Desperadoes Steel Orchestra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Desperadoes Steel Orchestra
Origin Laventille, Trinidad
Genres Steelpan
Years active 1950 – present

Curtis Edwards-Manager: Kelvin Holder-Captain: David Davis-Vice Captain Havilana Davidson-Secretary: Makeba Christopher-Treasurer:

Trustees-Kevin Glasgow & Glenford Wallace

The Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, also called Despers, is a steelband from Laventille in Trinidad.

Origins and evolution[edit]

The Desperadoes Steel Orchestra emerged from the Hills of Laventille in 1947. The name of the group was chosen from the movie Desperadoes starring Glenn Ford that was shown in Port of Spain at the time. The group's first name was The Laventille Boys, and later The Dead End Kids.

Desperadoes were known more for their Mas Portrayal, thanks to Mr. Wilfred "Speaker" Harrison, rather than a good Steelband. That began to change in the late 1950s when a teenage panside by the name of Spike Jones, from Ovid Alley off Laventille Road merged into Desperadoes. Mr. Rudolph Charles was given the captaincy in 1961, which lasted until his death in 1985. Mr. Charles recruited a few members away from other Steelbands and an arranger by the name of Mr.Beverly Griffith and transformed Desperadoes from a steelband into a Steel Orchestra. in later years he invited several pantuners such as Mr. Bertie Marshall and Mr. Lincoln Noel to create the best possible orchestral effects.

The orchestra has worldwide appearances and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1972, Carnegie Hall in 1987, and performed with the Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti in Barbados in 1996. The late Mr. Raymond "Artie" Shaw was the first musician to conduct Desperadoes Steel Orchestra at their performance for Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and the late, Insp. Anthony Prospect conducted their English tour in 1981. The late Dr. Pat Bishop conducted their performance at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Desperadoes have also toured some of Trinidad & Tobago's motherlands; such as Africa, India, China, England and Grenada. Desperadoes has qualified for the most Panorama finals,48 of 52, was a finalist for 36 consecutive years 1976 through 2011, has the highest winning percentage(1) victory every 5.2 years, has won every entered competition, and has a total of 24 combined victories, from 1965 to 2011. Desperadoes is the only steel orchestra to have maintained such a high level of consistency over the last 50 years, hence he term, Finest Steel Orchestra Ever. For more history about Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, see the new book, "Desperadoes <> Rudolph Charles Era and Beyond" by Ian Franklin.[1]


Despers also make an effort to educate their community in Laventille, and has hosted Pan Camps with up to 200 children participating. Besides playing steelpan, the program includes foreign language training, life skills and field trips.[2]



Despers won the national Panorama Championship of Trinidad and Tobago ten times in their history.[3] The orchestra always takes part in the big-band category with a minimum of one hundred musicians.

Year Song Arranger
1966 "Obeah Wedding" Beverly Griffith
1970 "Margie" Clive Bradle6y
1976 "Pan in Harmony" Clive Bradley pi 0
1977 "Crawford" Clive Bradley
1983 "Rebecca" Clive Bradley
1985 "Pan Night and Day" B. Griffith & R. Greenidge
1991 "Musical Volcano" Robert Greenidge
1994 "Fire Coming Down" Robert Greenidge
1999 "In my House" Clive Bradley
2000 "Picture on my Wall" Clive Bradley

Music Festival[edit]

Desperadoes have won the (Pan Is Beautiful) Steel Orchestra Music Festival of Trinidad and Tobago three times. They played the "Polovetsian Dances" by Borodin in 1986, the "Marche Slave" from Tchaikovsky in 1988 and the "Bartered Bride" by Smetana in 1992. Their classical renditions were all arranged and conducted by the late, Dr. Pat Bishop. Desperadoes have also won The Best Village Classical Competition for pan in 1965. They performed "The Marriage of Figaro", which was arranged By Mr. Beverly Griffith. In 1967 they won The Champ of Champs Classical Competition. Their rendition of "Palaestra" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" were arranged and conducted by the late Raymond "Artie" Shaw. [4]


  • Voices from the Hills: Despers & Laventille - The steelband and its effects on poverty, stigma & violence in a community, by Ancil Anthony Neil, 1987.


  1. ^ For more about the winning steel orchestras in Trinidad & Tobago, and New York's, Brooklyn Panorama, see the book 400 Questions & Answers on Pan from 1960 to Present, by Ian R. Franklin.
  2. ^ Pancamp
  3. ^ Panorama
  4. ^ Music Festival

External links[edit]