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Veteran panman felled by stroke
Franklyn Ollivierra, a well known figure in the steelband movement, died on Wednesday evening, after suffering a stroke on June 11. Born in Laventille, Ollivierra was a tenor pan player and the public relations officer of the Woodbrook-based Phase II Pan Groove. He was 65. He began playing pan in 1962 in Laventille before moving on to Starlift in 1971. In 1993, he began his career with Phase II Pan Groove and toured internationally with the group.
His son Marlon Ollivierra said his father, who lived in Diego Martin, will be sorely missed by all, including his wife Hyacinth and four sons. Marlon said he remembered his father as a good friend and a great father. He said his father was well known as a lover of Trinidadian culture, footballer and avid pigeon fancier (racer). “He still holds records for pigeon-racing. Everybody in the pan world knew him. He was a great, great friend,” he said.
Ollivierra was also instrumental in the setting up of Pan Land, the first local company to manufacture pans, on St Joseph Road, he said. An emotionally overcome Len “Boogsie” Sharpe could only say that Ollivierra was his best friend. He could not comment further, as he wept while being interviewed on the phone by the T&T Guardian.
Errol Skerritt, manager of Phase II, said the panman would be sorely missed. Skerritt said Ollivierra had just performed with the band last Saturday at We Beat in St James and his untimely passing had come as a shock to everyone. He described Ollivierra as a major influence in the early days of the steelband movement.
Secretary of Pan Trinbago Richard Forteau said he remembered Ollivierra playing pan for Bertie Marshall with Highlanders and as a true Laventillian. He said all of Laventille would be in mourning over the passing of a “true son.” He said Pan Trinbago wished to extend their condolences to the family and friends of Ollivierra. “We truly have lost a stalwart. We have lost a true son of the soil,” he said.
Forteau also said he believed Ollivierra had played in every Panorama since its inception. Pan historian Dr Kim Johnson said Ollivierra was very important to the early days in the development of steelband music and played a fundamental role in helping the players of the instrument gain recognition and respect.
He said Ollivierra will be remembered for his contribution while playing Bertie Marshall’s amplified pan or “Bertphone,” while he was a pannist with the Highlanders. Ollivierra’s funeral will take place at the Trinity Cathedral, Port-of-Spain, at 9.30 am on June 18.
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