Steelpan Tuner
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Leo Coker

Leo Coker

born April 1, 1942 -
died November 5, 2003

Leo Coker - Master Craftsman - Steelpan Tuner
Leo Coker - Portrait of A Panman

Leo Coker was one of the finest tuners ever.
republished from the Terry Joseph archives

By Terry Joseph

November 6, 2003

The name Leo Coker, for decades standard imprint on several banners at the annual Steelband Panorama competition, will appear no more, as the celebrated pan tuner passed away yesterday morning.

Coker, 61, died at 4.30 am yesterday at his Erin home from complications arising from a diabetic condition with which he lived for several years and for which he was twice hospitalised recently.

Among the steelbands for which he tuned instruments was Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, Exodus, Tropical Angel Harps and Tokyo.

"He was among the most humble and dependable of persons supplying services to our band," Exodus manager Ainsworth Mohammed said. "He would make appointments for up to three years in advance for tuning or blending instruments for Panorama and you really never had to double-check.

"Leo would be there from as early as 5.30 a.m. on the appointed day, working non-stop, taking a break only for the lunch that was prepared by his wife and brought in his little bag. He was a gentleman and a leading light among his peers and we at Exodus will miss him a great deal," Mohammed said.

By his own admission, Coker was inspired to learn pan tuning after watching the work of James Jackman, who was among the team that produced instruments for the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.

Former Pan Trinbago president and current manager of Solo Pan Knights, Owen Serrette said: "To merely say Leo Coker was an extraordinary tuner is to devalue his total contribution to our band, with which he has worked from inception. He was also advisor to and a friend of Solo Pan Knights.

"I had been in touch with the family through his illness and recent bouts of hospitalisation, still, when his son called to say he passed on it brought a level of sadness that no one could really plan for, as he was the kind of man you really didn't want to see die any more than you could bear his suffering in the late stages of his condition.

"I know I speak for the entire band and our arranger, Robert Greenidge when I say we will miss Coker, not just for Carnival but for the relationship he built up with us, his flawless punctuality and dependability and the gentlemanly examples he left with particularly the younger members of Solo Pan Knights. We would like to offer our condolences to his wife and family," Serrette said.

Coker's daughter Carlene told The Express the funeral service will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Buenos Ayres RC Church. Apart from Carlene, Coker leaves to mourn his wife Monica and son Keston.

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