The nineteen sixties were my formative years, and was a great time to be young in Trinidad , especially since our musical culture , influenced by modern trends, had reached perhaps its most vibrant and creative era.
That was the decade during which the steelbands matured into a viable musical alternative to the wind and string instrument bands , both in parties and dances, and on the road at Carnival.
In the early sixties the dance bands also improved significantly, with big new sounds from bands like the Clarence Curvan Band , The Dutchy Brothers band , Joey Lewis, the Bonaparte Brothers , and others , including a few years later the band I consider to be the best of the big band era , the Ron Berridge band..
Bands moved away from the formal dance hall style of the fifties as featured by the Sel Duncan Orchestra , for example , to a more modern youthful sound influenced by rock and roll and Latin American sounds.
In this musically rich environment of the early sixties , we also saw the growth and popularity of the combo style band.
Influenced by instrumental rock groups like the Ventures , Booker T and the MGs and others, "combo-mania " as we called it exploded on the scene and caught the imagination of the youth.
One of the pioneers and most influential of the early combo groups was the Ansel Wyatt Combo.
The band featured Ansel Wyatt on lead guitar , supported by Steve Khan on second guitar , with the Sammy brothers ( with Morris "Boojie" Sammy on bass ) as rhythm section.
The Ansel Wyatt Combo was incredibly popular , and garnered a large and enthusiastic following , especially among us who were teenagers at that time ; particularly since the band members were no more than teenagers themselves.
On a personal note , the success of this band inspired some friends and I to form our own combo , The Silhouettes Combo of Marabella , which achieved a moderate level of success , even after I left T&T in 1968.
As the combo movement grew ,the combos became more sophisticated , including vocalists , keyboards and even wind instruments in some instances.
However , the cultural importance of Ansel Wyatt and his pioneering combo cannot be overstated , and Ansel Wyatt should be recognized as an influential contributor to Trinidad's culture of the nineteen sixties and seventies.
With little fanfare , and unfortunately little public acclaim , Ansel Wyatt passed away on June 18th , 2017.
He was an authentic Trinidadian guitar hero.
May he Rest in Peace.
*** R.I.P. Ansel G. Wyatt (Dec 10, 1943 - Jun. 18, 2017) ***