Best Ever Musicians, Calypsonians, Bandleaders, Entertainers, etc
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
With assistance from Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool
September 13, 2010
Updated: October 18, 2010
For the purpose of this treatise, calypso is defined as (1) “expression of thought, deed and/or musical melodies wherein the calypsonian depicts/analyzes the multi-faceted problems of society in poetic form” and (2) the “people’s voice in song.”
Ergo, the following litany represents the best ever musicians, calypsonians, bandleaders, entertainers, etc, in T&T of all time.
Best ever calypso recording all-stars orchestra of all time:
Piano: Bertram Inniss
Keyboards: Pelham Goddard
Alto sax: Harold “Vasso” de Freitas, Frankie Francis, Roy Cape
Tenor sax: Cyril Diaz, Hendren Boucaud
Lead guitar: Pal Joey lewis
Second guitar: Boyie Lewis
Trumpet: Errol Ince
Drums: Errol Wise
Bongos: Conrad Little
Coming off the bench:
Piano: Beverly Griffith
Alto sax: George and Lio Boucaud
Tenor sax: Roderick Borde
Lead guitar: Lord Superior
Drums: Clarence Curvan
Trumpet: “Sarge” Phillips
Best ever calypso back-up chorus of all time:
March of Dimes Quartet featuring: Nap Hepburn, Conrad “Laddie” Prescott, Marjorie Johnson and Allan Haynes.
Coming off the bench: George’s Trio, Regeneration Now and Trade winds
First ever calypso instrumental recording was done in 1912 by Lovey’s orchestra.
First ever vocal calypso recording was made in 1914 when the “Duke of Iron” teamed up with Jules Sims.
First ever calypso tent opened in Port-of-Spain in 1921 was the “Railway Douglas Tent”.
First ever female to sing in a calypso tent was “Lady Trinidad” in 1935.
First ever female calypsonian to cut a record was “Lady Trinidad” in 1937.
First ever “Young Brigade Tent” opened in 1947 by 24 year-old Lord kitchener, featuring Lord Melody, Mighty Spoiler, Mighty Viking.
Best ever calypso arranger: Bertram Inniss
Coming off the bench: Frankie Francis, Art De Coteau, Pelham Goddard, Earl Rodney, Clive Bradley and Original De Fosto Himself
Best ever calypso producers: Leston Paul, Rawlston Charles, Straker Granville.
Best ever musical graduates of all time from T&T’s University College (as in Belmont and Tacarigua orphanages) include Roy Cape, Errol Ince, Original De Fosto Himself, Anthony Prospect, Trinidad Rio, Joshua Alexander, John Alexander, Frankie Francis, Pedro Lezama.
Best ever calypso ballads of all time: “Susan” by Composer and “Sandra” by Sparrow.
Worst ever off-key calypsonians: Gypsy and Penguin.
Worst ever off-timing calypsonian of all time: Fluke.
Worst ever off-key female calypsonian of all time: Twiggy.
Shortest calypsonian of all time: Cro Cro.
Tallest calypsonian of all time: Ras Shorty I.
Best ever first-timers in calypso of all time: Cravet’s “Janice”, Chris Garcia’s “Chutney Bacchanal” and Slammer’s “March Monkey.”
First ever change key in a calypso: “Elaine, Harry and Mamma” by Sparrow.
Best ever fastest delivery of a calypso: “Iron Man” by Quibby.
Best ever sweetest voices in calypso of all time: Blakie, Nap Hepburn, Superior, Organizer and Ras Shiortie I.
Coming off the bench: Kenny J.
Best ever calypso re Caribbean unity of all time: “Caribbean Man” by Stalin.
Best ever calypso re vendors of all time: “Peddlers” by Melody.
Best ever flagman of all time: Arthur Tramcar.
In 1952, the Carnival Development Committee (CDC) instituted the Road March competition.
In 1953, the CDC instituted the Calypso King competition whereby contestants sang only one calypso; however, from 1958, they had to sing two calypsoes.
Best ever robbed Dimanche Gras calypso finalist: Lord Baker (1967).
Best ever unworthy calypso monarch: Cypher (1967).
Best ever dejected calypsonian re judging at Dimanche Gras final: Nap Hepburn.
Worst ever performances at a Dimanche Gras final: Bally’s “Amigo” and All Rounder’s “Dive” in 2010.
Best ever ethnically – mixed calypso monarch of all time: Dougla.
