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Norman Darway Speaks on the History of Steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago

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Red Army Band was Trouble Staff Article
Interview Recorded: February 23, 2005
Posted: March 01, 2005

Now Red Army was a troublesome band in Port of Spain, they fight almost anybody, any whey dey is, dey fight, an' Red Army was de first steelband to leave these shores to go to Guyana. That time it was British Guyana. In 1946 on Old Years night after the islandwide competition, they hold five ah dem for fighting in Guyana. They lock up five ah dem. The magistrate charge them fifty dollars a piece, an' two weeks after they hold some ah dem again trying to beat a police, an' de magistrate tell them, 'if all yah wasn't visitors in this country ah dah send all yah straight to jail, the first boat that going out ah dis country to Trinidad, jump on it because all ya going to sure going to jail next time'. So dey had to end up coming outa Guyana.

They were fighters all about de place, an' when Chalkdusk talk about Gold Teeth, Chalkdust didn't know Stanley Hunte. Stanley Hunte (dey call him 'Bone Head' because he had a big head), was looked at as ah leader in de band when they were under de name of "Oval Boys". He beat Gold Teeth like a child, and he was older than Gold teeth by far. Stanley Hunte was a great fist fighter in de steelband world. I had a foreman was working at Trestrail and his hand was like dat. (Darway showed the form of the guy's hand), ah say, but wait nah, how 'Alec' [Alexander] hand so, like it get damage, he say no, Stanley Hunte beat him, beating some people in ah club dey, (because 'Alec' did like badjohn business), an' when Stanley done open licks, 'Alec' had to throw heself through ah window in de club an' he break he hand. Stanley was a great fighter. We had great fighters in de West like Rupert Moore an' these fellas, Mother B. an' all ah dem was great fist fighters. Chalkdusk sing stupidness he didn't know 'bout.

This fella who we call Besson, who was the captain to "Five Graves to Cairo", the Thursday after carnival, he met Chalkdusk by Hue Board Place, an' he say to him, 'you sing ah lot ah stupidness and get a'way wit' it? When ya look at the National Museum, you see dat dey talk about ah fella who create de steelband. They say dat fella; he was beating his Kettle, an' in beating it, say dat is how de steelband started. Besson is de man whey really run him out of Port of Spain, an' Besson tell yah, he was ah bully. He had attack ah friend of his over ah pack ah card, (dey all use to live an' sleep at Hell Yard), and when Besson talk to him, he point ah razor down in Besson throat, an' Besson say well I had to beg meh way out, 'but ah know he had to come an' sleep so ah lie down dey waiting an' ah see he come an' then he walk back out an' he say he going an' eat, he say dat better because when yah eat yah want to sleep better, an' he come and he lie down an' he sleep, but I had ah cutlass under meh pillow, and time he start to sleep and he snore, ah drop two chop on him an' he start to bawl, an' ah jus get up, jump in de river an' I gone meh way an' dat was de end ah he, he went to South.


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