DESPERADOES


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This Laventille (Rose Hill) band was formed in the early-1940s by a group of young men that included Wilfred "Talkative" Harrison, Ivan "Brains" Bourne, Reynald "Singco" John, Donald "Jit" Steadman, Carlton "Mimp" Francis, Brooks Banton, Wilfred "Be-eh" Pacheco, and George Yeates. The band was first called the "Dead End Kids" before its name was changed in the 1950s to Gay Desperadoes, after the 1936 American movie "The Gay Desperado" starring Ida Lupino. In the late-1950s, before it made its impact musically, Desperadoes was involved in some of the most violent Carnival clashes with other steelbands: Tokyo; Renegades; and San Juan All Stars. However, by the early-1960s, the band's image began to change under the leadership of George Yeates who was successful in gaining the sponsorship of the Coca Cola Company. Around this period, Rudolph "Crabby" Charles left the small steelband "Spike Jones" to join Desperadoes and, by the mid-1960s, had become its leader and arranger. By then, the band had moved from its first location in lower Laventille Hill to the community center up the hill. In 1966, the sponsorship of the band changed from Coca Cola to the West Indian Tobacco Company.

Under Charles's leadership, help was recruited to improve the band with tuners Ellie Mannette, Vernon "Birdie" Mannette and Emmanuel "Kobo Jack" Riley from the Invaders Steelband, and musicians Beverly Griffith (Starland Steelband), Carl "Bumpy Nose" Greenidge (Kentuckians Steelband), Raymond "Artie" Shaw (Police Band), and Clive Bradley (Clarence Curvan Orchestra). Later, Robert Greenidge joined the list of musical arrangers who contributed to the band's success. Strongly supported by the Laventille community, Desperadoes had very impressive Carnival presentations from the mid-1950s through the 1960s: "Sands of Iwo Jima"; "Operation Korea"; "To Hell and Back"; "Glorious Spain"; "Crawl of the Crocodile"; "Prisoner of Zenda"; "Extracts from the Animal Kingdom"; "The Frozen North."

Over the years, Desperadoes performed in concert abroad at the following venues: Royal Albert Hall (London, England); Carnegie Hall (New York, USA), with Liza Minelli and Skitch Henderson; the first Black Arts Festival (Senegal); Apollo Theatre (New York, USA); and Barbados, with Luciano Pavarotti. Following one of its visits to the USA in the 1970s, the band changed its name from "Gay Desperadoes" to "Desperadoes." The band won the Panorama competition ten times, the Steelband Music Festival three times and, in 1992, received the Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold for its cultural contributions. Desperadoes finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:

YEAR EVENT RESULT SELECTION ARRANGER
1963 Panorama 3rd The Road (Lord Kitchener) Beverly Griffith
1964 Panorama 2nd Mama Dis Is Mas (Lord Kitchener) Beverly Griffith
1966 Panorama 1st Obeah Wedding (Mighty Sparrow) Beverly Griffith
1967 Panorama 2nd Governor's Ball (Mighty Sparrow) Beverly Griffith
1970 Panorama 1st Margie (Lord Kitchener) Clive Bradley
1976 Panorama 1st Pan in Harmony (Lord Kitchener) Clive Bradley
1977 Panorama 1st Hasely Crawford (Lord Kitchener) Clive Bradley
1978 Panorama 2nd Pan in the 21st Century (Lord Kitchener) Clive Bradley
1980 Panorama 2nd No Pan (Lord Kitchener) Clive Bradley
1982 Panorama 3rd Party (Lord Nelson) Clive Bradley
1983 Panorama 1st Rebecca (Blue Boy) Clive Bradley
1985 Panorama 1st (Tied) Pan Night and Day (Lord Kitchener) Beverly Griffith & Robert Greenidge
1986 Steelband Music Festival 1st Polovetsian Dances (Alexanader Borodin)  
1987 Panorama 3rd Pan in A Minor (Lord Kitchener) Robert Greenidge
1988 Panorama 3rd Panama (David Rudder) Robert Greenidge
1988 Steelband Music Festival 1st    
1991 Panorama 1st Musical Volcano (Robert Greenidge) Robert Greenidge
1992 Steelband Music Festival 1st    
1994 Panorama 1st Fire Coming Down (Robert Greenidge) Robert Greenidge
1995 Panorama 3rd Pan Parang (Robert Greenidge) Robert Greenidge
1996 Panorama 3rd (Tied) Blast Off (Robert Greenidge) Robert Greenidge
1999 Panorama 1st In My House (Emanuel Synette) Clive Bradley
2000 Panorama 1st Picture on My Wall (Emanuel Synette) Clive Bradley
2001 Panorama 3rd Yuh Looking for Horn (Mighty Shadow) Clive Bradley
2005 Panorama 3rd Action (Emanuel Synette) Clive Bradley
2016 Panorama 1st Different Me (sung by 5 Star Akil, composed by Jovan James) Carlton Alexander
2017 Panorama 2nd Good Morning (sung by Peter Ram composed by Jovan James) Carlton Alexander
2018 Panorama 3rd Year For Love Carlton Alexander
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit