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The History of Steelband in Trinidad and Tobago

George Goddard's Spirit Lives On

October 22, 2000
By Kim Johnson

George Goddard
George Goddard
I first saw pan during Carnival 1939. That was the Alexander Ragtime Band led by Freddie Maroon and their panyard was located at the corner of Woodford Street and Tragarete Road in Port of Spain.

My mother, Miriam, died in October 1939 and I observed the required six months of mourning so I didn't get involved in pan again until Carnival 1940.

However in 1941, Newtown Boys' Calvary Tamboo Bamboo band was formed for the youths in the area since they couldn't get involved with the older men from ragtime.

I played along with Victor 'Toty' Wilson, Esteen 'Police' Small, Paychee, Roy 'Buddy' Coleston, Charlie Chan, John 'Basawan' Cummings and band director Carlton 'Humbugger' Forde.

I remember playing sailor mas with Alexander Ragtime Band and feeling like a man because I was wearing long pants. But in 1942, Carnival was banned because of World War 11.

Still, on the day that should have been Carnival Monday that year, over 100 pan men and woman were arrested and jailed for 21 days with hard labour for forming a procession without Police permission.

That same year, at Christmas time, several persons were arrested and fined $10 for having steelbands parading through the streets of Port of Spain.

It was not until the Allied Victory over Germany in 1945 that steelbands were allowed to parade the streets in celebration.

By the time, I was well entrenched in the Alexander Ragtime Band, playing from ping-pong to bass and earning a living as a sign painter.

I remember printing Russian symbols in red and white on the pans of ragtime, for VE-day. There was a major misunderstanding, the band split up and Red army was founded.

During the war days, although there was no Carnival at Ragtime Panyard, we played pan every evening for stick fighters until the owner of the yard decided he didn't want any steelband on his property.

However, after the war in 1946, Invaders created such an impression on the youths with their improved music, I insisted that a Newtown band must come in rivaly.

By the time, steelbands had replaced the tamboo-bamboo gradually. These bands adopted names fommotion pictures like Bar 20, Kokyo, Red Army, Rising Sun, Five days to Cairo and Crossfire, to name a few.

For the first Carnival after the war, we followed the trend of the day and played 'CB'(Count Basie) on Monday and "Construction Battalion' on Tuesday. As unofficial leader I was nicknamed 'John Wayne'.

In 1949, Invaders was the talk of the town and I joined forces and played P for several years as taboo bamboo foul, cutters and boom were replaced by the ping-pong, voodoo and biscuit drum bass.

The bottle and Spoon was replaced by the motor-car iron hub. Between 1941 and 1951, the peak period of band warfare, the Portuguese member of parliament, Albert Gomes, proved to be Pan greatest champion.

Interview done with Goddard before he died

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