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Honoring legendary Trinidad musician Joey "Pal Joey" Lewis

I recently heard that legendary Trinidad musician Joey Lewis was ailing , and I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't say a few words in his honor.

Many may not realize it , but Joey Lewis is probably the most important and impactful musical contributor to the culture and music of Trinidad and Tobago of the latter half of the twentieth century .

His use and mastery of the electric guitar was a significant and defining change in the sound of Trinidad's music , and his style was quickly adopted by his contemporaries in Trinidad and the Eastern Caribbean ,to produce the guitar rich sound of music bands of that era , and to define how the guitar is used in Trinidad's music, even to this day.

Joey Lewis was also the first arranger / composer / bandleader to consistently compose instrumental music hits that dominated the local charts, and over the years he became a prolific composer.
(Of course there were other composers , but no one dominated the charts like Joey did , especially in the sixties)

I remember as a boy being sent on an errand to downtown Princes Town, and hearing Joey's Saga for the first time, as his guitar blasted on a juke box across the street from the store, and I remember running across the street to the Bar , to hear the music.
I had never heard a band with such a sound , particularly the guitar , and I immediately became a Joey Lewis fan.
That was about 1960.

Later , Joey started to feature keyboards which he also mastered , and an emphasis on a Latin calypso style that the fans ate up.

The Joey Lewis "Pal Joey" Orchestra has remained a dominant player on the Caribbean music scene for decades , and remains one of the longest performing bands in the entire region.

Here is the Joey Lewis Orchestra and a version ( not the original) of his early hit "Joey's Saga".

I wish him the best of health , and a quick recovery.

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Comment by Andre-Roger Dellevi on December 23, 2015 at 6:47pm

So true, take your pick ... I'm dating myself, but I used to enjoy jumping behind the "road brass bands" before they were on Big Trucks...  I'll try to find some vintage images...

Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on December 23, 2015 at 6:07pm

Andre , when the combos came on the scene in the early sixties , the Joey Lewis band had already been established as one of the leading bands in T&T.

And I do believe that the combo explosion of that era was also influenced by Joey Lewis.

Though not the first popular guitarist in Trinidad - you also had guitarists like Fitzroy Coleman and Les Sargeant , for example - , he was certainly mostly responsible  for the increased popularity of the guitar back then , especially as a lead instrument.,

Comment by Andre-Roger Dellevi on December 23, 2015 at 4:51pm

The Combo & Brass music era is greatly mixed, although you bound to hear a few selections by the DJ and weddings where everyone reminisces and always mentions the name of Pal Joey (and other notables) and his impact!!!  One of dad's (RIP) favourites from Pal Joey...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPb9Nq75KvQ

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