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           Date: 12.05.05


Clive Bradley’s
Final Passage and Journey
but His Music Played On...

 

Trinidad - On Friday December 2, just later over an hour before the scheduled 10:00 AM celebration of his life, Clive Bradley lay in state at the Desperadoes pan theater in Laventille, before he left ‘The Hill’ for the last time.  The backdrop of the blue sea in the distance, made brilliant by the morning sun, framed the scene for this equally brilliant individual, as villagers and others came to pay their final respects.

The police outriders assigned to escort the cortege stood by until the time came to leave.  The hearse bearing Clive Bradley on his final journey down the hill departed, preceded and  flanked by the official police escort, for a drive that would take just around fifteen minutes to arrive at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Independence Square in Port-of-Spain.

From quite early in the morning, ‘No Parking’ signs had been set out on the immediate streets surrounding the cathedral where the service was to be held.  Anyone making the journey into the city would have noted unusual police activity as arrangements were put in place to accommodate the customary traffic flow in the general area, in addition to that generated by the mammoth crowd expected to say goodbye to Master Clive Bradley.

The cathedral was crowded, most seats taken, and additionally many people stood in the back.  Still others had to be content with remaining in the courtyard as the service proceeded.  Tributes were paid to Bradley by several in attendance, including his children, Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold, other officials, and musically by Robert Greenidge, friend and fellow arranger of Bradley, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe - also fellow arranger, himself revered by many steelpan music enthusiasts, Earl Brooks and Roger Greenidge, and of course, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, the players whose musical relationship began with Bradley almost forty years ago in 1968.  As they delivered one of their own tributes, the band’s rendition of their Bradley-arranged Ordinary People was somber, almost melancholy and in sharp contrast to the exuberant performance they gave and which won them the Pan In The 21st Century competition earlier this year.  At the end of the service around 11:50 AM, Desperadoes closed with When Will I See You Again.

 

The crowd left the cathedral after the final blessing; by this time there were also throngs of people on the sidewalks and spilling over onto the Brian Lara Promenade which runs the length of Independence Square.

 

 

 

 They included those who were in the church, those who had not been able to fit in the church, and curious bystanders who looked on.  Just about everyone ‘of note’ connected to the steelpan artform, Trinbagonian culture, friends, and family - who could attend - was visible at one point or another.  Greetings were exchanged among many who had not seen each other for some period of time.

Bradley was once more officially escorted for the last time to his final resting place in the cemetery in St. John’s RC Church cemetery, Cemetery Street in Diego Martin, Trinidad.  Valley Harps Steel Orchestra was on hand, and musically sent Clive Bradley off.  So too did Desperadoes.

The morning had been sunny and dry, but the rain was present now, and as the final wreaths and tributes were placed on his grave, and Desperadoes played Bradley’s arrangement of Party Tonight, it changed from a drizzle to a downpour.  One of the women cried "Oh God, Bradley, yuh don’t want to go; yuh crying [raining], but yuh have to go!"  While that may have been possible, it was equally true of many who stood around Bradley for the last time.  They were crying, and they did not want him to let him go.

Some stood in the rain under umbrellas at the graveside.  Others were just over the wall, next to Bradley’s grave, where Desperadoes players and their instruments without canopy or any form of cover, were playing with a type of determined vengeance, as if daring anyone to forget the great Clive Bradley. 

 

The rain got heavier, and everyone was drenched to the skin.  But the band played on, as people - equally wet - danced and celebrated to the music of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra yet again, with many of the phenomenal arrangements of the master, but now in his presence, for the final time.

C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.
2005 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved


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