DATE OF BIRTH: September 25, 1941
PLACE OF BIRTH: Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
EDUCATION: St. Mary's College
CAREER:                                    Tanker's first musical instrument was a tenor pan given to him by the legendary panman Ellie Mannette when he was eight years old. He grew up in a community that was filled with distinguished artistes such as Beryl McBurnie, John "Buddy" Williams, and the Invaders Steelband. He started playing the cuatro at 13 and formed his own combo, The Coronets, when he was in high school. He was one of the first musicians to integrate the pan with conventional music instruments when he formed the combo, The Flamingoes, in the late-1950s and featured Ray Holman on the tenor pan. An accomplished guitarist, Tanker also mastered the vibraphone and harmonica and included them in his combo. Band rehearsals were held at the corner of Roberts and Luis Street in Woodbrook at the home of his bassist, Noble Williams, the son of John "Buddy" Williams.
                                                    In 1970, Tanker turned to composing and wrote the musical score for Derek Walcott's play "Ti Jean and His Brothers." He later scored the music for Mustapha Matura's play "Playboy of the West Indies." He also wrote the soundtrack for the Earl Lovelace play "The Dragon Can't Dance" which played to audiences in Canada, England, and througout the Caribbean. In 1974, he wrote the score for Raoul Pantin's movie "Bim." In 1988, he had a leading role in the concert "Drum Trinity" which was staged over two weekends at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port-of-Spain. In 1993, he travelled to New York, USA, and wrote the score for an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," which was presented in New York City's Central Park and featured American actors Kevin Kline and Blair Underwood.
                                                    At the turn of the 20th century, Tanker and his band, One World Contraband, remained very popular in Trinidad. In 2000, the band appeared in a jazz special on the American cable station BET. His compositions include:
  • 2002 - Ben Lion
  • 2003 - Is Heat; Rough Jamming; Food Fight; Rough Jamming
  • Also - Sayamanda; Hosanna Higher; Steelband Times; River Come Down; Basement Party; Forward Home
  • 1992 - Sunshine Award for Outstanding Contribution to Caribbean Music
  • 2003 - Chaconia Medal Gold (posthumously, for Contribution to Music)
DIED: February 28, 2003, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, from a heart attack.
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit