“Clive Bradley - Just Remember the Music”

by Angela Howard - A When Steel Talks Special

Clive Bradley

Clive Bradley

New York - In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote of the Roman warrior “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”  So let it not be with Clive Bradley.   I implore us all to remember the music that Bradley provided for us, the lion’s share of which was played on the pan.

Clive Bradley was renowned in the pan community for his arrangements for the likes of Pandemonium  and Nutones, but he is mostly associated with the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.   Somehow Bradley was able to capture musically the pulse of the people of Laventille Hill and communicate the essence of the people to the audience.  The audiences were invariably moved, as evidently were the judges.

Bradley also had a huge presence on the New York Panorama scene; over the years arranging for Metro Steel Orchestra, Pantonic Steel Orchestra, and D’Radoes Steel Orchestra.  He had an obvious soft spot for the Pantonic Steel Orchestra, many of whom he had seen grow up in pan from childhood to adulthood.

Bradley’s Panorama arrangements endured over decades.  From Margie to Picture on My Wall; from Dingolay to Action the arranger always had something new to bring on the scene.   Indeed, after a long hiatus after his win with Rebecca (one can best describe these as the Jit and Boogsie years), Bradley showed up in Arima to bring Nutones to the forefront with a gripping arrangement of David Rudder’s High Mas.

Teacher, musician, arranger.  Bradley brought to the forefront not only his understanding of music, but of the people and the culture of Trinidad.  He displayed this understanding in 2004 when he conjured up spine chilling  images of Obeah in his arrangement of Shadow’s Whap Cocoyea for Witco Desperadoes.  He then went on to arrange the same tune for D’Radoes in New York, and made it a totally different song – more in line with the urban environment in which it was to be played.

In his recent interviews with Basement Recordings during the 2005 Panorama season Bradley indicated that he had been doing this since 1968, and that he had had enough.  In a statement that is almost eerie in its prescience, he said that the only thing that he was planning to do in 2006 was nothing.

Trinidad is lucky.  Their musical geniuses walk the earth.   These same men give their best to the instrument most identified with T&T.  In addition, these brilliant minds are accessible.  People can say that they remember conversations with them.   People old and young have anecdotes to share about their encounters with Bradley.  In this time when our legends are typically images on a television screen this is a rare and precious gift which we should not take for granted.

It is customary to offer condolences to the family of the deceased.  I wholeheartedly do this, but Bradley’s family extends to the entire pan community. Clive Bradley was a celebration of a spirit of music within an entire people.  He will be sorely missed.


Angela Howard has performed with D'Radoes, NY Nutones and Pan Rebels steel orchestras.  Additionally, Angela is a periodic contributor to When Steel Talks. 


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