Best ever calypso at a Dimanche Gras final of all time: “Federation” by Sparrow.
Best ever and longest skit at a Dimanche Gras final: Denyse Plummer’s “Nah leaving”.
Best ever tie at a Dimanche Gras final: Luta and De Lamo (1990).
Most times a semi-finalist but never a finalist at Dimanche Gras: Axeback.
Most ever Dimanche Gras finalist of all time: Chalkdust.
Most ever recipient of calypso monarch title of all time: Sparrow.
Best ever longest reign as calypso monarch: Duke, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971.
Best ever Dimanche Gras MCs of all time: Mervyn Telfer, Allison Hennessey, Tommy Joseph, Phil Simmons, Dave Elcock, Wendell Constantine, Sprangalang, Sharon Pitt
Best ever Dimanche Gras/steel band announcers: Allison Hennessey, Josanne Leonard, Alvin Daniel, Dalton Narine.
Best ever calypso MCs: Bob Gittens, Sam Ghany, Cristo, Holly Betaudier.
Best ever radio/TV personalities of all time: Don Proudfoot, Bob Gittens, June Gonsalves, Frank Prado, Bobby Thomas, Ken Gordon, Russell Winston, Ed Fung, Trevor Mc Donald, Peter Minshall, Hazel Ward, Percy
Angeron, Larry Haywood and Jose Ramon-Fortune.
Best ever female radio MC of all time: Auntie Kay.
Best ever popular calypso of all time: “Education” by Sparrow
Coming off the bench: “Black man feeling to party” by Stalin, “Bass man” by Shadow, “Hot, hot, hot”, by Arrow
Best ever road march of all time: “Jean and Dinah” by Sparrow.
Best ever road march carnival music band of all time: Bertram Inniss’ “Sa sa yea” (1969).
Best ever love calypsoes of all time: “Rose’ by Sparrow, “Natty, Natty” by Roaring lion, “Mount Olga” by Kitchener and “Susan” by Composer.
Coming off the bench: “Theresa”, “Maria”, “Monica du du” by Sparrow and “Maria” by Blakie.
Best ever calypso to dance to of all time: “Meh lover” by Nelson.
Best ever drunken calypsonians: Jaguar, Spolier, Cristo, Dougla.
Best ever humorous calypsonians of all time: Spoiler, Funny and Cypher.
Best ever humorous calypsoes of all time: “Magistrate try himself” by Spoiler, “Farmer Brown” by Funny and “Hey Joe” by Cypher.
Best ever lying calypsoes of all time: “Dat is Lie” by Nelson and “Lying Excuses” by Sparrow.
Best ever handsomest calypsonians of all time: Brigo and Stalin… faces only a mother can love.
Best ever wanna-be calypsonian of all time: Gillian Lucky.
Best ever political calypseos of all time: “PAYE”, “Leave meh damn doctor”, “Federation” by Sparrow; “Sinking ship” by Gypsy; “Eric Williams dead” and “De driver cannot drive” by Chalkdust.
Best ever philosophical calypsoes of all time: “Who will guard de guards” and “Progress” by King Austin
“Dan is de man in de van”, “Old man and de donkey”, “Survival” by Sparrow, “Life is a stage” by Bro. Valentino, “Never ever worry” by Pretender, “Nature’s plan” Johnny King and “Black is beautiful” by Duke.
Best ever horn calypso of all time: “Yuh looking for horn” by Shadow.
Best ever ex tempo calypsonians of all time: Unknown, Pretender, Executor, Relator, Gypsy.
Coming off the bench: Lingo, Lady Africa, Black Sage.
Best ever female name in calypso of all time: Maria.
Coming off the bench: Rose, Audrey, Melda, Monica, Loraine, Margie.
Best ever female calypsonian of all time: Rose.
Coming off the bench: Lady Trinidad, Singing Sandra, Denyse Plummer, Singing Francine.
Best ever “matured” entertainer: Machel Montano.
Best ever improved calypsonian of all time: Karene Asche.
Best ever Africa conscious calypsonian of all time: Ella Andall.
Best ever insult at a calypso fiesta show: Denyse Plummer…nough said.
Best ever dressed calypsonians of all time: Spitfire, Terror, Duke.
Best ever dance/theatre personality of all time: Beryl Mc Burnie.
Best ever choreographer of all time: Aubrey Adams.
Best ever calypsoes re criminals of all time: “Hang man’s cemetery”, “Gun slingers”, “Royal jail” by Sparrow and “Run de gunslingers” by Caruso.
Best ever calypsonian/R&B singer: Sparrow.
Best ever R&B singing group of all time: March of Dimes Quartet.
Coming off trhe bench: George’s Trio and Sparks.
Best ever calypsonian to sing in a foreign language: Sparrow.
Best ever calypsoes re New York: “Sparrow come back home”, “Wabeen & Grogg” and “Labour day in Brooklyn” by Sparrow; “Mass in Madison Square Garden” by Kitchener and “Loraine” by Explainer.
Best ever internationally known calypsoes of all time: “Rum and coca cola” by Andrew Sisters (1944) and “Hot, hot, hot” by Arrow.
Best ever teacher calypsonians of all time: Chalkdust and Luta.
Coming off the bench: “Short pants” and Penguin.
Best ever Christmas calypsoes of all time: “Tell Santa Claus” by Nap Hepburn, “Church Bells are Ringing” by Melody and “Around My Christmas Tree” by Lennox Gray.
Best ever Asian Christmas calypso of all time: “Chinee
Parang” by Paramininos.
Best ever poem/calypso of all time: “Ten to One is Murder” by Sparrow.
Best ever calypso composer/writer of all time: Reginald “Piggy” Joseph.
Coming off the bench: Winston “Joker” De Vines, Christopher Grant, Pat Castagne, Alvin Daniel, Rocky Mc Collin
Best ever sour-grape/ pissed-off calypsonians re calypso fiesta exclusion: Devon Seales and “Bodyguard”.
Best ever calypso re daily life in T&T of all time: “Old lady walk ah mile and ah half and she tay-lay-lay” by Kicthener.
Best ever calypso against Euro-British colonialism of all time: “London Bridge” by Sparrow.
Best ever calypso against Euro-American imperialism of all time: “We want back Chaguaramas” by Nap Hepburn.
Best ever calypsoes on cricket: “Victory test match” by Beginner and “Cricket champions” by Kitchener.
Best calypso on race relations: “If you’re not Black, White” by Kitchener.
Best ever patriotic calypsoes of all time: “Portrait of Trinidad” by Sniper, “Model Nation” by Sparrow, “God bless our nation” by Baker and “Trini to de bone” by David Rudder.
Best ever foreign-oriented calypsoes of all time: “Haiti” by David Rudder and “Message to New Orleans” by Bro. Mudada.
Best ever familial calypsoes of all time: “Boo boo man” and “Shame and scandal in de family” by Melody.
Best ever uplifting-conscious calypsoes of all time: “High Mas” by David Rudder and “Missing generation” by Ella Andall.
Best ever religion-oriented calypso of all time: “Soca Baptists” by Superblue.
Best ever picong calypsoes re female (wife) of all time: “Madam Dracula” by Sparrow versus “Belmont Jackass” by Melody.
Best ever calypsoes re visitors to T&T of all time: “Ms. Tourist” by Kitchener and “Stranger” by Shadow.
Best ever calypsoes re Africa of all time: “Dey ent see Africa yet” by Chalkdust, “Bun Dem” by Stalin, “How many more must die” by Duke, ” Shaka, shaka” by Bally, “Ganges & the Nile” by David Rudder, “Birth of Ghana” by Kitchener, ” Stay up Zimbabwe” by Bro. Valentino.
Best ever Shango calypso: “Bongo man” by Wrangler.
Best ever obeah-oriented marriage calypsoes of all time: “Obeah wedding”/”Melda” by Sparrow and “Marriage recipe” by Nap Hepburn.
Best ever Orisha/African conscious songs of all time: “Sango”, “Bring down the power”, “Song for the people”, “Rhythm of the people” and “Alado ye” by Ella Andall.
Best ever innovative calypsonian of all time: Lord Shortie’s “Endless Vibrations” 1971 LP that invented soca music.
Best ever trend-setting calypsonian of all time: Super Blue’s “Get something and wave.”
Best ever places for carnival fetes of all time: SWWTU, Guardian sports club, Palms Club, Paragon club, Naparima bowl, Civil Service Association (CSA) hall.
Best ever price for a carnival fete of all time: TT$1.50 to dance to Pal Joey Lewis
Best ever night club and bar owners of all time: Jazzy Pantin, Andrew Boyce, Gonzales.
Best ever “Holes in the Wall” of all time: Park street.
Best ever night clubs of all time: Pepper pot, Mirama, Bombay.
Best ever rum shops/clubs of all time: Black Cat, La India, Paragon, Keynote, Dock workers, Golden Glove, Victoria, Maple Leaf, Broadway, Green Coconut, Yeates, Vasco Da Gama, Shamrock, Hunters and
Best ever restaurant/bar of all time: China Clipper.
Best ever bartenders of all time: Norton Ince (La India), Clyde Darbeau (Paragon club) and “Speedy”
Best ever fry chicken in T&T of all time: Honey Comb Fry Chicken.
Best ever bread/bake and shark maker in T&T of all time: Leo’s Grill (Belmont).
Best ever bread/bake and salt fish maker in T&T of all time: Elva in Green Coconut bar.
Best ever roti makers in T&T of all time: Sankar roti shop in Belmont and Roxy theatre roti shop.
Best ever protection against STDs and AIDS: Durex.
Coming off the bench: Condom.
Best ever price of all time for “making fares”: TT0.25 cents.
Coming off the bench: US$3,000 for a “Blondie”.
Best ever price of all time for a carib beer: Four (4) carib beers for $1:00.
Best ever price of all time for travelling: TT 0.10 cents from Belmont to Port-of-Spain and TT 0.6 cents in 1944
Best ever peanuts seller of all time: “Mile ah minute”.
Best ever bread makers of all time: Norville’s bakery (Belmont), Crown Bakery and M.I. Bakery.
Best ever ballroom bands of all time: Ray Sylvester and Sel Duncan.
Best ever reggae calypsoes of all time: “Ras Mas” and “Rasta chick” by Explainer.
Best ever dance bands of all time Pal Joey Lewis, Clarence Curvan, Dutchy Brothers, Choy Amin.
Coming off the bench: Andre Tanker, Cito Fermin, Ancil Wyatt, John “Buddy” Williams, Fitz Vaughn Bryan, Tom and Desmond Durham, and Norman “Tex” Williams.
Best ever comedian of all time: John Agitation-”Ton-neh”
Coming off the bench: Paul Keenes Douglas, Tommy Joseph, Sprangalang, Larrie Joseph, Rachel “Slackness” Price.
Best ever song of all time to dance to: “Tonight” by Clarence Curvan and his orchestra, featuring Roy Cape on alto sax.
Best ever “Band of the Year” of all time: George Bailey’s “Back to Africa” (1957), “Relics of Egypt” (1959) and “Ye Saga of Merrie England” (1960). Harold “Sally” Saldenah’s ” Imperial Rome 44B.C, -96 A.D.”, “Norse Gods and Vikings” (1956 ) and “El Dorado, City of Gold” (1968).
First leader to create sections in a carnival band: Harold “Sally” Saldenah.
First leader to introduce metal work, that is, copper breast plates in a band: Harold “Sally” Saldenah (1955).
Best ever carnival band leaders of all time: George Bailey, Harold “Sally” Saldenah, Stephen Lee Hung, Edmond Hart, Ivan Mc Williams.
Coming off the bench: Peter Minshall, Brian Mac Farlane, Ian “Big Mike” Mc Kenzie.
Best ever largest carnival band of all time: “Viva Zapata”, Dem Boys, Belmont (1952).
Best ever fancy sailor carnival band of all time: Dem Fortunates ( Belmont).
Best ever carnival mass characters of all time : Edgar Wiley and Srasser.
Best ever small band leader of all time: Churchill “Babba” George.
Best ever Kings of Carnival of all time: Terry Evelyn, Noble Khan.
Coming off the bench: Peter Samuel, Geraldo Vieira, Sr., Curtis Eustace.
Best ever sailor band leader of all time: Jason Griffith.
Best ever copper-bending band leader of all time: Ken Morris.
Best ever rum drinking groups of all time : “Amergurvians” led by Anthony Sylvester “Syl” Bartolomew and “Oaksville” led by Ralph “Big Head” Hoyte and “Lolly”.
Best ever sentimental calypso of all time: “Memories” by Sparrow.
Best ever smut calypso of all time : “Bang, bang Lu Lu” by Sparrow.
Best ever Queen of Carnival of all time : Rosemarie Kuru- Jagessar.
Greatest calypsonian and the grand father of calypso of all time and forever: Sparrow.
In the final analysis, long live T&T’s calypso art form – Thanks, ladies and gentle men in the profession.
Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”).
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.