"Rock" with North Stars in 1962


PLACE OF BIRTH: ..., Trinidad
  • North Stars (1950s-1963)
  • West Side Symphony/Sunjets (1963-1967)
  • Esso, Bermuda (1967-1980)
  • Johnston Fantastic Symphony Steel Orchestra (1980-1989)
  • Tuner
  • Player
  • Arranger
  • Ambassador
  • CAREER:                                    A former body-builder who learned to tune pans under Anthony Williams, Johnston gained wide recognition for his lead tenor performance in North Stars' 1962 Steelband Music Festival winning selection of Johann Strauss' "Voices of Spring." Referred to as the "piano pan," Johnston's tenor pan contained 36 notes and was the special creation of band-leader and tuner, Anthony Williams. In 1963, Johnston left North Stars to form his own band, Westside Symphony, which he led to victory in the 1964 Music Festival with Johann Strauss' "Roses from the South." Westside later changed its name to Sunjets and gained the sponsorship of BWIA. In 1967, Johnston left Trinidad for Bermuda where he spent 13 years playing with the Esso steelband. He migrated to New York in October 1980 where he formed the Johnston Fantastic Symphony Steel Orchestra primarily with family members. Johnston was an ambassador for pan music and his career included New York performances at the United Nations, Lincoln Center, and Radio City Music Hall. He also performed with the Boston Symphony at one of its summer festivals in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Johnston eventually moved to Spring Hill, Florida, in 1989 where he continued to be active in steelband music until 1997, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The following is a summary of Johnston's' record in significant steelband competition:
    • Steelband Music Festival
    • 1964 - "Roses from the South" (Johann Strauss), 1st
    • Panorama
    • 1965 - "Steering Wheel" (Mighty Sparrow), 3rd
    DIED: April 30, 2001
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit