Nantambu’s “Old Time Days” List

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

Mighty SparrowFor 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
Tiger Cat.

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”
(CSA).

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.

19 Responses to “Nantambu’s “Old Time Days” List”


  • Missing from your list #1 Bill Trotman #2 Sel Duncan
    and last but not least The greatest Ole Mas band of Trinidad
    and Tobago winning the competion for ten years “MERRY DARCEUILS”
    from Darceuil Lane in Belmont Under yours truly To name a few
    portrayals LET MY PEOPLE GO( The Inroduction of MUD in OLE MAS}
    NON SHALL ESCAPE THE WEEDING just to name a few. This will add
    closure to some great research
    CAB

  • Come on doctor, our country is in a very critical state and, in the absence of any real, progressive leaders on the horizon, looks for some guidance from leaned folks like yourself for some guidance, but what do we get? More distraction.

  • How about: FITZ COLEMAN, FREDY HARRIS & POSTMAN?

  • Admirable, inspirational even!
    Many questions but one really stands out, Re the Lead Guitarist, was Lord Superior really ahead of Fitzroy Coleman??

  • Yes Andrew, for without Superior, black folks and kaiso/soca would have no presence on yourT&T / Euro /Asian radio stations.Unless you are under 15 , you would remember that the only time our pro Afrocentric ,national music, was ever played on our two radio station airwaves ,was around Carnival time.
    Thanks Doc , I take back my negative questioning of your bringing up the subject. There is an obvious void in knowledge for many delusional brainwashed Trinis.

    • “Come on doctor, our country is in a very critical state and, in the absence of any real, progressive leaders on the horizon, looks for some guidance from leaned folks like yourself for some guidance, but what do we get? More distraction.”

      You are indeed correct Neal when you mention the mess of the country and “the absence of any real, progressive leaders on the horizon.”

      The persons mentiond are some of our musical heroes: you dare to call it “More distraction.” How unkind.

      If someone from the other side did no get the accolade they thought they deserved the whole world would know it (check out one of the Order of Trinity’s comments).

  • Pelham Goddard, was not playing when Bertram Inniss was alive. I doubt they aver did any studio work together.

    Bertram Inniss died on Christmas day 1967 so there is no way he could have been on the road playing Sa Sa Yea in 1969.

    I think whoever put this stuff together didn’t do their home work well.

  • Good one. The musicians mentioned and their works were part of my exixtence here on earth, and they do evoke pleasant memories.

    I have always wondered when some one would identify the many nameless musicians who accompanied calypsonians.

    By the way I think Dorothy beats Maria into 2nd place.

    May I be so bold as to mention that the best guitar accompanyment on a calypso recording could be heard on Sparrow’s ‘No Money, No Love.’

    Thanks for a great job.

    Herbert Garvin

  • My apologies cousin H Garvin , you just hit me for six with that quite valid point.
    You might have noticed I did a recheck of my self and gave the Doctor some richly deserved Luv re the article.
    Our intellectual heroes are fighting an uphill battle, with the barrage of non objective , power hungry ,propagandist that lurks on cyberspace.
    We definitely need to promote all our nation building heroes- irrespective of their fields of endeavors- especially so that future generations ,can know that those that came before made useful contributions towards this blessed country’s overall development.
    Continue to ‘keep dem honest,’ my friend, and thanks for the chiding.
    Regards.

  • Rex Wes should be in this list.

  • This is an excellent piece, But i think that Ron Berridge should be among the big bands.

  • If my memory serves me right, i believe that Commander(Mr. Action) had a calypso by the name of Lizard and Crapaud which to my mind is relevant up to this day.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQcSHlX1VaA&feature=related

    Keep all dem characters , just play me Hollis Liverpool from Sunday to Sunday, then send all our talking head , intellectuals and so called experts ,to the firing squad, no revisionism here. This is the real deal, Change you say, your call Madame Kamla.

  • this is a lot of crap…uninformed generally.
    ian mckenzie and big mike are 2 different people!!

  • We may not all agree with Kwame’s selections but it is a beginning and I commend him for his initiative in putting this list together. Let us view him as the catalyst in this matter. Cheers.
    We should not critisise but should assist in improving the List, by submitting our ideas our observations and our recommended amendments to Kwame for his consideration.
    Most of the information herein apparently originated from persons from up North. We require some inputs from San Juan,Tunapuna, Arima and the East and from Chaguanas, Couva , San Fernando,Pt Fortin and the South. e.g. Who was/is The best Roti Makers? How, where and when did “Doubles” originate? (Doubles and Roti are now sold all over the World where there is a large population of West Indian people)
    In the Mas : The best Kings and Queens of Carnival, The best Bandleaders from South.
    and in Steelband : What were the best Southern Steelbands: Southern All Stars, Southern Marines, Hatters , Cavaliers ?.
    Who is Theo Stephens, the Bonaparte Brothers, Bobby Mohammed etc.etc. Kwame was possibly not born or was a toddler when these Steelbands existed. He requires your input not your criticism.
    Submit your recommendations NOW for possible inclusion in the List.
    Keep up the good work Kwame. The Lamb from Belmont.

  • Please permit me Kwame for using your space, but seeing that it is being read I want to pose these questions for your readers.

    So we say that Trinidad is the Land of Calypso and of Steelband

    Are we short of Calypso and Steelband music ?
    Why then was so much Jamaican Music being played by the DJs during an Internationally televised event as the Under 17 Ladies
    World Cup of Football to the exclusion of Calypso and Steelband Music ???

    So we say that our Carnival is “The Greatest Show on Earth” but is it ?

    Why then are Carnival Costumes being imported from China and from other Countries by some Bandleaders ???
    FUNNY EH !!!

    Where is our National Pride ???
    The Lamb from Belmont

  • What about steelbands like Satisfiers, Amboys and City Kids from Belmont. What about football clubs like Dynamoes, Malvern and Colts from Belmont.
    Forever a Belmont girl.

  • courtney charlo charles

    what about AUDRA PREDDIE ON PAN one of the best tenor pan player in trinidad from trinidad all stars

  • Without suggesting any alterations to your personal selections, I wish to thank you for the interesting post. As lists go, I rate it the “Best Ever”.

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