DATE OF BIRTH: March 1, 1924
PLACE OF BIRTH: Laventille, Trinidad
  • Tripoli (1940s)
  • Crossfire (1940s - 1951)
  • TASPO (1951)
  • La Creole Pan Groove
  • Tuner
  • Player
  • Arranger
  • CAREER:                                       Betancourt was a Tamboo Bamboo player in the late 1930s before he began his steelband career. He became a member of the Tripoli steelband and later moved over to Crossfire where he became its captain and tuner. Both bands were located in St. James and were among the early group of bands formed in the country during the 1940s. He was one of twelve panmen selected to join TASPO as the Trinidad & Tobago representatives at the 1951 Festival of Britain which was held at the South Bank Complex in London. He stayed in England after the festival, formed a trio with pianist Russell Henderson and "doo-doop" (two-note bass) player Ralph Cherrie, and played at various nightclubs. With Betancourt playing tenor-pan, the trio was the first of its kind in Europe. Mervyn Constantine later replaced Cherrie in the trio.
                                                             Betancourt worked endlessly at getting the British school system to include steelband music in its curriculum, and he made his living playing and teaching steelband music in the primary and secondary schools of London. In the inaugural Notting Hill Carnival in 1965, Betancourt's band was the only steelband in the parade. For his contributions to the furtherance of the art form in England, Betancourt received an honorary degree in London and, on January 1, 2002, he was made a Member of the British Empire. Betancourt has been an ambassador for steelband music and played in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Dubai, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.
    • 2002 - Member of the British Empire (MBE)
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit