Pan scientist, icon and holder of the nation’s highest award (Order of the Republic,) Anthony Williams of Pan Am North Stars fame, will be celebrating his 81st birthday on Sunday at the St James Amphitheatre, Western Main Road, St James at 6 pm. Care-giver, the tireless Judy Arthur is organising the event, which is attracting much attention, local and international. The celebrations will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the nation, and the 50th anniversary of his famous triumph with the Pan Am North Stars winning the 1962 Steelband Music Festival. The finals were held at the Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain, and saw the rampaging North Stars delivering a memorable performance of Johann Strauss’ Voices of Spring. In the audience were the chief architect of our Independence, Dr Eric Williams and Governor General, Sir Solomon Hochoy.
The North Stars repeated the feat in 1966, when they turned back the challenge of the Sanbach City Syncopators, bombing them with Von Suppe’s Poets and Peasants, and the test piece, Anthony Prospect’s Intermezzo in E Flat. Before, the band had snatched the National Panoramas of 1962 and 1963. North Stars panmen speak proudly of the band, and their association with the man Anthony Williams, whom they have described as a “perfectionist and hard taskmaster.” A pannist, composer, arranger and innovator, Williams, also called “Muff Man,” has been associated with a number of firsts—pan on wheels, the spiderweb pan and the fourths and fifths tenors. His achievements could fill a newspaper. At Sunday’s celebration, Williams will honour five pannists, composers and arrangers—Robbie Greenidge, Ray Holman, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Pelham “PG” Goddard and Earl “Loveman” Brooks. WITCO Desperadoes, St James Tripolians, St James North Stars and Scrunters Pan Groove will be in the house.
Pan Buzz extends happy birthday greetings.
‘Boogsie’ loses his ‘right hand’
Today the Pan Buzz is sad. Two pan soldiers have fallen in quick succession, Franklyn Ollivierra, and Eddie “Guna Yearwood. Popularly called “Franklyn,” the former Petrotrin Phase two Pan Groove standout (tenor pan player), is a long-standing member of the band and “right hand” of Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Pan, pigeons and football were his passions. He is among the record holders for the most Panorama appearances. Affable and down-to-earth, Franklyn shot to fame with Bertie Marshall’s Highlanders Steel Orchestra, later known as Forsyth Highlanders, and was a player of Bertie’s “Chinee pan”—the first known experiment in the amplification of the tenor pan. Proud of his Laventille roots, Franklyn was an outstanding footballer with Malvern, and played in the Mervina Minor League with Amateurs, Glory Guys, Jacksonville, and four other teams. One of his proud moments was when he co-wrote the song Magic Drums. He was the first manager of the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO), and worked as a cultural officer with the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturism.
Flamboyant Eddie was versatile
Eddie “Guna” Yearwood pioneered the idea of a pan programme of the radio. A visionary, Eddie was host of “The Guna Hour” on NBS Radio 610. He was also a founding member of the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (Tuco). Eddie was as popular as a bake and shark, and was versatile and flamboyant. His mode of dress always stood out, plus his manner of walking (swing) blended well with his personality. He wore several hats—emcee, calypsonian, panman, pan analyst and radio host. However, pan was his love, having moved through a slew of bands, Esso Tripoli, Starlift, Third World and Phase Two Pan Groove. He was at home with his radio programme, Magic of Pan on 91.9FM, and made it into an informative, chatty forum. Eddie was also the founder of Pan Lovers International which attracted some of the heavyweights of pan but ended in disarray. His contribution to pan and calypso has been outstanding.