism to have ah steelband as their main attraction, as to when, I would guess in the early stages of it's development.

Interesting question.

I don't know much about the development of pan in either of these Caribbean island nations, but I'd bet that the situation was entirely different in both.

Barbados, like other islands in the Eastern Caribbean- Grenada, Antigua etc- are relatively close to Trinidad and Tobago, and were influenced by the dominant culture of T&T, since there was always human traffic between these islands, and also because of the fairly powerful radio signals from Trinidad.

So I would expect that pan is fairly well established in Barbados.

I would also mention that many Bajans have been involved in the pan scene in T&T, and quite a few have made significant contributions to the artform.

Jamaica, on the other hand is some distance from Trinidad, with less human traffic ,and that is reflected in the distinct cultural differences between these islands, even though Jamaica was identified by many (falsely I may add) as being home to the steelband and calypso.

I believe that the development of the steelband in Jamaica has been comparatively slow, especially for a country that has historic ties to Trinidad, and only relatively recently has there been a serious effort to develop pan in Jamaica..


I don't know for a fact but I will say that in the early days the other islands adopted the steelband, calypso and limbo mainly as a tourist attraction.

That may be true, Cecil, but I knew  Bajan panmen in Trini back in the day.

I never saw a live Jamaican musician in Trinidad until Carlos Malcolm brought his band to Trinidad in the early sixties :)

OK. A correction.

I remember we had a Jamaican teacher in Naparima College when I attended, so I knew of one Jamaican.

This could help:


Best regards, WerNer

Hello All

When I was conducting studies on the development of pan in Barbados, one of my interviewees asked me "what development" and although it sounded a bit harsh, it was true, we have not developed very much in the pan arena at all.  The below was taken from the A-Z of Barbados and this was also what I learnt during my studies. 

Steelpan was introduced to Barbados in 1945 by the late Albert Shilling Grannum who had been exposed to it while serving in Trinidad with the South Caribbean Regiment during the Second World War.

With more enthusiasm than musical talent, Grannum could do little to promote the art which progressed slowly, though there were a few bands established before he died in the Mental Hospital.

Trinidadian pan-tuner Randolph Simmons, otherwise known as Croppy, subsequently came to Barbados where he was associated with the All Stars Steel Band, transforming it into the top local band. By this time sponsorship from soft drink companies and friendly rivalry through competitions had further developed the steel pan until it reached a peak during the 1960’s though it never reached the height found in Trinidad, and it actually declined during the 1970’s.

Steel band or steel pan has again been on the rise in Barbados,but only during the Crop Over festival.  We once had a competition called Pang-a-lang. During the 1990’s the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the UWI produced a number of pan workshops which resulted in significantly more people playing the instrument.

Pan is now mostly concentrated in the hotels and were it not for this industry pan would be practically dead in Barbados.  By the way Barbados All Stars steelband still plays on the hotel circuit.

Thank you for this great info Janice!

When did Nerlin Taitt emigrate to Jamaica?

I think that when Trinidad was given the Capital Site to be the head of the Federated West Indies, Jamaica protested and breakaway from the federation. They invited Trinidadian to be part of their culture and give Trinidadians residential Visas to work in Jamaica. We had lost one of musicians saying he got an offer to work in Jamaica. In 1967, a band I was playing with on the way to Expo 67' in Montreal, I met some of these musicans playing in the red light area in Kingston, Jamaica


Taitt moved to Jamaica in 1963. Though he was certainly a pan man in his youth (even winning the soloist prize in the 1956 Festival), I don't believe he brought pan with him to Jamaica. By that time he was touring in Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, and elsewhere with his combo (Nearlin Taitt Orchestra).

There's at least one recording of a Jamaican steelband that predates Taitt's arrival there, "Steel Band Jump Up" by the steelband at UWI Kingston from 1957 (Decca).

However, it is said the characteristic strum of reggae guitar came from the strum of the guitar pan, brought over by Taitt...

Well if you ask the Bajans they will tell you that they were the originators of both steelpan and calypso


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