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"The pan which took 'Spree' to glory, had actually been bought from a man named Andrew "Pan" De La Bastide for a shilling (24 cents)," Goddard stated. 

"It was the first pan ever sold." 

Goddard, however, was not alone in leveling the serious charge. With him were several stalwarts of the steelband movement: Carlton Comstance "Zigilly" Barrow, former member of Hellyard (now Catelli All Stars), John Slater and Mc Kellar "Big Mac" Sandiford. 

Steelpan History Myth Busted

As Stevie Wonder sang, "When you believe in things that you don't understand, then YOU suffer". This "hoax" has been exposed since the 1980's, and yet "very superstitious" people, cannot see the "writings on the wall". So, we as a nation, are okay with a person receiving the nation's highest award, based on a lie. I am yet to meet the person, who can articulate how this untruth about such an important part of steelband history.is beneficial for the steelbands, its people, and its movement. A history, built on a lie, will not stand the test of time. What is amazing, that this is still even a debate, even after these pan pioneers busted this myth in 1987. 

Ghost. Same philosophy; different attitude.

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I am of the opinion that the History of the Pan will always reflect where the author lived, which version of History is the true one? it looks like we'll never know.

Your comments did take Mr Bukka to task.

Paddy, the FIRST injustice that is being done to the "History of Steelpan", is beginning that "history" from the point when the instrument had "notes". This dislodges it from its percussive past; that like the African skin drum, and the Trinibagonian bamboo "drum" (tambour/tamboo), the steel "drum" was utilized to produce rhythms, as opposed to melodies and harmonies. As a percussive (idiophone) instrument, even with the introduction of notes, these African rhythms, remained embedded in the music. Eventually, this became infused with other cultural influences (Indian, Latino, French, etc.), and as a nation, we created our own UNIQUE heartbeat. A rhythm ALL our own! Panorama, back in the day, had a certain heartbeat, and we embraced it. It was OURS, and it was GOOD ENOUGH! We ting!

Secondly, we must understand the influence of the "oral tradition" in our not recording the history of the "invention" of the instrument and emergence of the steelbands. Keep in mind, that African tradition centered around the "griot". The storyteller, who passed on their "history" from generation to generation. The steelpan was not the product of commercial exploit; the "inventors" were not focused on recording a history that was yet in the making. They were the history. So, I'd go light on laying the guilt trip on the early pioneers; they meant no harm.

The griot (calypsonian) became the one who would tell that history, and the two musical groups, became dependent on each other. What we need to do today, is build on existing research, not ignore the evidence that has already been presented. This research would mean the referencing of numerous books and other written documents; the interviewing of existing "pan pioneers" (before they leave us), and conducting other field research. Basically, the study of the "History of the Steelbands and Pan", is a specialized field within cultural anthropology, and makes for FASCINATING research!

Finally, I encourage ALL writers to write. In reality, the more books that are out there, the better it is for me, as a writer. (And "writers" would know what I mean by that.) Some are under the assumption that it is all about the quickest draw, however, I continue to gain reference material, on which I can expand, either in support or criticism. The more references you have, the more you can write. I may disagree with an author, but all that matters (to authentic history), is whether or not the facts disagree or not. Fact, is much different than opinion, for anyone can argue an opinion, but only the foolish continue arguing against that which has already been proven. (Think about it.)

Ghost. Same philosophy; different attitude.


Just came across your take. Very interesting. I am from Tunapuna & Mt. Hope(San Juan). The fact that I have had contact with All Stars since 1959, the very year I entered St. Mary's College, does not mean that I cannot be objective in my research on Pan.I tried my utmost to be true to the story and to link people and places that signify a new impetus to the story. In my book for instance, you will read about Lynn Taitt from Seabeas in South who went to Jamaica and in attempting to transpose the "double-second" strum on the guitar came up with Roack Steady & Reggae. Or that, though Sonny Roach of St. James made and played the first second pan, it was Belgrave Bonaparte from South who invented the "double-second" and first played it at the 1954 Music Festival; or that the first 45 gallon oil-drum tenor pan was played by Cyril "Snatcher" Guy in the Monarch cinema in Tunapuna where Jules and Ellie were still using eight-note paint pans. You will also read what Noel "Ginghee" Davidson has to say his brother Boots and Tony Williams in context of the "fourths and fifths" tenor development and who started the first steelband in Point Fortin; and even what a member of St. James Sufferers had to say about the first steelband on wheels ( a band from South) that broke down by the railway. etc. etc. Just saying...

