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Based in the community of Laventille, Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra was originally known as the “Laventille Band.” The name changed in the 1940s to the “Dead End Kids.” Subsequently, three Laventille bands merged in the 1950s to form the Desperadoes. Over the last fifty-odd years the orchestra has established a record of achievement unsurpassed by any other, primarily under the astute leadership and guidance of the now-deceased Rudolph Charles. Today the band continues to thrill local and international audiences with their special brand of music. Desperadoes is equally at ease performing in all genres. Just listen to their scintillating interpretations of the most complex European Classical Music, Jazz, Soca, Reggae, Pop and Latin. Desperadoes is recognized internationally as the premier institution and a symbol of pure excellence in the world of steelband entertainment. The band has truly taken steelband music to the next level.
Desperadoes took their name from a movie of the same name. To date, the orchestra has been victorious in the Panorama competition in Trinidad and Tobago on eleven occasions. The first victory came in 1966. Successes followed in 1970, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2000 and 2016. The orchestra has also excelled at the music festivals held in Trinidad and Tobago, having won on three consecutive occasions after a hiatus of twenty years. Desperadoes has toured the Caribbean, Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America, performing at some of the most prestigious cultural centres globally including the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater in New York.
The band also performed at the Olympics in Atlanta, USA in 1996.
Desperadoes toured several countries on the African continent. Some
other nations visited include Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, St.
Lucia and Barbados. Acknowledged globally as one of the cultural
icons of the Caribbean, Desperadoes has performed in concert
with world-renowned tenor Luciano Parvarotti. The band, under the
astute leadership of Rudolph “The Hammer” Charles, invented and
introduced to the steelband movement chromed steelpans, aluminum
canopies, the Rocket Pan, the Quadro-Phonic Pan, the Baritone Pan,
the Chariot Pan, the Nine Basses and the Twelve Basses.
Major Awards: National Award - Chaconia Medal Gold Steelband of the Century (Pan Trinbago Award)
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Address: c/o Blondell Post Office,
Upper Laventille Road,
E.D.R., Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago, W.I.
Champion Years - Panorama - 1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2016
- Carlton “Zanda” Alexander - 2016
- Robert Greenidge - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1981
- Andre White - 2012
- Edison “Eddie” Quarless - 2006
- Clive Bradley - 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969, 1968
- Scipio “Sarge” Sargeant - 1967
- Beverley Griffith - 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1969, 1966, 1965, 1964, 1963
- Rudolph Charles: - Basses
- Wallace Austin: - Basses
- Lincoln Noel: - Tenor Basses, Guitars, Quadrophonics, Six-Pans; also Double Tenors and Double Seconds
- Bertie Marshall: - Tenors, Double Tenors, Double Seconds
- Clifford Alfred: - Basses (six, nine and twelve)
- Desmond “Mappo” Richardson: - Tenors, Double Tenors, Double Seconds.
- Emmanuel “Jack” Riley
- James “Bassman” Jackman
- Reynold “Tony Slater” Gillies
This Laventille (Rose Hill) band was formed in the early-1940s by a group of young men that included Wilfred “Talkative” Harrison, Ivan “Brains” Bourne, Reynald “Singco” John, Donald “Jit” Steadman, Carlton “Mimp” Francis, Brooks Banton, Wilfred “Be-eh” Pacheco, and George Yeates. The band was first called the “Dead End Kids” before its name was changed in the 1950s to Gay Desperadoes, after the 1936 American movie “The Gay Desperado” starring Ida Lupino.
In the late-1950s, before it made its impact musically, Desperadoes was involved in some of the most violent Carnival clashes with other steelbands: Tokyo; Renegades; and San Juan All Stars. However, by the early-1960s, the band's image began to change under the leadership of George Yeates who was successful in gaining the sponsorship of the Coca Cola Company. Around this period, Rudolph “Crabby” Charles left the small steelband “Spike Jones” to join Desperadoes and, by the mid-1960s, had become its leader and arranger. By then, the band had moved from its first location in lower Laventille Hill to the community center up the hill. In 1966, the sponsorship of the band changed from Coca Cola to the West Indian Tobacco Company.
Under Charles's leadership, help was recruited to improve the band with tuners Ellie Mannette, Vernon “Birdie” Mannette and Emmanuel “Jack” Riley from the Invaders Steelband, and musicians Beverly Griffith (Starland Steelband), Carl “Bumpy Nose” Greenidge (Kentuckians Steelband), Raymond “Artie” Shaw (Police Band), and Clive Bradley (Clarence Curvan Orchestra). Later, Robert Greenidge joined the list of musical arrangers who contributed to the band's success. Strongly supported by the Laventille community, Desperadoes had very impressive Carnival presentations from the mid-1950s through the 1960s: “Sands of Iwo Jima”; “Operation Korea”; “To Hell and Back”; “Glorious Spain”; “Crawl of the Crocodile”; “Prisoner of Zenda”; “Extracts from the Animal Kingdom”; “The Frozen North.”
Over the years, Desperadoes performed in concert abroad at the following venues: Royal Albert Hall (London, England); Carnegie Hall (New York, USA), with Liza Minelli and Skitch Henderson; the first Black Arts Festival (Senegal); Apollo Theatre (New York, USA); and Barbados, with Luciano Pavarotti. Following one of its visits to the USA in the 1970s, the band changed its name from “Gay Desperadoes” to “Desperadoes.” The band won the Panorama competition ten times, the Steelband Music Festival three times and, in 1992, received the Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold for its cultural contributions. Desperadoes finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:
|Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit|
Here’s a clip from Desperadoes’ title winning performance of 5Star Akil's "Different Me", which was arranged by Carlton ‘Zanda’ Alexander. They scored 285 points to take the title in the Large Conventional Bands Category of the competition. Supernovas were just one point behind on 284 points to take the runner up spot with “Breakthrough” arranged by Amrit Samaroo while Phase II Pan Groove and Renegades both scored 283 points to tie for third place. Don't Miss Out Follow C News on Instagram www.instagram.com/cnewslive and Twitter https://twitter.com/cnewslive . You can also watch more of our videos at https://www.facebook.com/cnewslive/videosPosted by C News Live on Sunday, February 7, 2016
2016 Panorama Performance