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

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Pan on Wheels Staff Article
Interview Recorded: February 23, 2005
Posted: March 01, 2005

When they formed this national band name Taspo, (Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra), they invite men to take part in it and most of the men they invite were pan tuners. One of the men dat they invite, which was Roy Harper, he was the captain of "North Stars". "North Stars" came out of "Sun Valley" because they had a little thing and they form "North Stars" in an Orisha yard in Bournes road, and they invite Roy Harper, who was born in Barbados, but grew up in St. James. He decide that he has his wife and children, he send Tony Williams. Tony went instead of Harper, but Tony wasn't designated to be the tuner for "Taspo" because "Taspo" already had about four tuners, and Ellie at dat time was de main tuner. So they didn't have Sonny Roach in "Taspo" at de time and is later on they get to realize that Sonny Roach use to send one of the members of his band to meet him, but de man never go, that was a fella call Addawell, Nooksin brother. So they thought Sonny Roach wasn't interested, and it was an evening dat Mr. Lennox Pierre saw him and call him, coming across Duke street, and ask him 'what happen?, like yah not interested', and people asking what is de reason how you not with de band and Sonny Roach tell him Addawell never got any reply, but he was in Siperia tuning in Siperia pan.

Eventually they invite him to Cocorite Youth Center where the band was practicing, to come. Now they had Granville Sealey, he was also selected for "Taspo". He was "Tripoli" tuner. But he had a problem with them an' rarely even though I used to be about them, I could only say what most people say that he talk about who going to take care of his wife and children and they find he was wrong in saying that and they decide to ask him and they ask him and brought in Sonny Roach. Well Tony Williams who was there, they wanted the chromatic scale on the pan, but they could not have gotten de chromatic scale on the bass, because what Jules create, was sounding more like ah thinning sheet, and they could'na get it and Tony Williams went home, take a fifty-five oil drum and tune it with one of de guys who was in the band, brother assist him, and he tune it and took it back down to the Youth Centre. When Mr. Griffith heard it, Mr. Griffith said this is what ah looking for, could you tune two more for me before this evening, because they were to give a concert so he said yes and this is how he becomes now a tuner of de pan and started to tune pans for de band, an' this is how his Cinderella story started. So, when he came back from "Taspo", because "Taspo" was a hit outside, and when he came back, he became the captain of "North Stars". Harper leave and went into "Tripoli", an' "In North Stars" he design the pan in the spider web fashion in 1953, and that is how he design dis styling of de spider web in order to get de fourth and fifth, well he give ah whole explanation of how he comes up with dat, I am not a tuner, but this is how he comes up with de fourth and fifth, an' in doing dat, is what they use today in de steelband.

In 1956 he wanted to use on the road, "Puerto Rico Mambo", a tune which Victor Sylvester composed. What he was looking for from that tune, the bass and them had to be in de air, so, he decide that they would have to put it on a stand with wheels, so he managed to get a friend to organize a stand for him and they put pram wheels on it and they went to town with de tune call 'Puerto Rico Mambo' and lick up de town in 1956, an' this is how wheels come on de bike, so for '57 you couldn't leave yah bike no way in St. James because "Crossfire" went to work on it and is in 1957 "Crossfire" went to town with a tune call 'Another Night Like This' and lick up town under Emon Tourpe as de captain, he was another beautiful tuner and arranger, an' de pans were sounding very good, they were a good dance band, an' that is "Crossfire." So is how, we have pans on de wheel, an' the fourth and fifth in the music.


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