When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music


by Dalton Narine

Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams takes in a practice session at the Desperadoes panyard with leader Rudolph Charles at his side (Government Information Services via the Digital Pan Archive)

A PM and a steel band legend build an alliance to benefit pan and a community

Rudolph Charles – The Hammer himself, the headstrong leader of Desperadoes on Laventille hill. He migrated there to be with family, but the development of pan had always been his fire. The Carnival over, he’d be in chilly LA engaging himself in various aspects of the art – tuning, inventing, metallurgy (the technique of working with metals) and forming relationships with drum factories.

Rudolph Charles

An American man and I were chatting with Rudolph in the living room when, an hour into the conversation, the Desperadoes leader called out to his wife, Carol, to bring him the box. It came to us as a wee vault that likely held the BIG mystery of the culture’s Nativity. Instead, it was stashed with letters and documents from the prime minister, some of them in his handwriting, all addressed to Rudolph Charles.

But, why me? Rudolph had told family and close friends that he would die young, like his father, Sydney Charles, who passed away in his mid-40s. So his soul had to have seen the signs.

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