Bukka, This is the first time I am hearing bout "Boots" from City Syncopators had anything to do with the "Fourths and Fifths" Tenor, I know Of Boots for "Bass" (always glad to know whenever I find out it's True)

The development of the steelband is multi layered.
Listening to interviews here on WST I realize it may be difficult to identify specific incidents in that history, since many of the creators were from the same era, knew each other, copied from each other and were influenced by each other.

Once it was discovered that a steel drum or pan could be tuned, it appeared that several innovators, sung or unsung were experimenting with varying results.

To choose a favorite story and assume the others are lies is unfair to the ones who contributed but are not heralded.

Furthermore, we keep asking that books be written and research be done, yet the credibility of the ones who do are questioned.
Then we wonder why many knowledgeable people choose not to participate in these discussions.

The way you separate fact from allegory, is to look at all the evidence, and then form a sensible conclusion. For example, I could say that George "Sonny" Goddard invented pan, as I may have a "vested interest" in making such a claim. However, that claim can be easily dismissed as allegory, by looking at the other supporting evidence. My dad understood this, and this is why he presented ALL sides of the arguments, compared them with TANGIBLE evidence, and then, based on the evidence, came to a logical conclusion.

Like a detective investigating a murder, you don't just take eyewitnesses' accounts, for even the latter change their stories, as time goes by. The detective looks at scientific (DNA) evidence, as well as physical evidence, in addition to the "versions" of what happened. Again, the ONLY credible approach to finding out the "truth", is to weigh ALL the evidence. And, of course, if a "witness" changes their story, and/or "flip-flops" on their statements, they MUST be considered as not being "credible". With that said, the MOST CREDIBLE sources, backed up by TANGIBLE EVIDENCE, expose the Winston "Spree" Simon origination of the steelpan as a BIG FAT HOAX! Period!!! End of story.

Believe what you choose; but please do not go out there into academia with the "False Papers" culture that we seem to have adopted. Steelbands needed a pedigree, and they chose Spree, regardless of how historically inaccurate that claim proved to be. Hey, to some Elvis is still alive, Jesus was born on December 25, and Santa Claus is coming to town; believe what you will, for again, "a lie is a lie, even if EVERYONE believes it, and the truth is the truth, even if NO ONE believes it. I a thankful for my educators' teaching me how to properly do research, and I am impressed that my dad understood the importance of citing the credible sources in his book. Ghost.

I was wondering when you would say that Ghost! Mydard? Only taking the piss! Is about time we leggo this useless topic! Of course we would all like to know, for definite! But it ain't going to happen! We beating round de same ole bushh, over and over! Leh we jus say that, several people were involved in the whole process, and, leave it at dat.....if yuh call name an' yuh leave out somebody from South, or, De East, we go always have problems!

The real question is, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE??? ENT?


Brian, you on point! That's what I appreciate about you; you "cut to the chase". lol. THAT is the "real question". Ghost.

Ghost, is this effort helping the cause? http://www.guardian.co.tt/carnival/2014-01-27/tt-steelpan-newspaper... And are you aware if anyone is researching the "griot" stories to record them for posterity also? I know when I asked PT officials, they point blank told us, "we are not aware and don't know"... I was too stunned to retort, but shouldn't you?

CECIL I certainly agree with you but I did not mean to attack Bukka or take him to task. I want this conversation to continue that way we will have a flood of info that can be studied, analized, sifted, and a better understanding be brought about. REMEMBER I am NO  authority and dont claim to be.paddy.


There is nothing wrong with the questions you put forward, as a matter of fact they were good ones.


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