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First Steelpan Recording, 'Lion-Oh' Hell Yard SteelBand & the Roaring Lion1940

"The earliest known steelpan recording from Trinidad and Tobago was the Hell Yard Steel Band accompanying "The Roaring Lion" in 1940. This was recorded by Decca Records on February 11th, 1940, at the Sa Gomes Emporium located at Marine Square and the name of the calypso was 'Lion Oh'. , the first two lines of which were "Leggo me lion, Lion oh, Oh leggo me lion, Lion oh" and the Decca recording card listed the performers as "the Lion with his West Indian Rhythm Band."

The Decca record sheet also asserts that this performance "is the earliest known recording of a steel-band" and lists the instruments used as "boom (metal drum), tenor (two large cans or biscuit tins), du-dup, and the ubiquitous bottle and spoon"

Taken from the book 'The Birth of Steel-Drum Music and the History of the Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra' by Bukka Rennie

Attributes .
Credit is given to Cynthia Mclean for the Pan Art pieces.
Credit given to the Roaring Lion foundation for use of Lion's photographs.
All other Images appearing in this video are copyrighted to its respectful owners

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Comment by EDWARD TEDDY PINHEIRO on October 31, 2014 at 12:49pm

There was a programme on Radio Trinidad called Bring your music and come which featured some of the best know persons in the cultural field. It was well known to brig out lots of historical info about Pan, Calypso, ad dance bands. This was hosted by Winston Maynard who encouraged persons to call in to share there experiences and so a lot of info was passed on. One of the golden rules was never to say this or that was the first, rather among the first or qualify the statement so that there would be little chance of being wrong. Being one of that group, it is suggested we don't say that any event was the first, lest we may have to eat our words.

Teddy Pinheiro

Comment by Selwyn Henry on October 11, 2014 at 2:59pm

I am curious as to which 'Festival of Britain' Mr Foy Barnes refers to 1946.  See a reference from Wikipedia that highlights the history of the Festival. "The first idea for an exhibition in 1951 came from the Royal Society of Arts in 1943, which considered that an international exhibition should be held to commemorate the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition.[2] In 1945, the government appointed a committee under Lord Ramsden to consider how exhibitions and fairs could promote exports.[2] When the committee reported a year later, it was decided not to continue with the idea of an international exhibition because of its cost at a time when reconstruction was a high priority.[2] The government decided instead to hold a series of displays about the arts, architecture, science, technology and industrial design,[3] under the title "Festival of Britain 1951".[4]"

This Festival in 1951 records the first Steelband appearing in London as TASPO ( Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra). Please add to the body of information any history on the 1946 Festival. 

Comment by bob diaz on October 10, 2014 at 6:24pm

I cannot agree or disagree with previous comments,but I will present what I think..the first steelband in a movie could be the one in Harry Belafonte's "Island in the sun"filmed in Jamaica.The first steelpan to play on radio could be Raymond "dos" Edwards on Ramone Lafortune radio show called "eh beh wee doh doh"Brute force made a lot of recordings in the fifties most of them latin songs from Edmundo Ross and Perez Prado,mambos and merengue the chac chac was the dominent percussion instrument,in those times the top bands were Bert Mclean,Sel duncan,Desmond Durham,Carl Ifil,John buddy Williams,Cecil Fitt,Bob Wilson,Rod Thomas,Johnny Gomez,Lincoln Grant,and of course Cyril Diaz to name a few, note rthat names like Joey Lewis and the Dutchies are absent as they were still in short pants, also these musicians didnt take kindly to steel bands who they refer to as vagabonds and bad johns. So you see there's a lot of history to be told and we can only collect them if we all put in our two cents despite accuracy...and again we have to thank WST for giving us the opportunity to do so...

Comment by DJ on April 5, 2014 at 3:19pm
People realise that this means the first recorded Steelband in Trinidad was Trinidad All Stars right? I'm shocked at the silence of the usually vocal anti-All Stars crew in here.
Comment by Soca Professor on December 28, 2013 at 6:21pm

Nice information folks!! 

Previously I was rolling with Casablanca having the earliest known Steelband recording from 1948 but now I will roll with this.

Comment by FOY BARNES on November 14, 2013 at 6:41pm

Hi Brenda, thanks for the clarification. However, because it is pan and it came out of Trinidad, the connotation is that it is the first ever. That's all! Thanks again.

Comment by FOY BARNES on November 14, 2013 at 6:36pm

Hi Glenroy, First let me say that I HAVE NO NEED OR DESIRE TO MEASURE OR COMPARE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. ALL I AM SAYING IS THAT THERE IS TOO MANY MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PAN AND WHO DID WHAT WHEN. I do not really understand the last sentence of your comment. What do you mean by has no merit?

Is what I wrote written in French? Is the source I mentioned not credible? I DARE SAY THAT YOU HAD NO IDEA ABOUT THE FACTS THAT I PRESENTED. I thought that the forum was about presenting pan information in general. Maybe I was wrong.

Comment by EDWARD TEDDY PINHEIRO on November 14, 2013 at 6:56am

When the word came out that the war had ended, at least in Europe, it wasn't too long that the Belmont bands were on the road that very night.I was just 7 years. Not living too far, I went to Belle Eau Road to see the bands.

Apart form bugles, what may be considered kettle drums, the boom base which persons pounded with their close fist, there was one man holding a pan upright his left hand and playing it with his right. The pan was convex with a few notes. What he was playing was just a rhythm on the different notes. The melody, such as it was, came from the voices of the people as they chipped along

Teddy Pinheiro

Comment by EDWARD TEDDY PINHEIRO on November 14, 2013 at 6:37am

Very interesting piece of history. I' not to sure if the recording was done as stated. Most of Decca recordings were done at 56 Frederick Street. In any case Sa Gomes had about 4 or 5 locations  in the city. Kay also recorded All Stars circa 1957 Rhythm a la oil drum.CRS 015. I say circa because there was considerable time between recording and release, sometimes as much as a year. This bit of info comes from Lord Superior.

Teddy Pinheiro

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on November 13, 2013 at 8:40pm

Foy, I like to give credit where credit is due, and of course Antigua deserves recognition for its place in the history of the steelband, but please do not try to measure up the accomplishments of the steelband movement in Antigua against that of the steelband pioneers of Trinidad.

That exercise has no merit.

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