I’m never quite comfortable with assigning the creation of these instruments to individuals, except in specific instances like the spider web by Tony Williams or the high tenor by Bertie marshall as examples.

Early Steelband

In the early days as I recall most steelbands had tuners, and these guys copied from each other.

Pan tuning wasn’t a valued craft as it is today, and guys were mostly creating instruments to play on the road for carnival.

Many of these guys weren’t as musical literate or as technical as today’s tuners, but somehow the technology spread, so that as new instruments were created, they were quickly copied.

In the early sixties, the steelbands were mostly about the carnival.

I remember almost every year between about 1960 and 1965 going to the panyard in Marabella (Southern Marines) as they practiced for carnival and discovering a new line of pans – cellos, double tenors, double seconds, etc. as the bands transitioned from pan round neck to carriages.

The bass improved from single pan to three pans and then to five and six basses.

The most unheralded panist and tuner of them all, Milton “Squeezer” Lyons was the Captain, arranger, and tuner, and a young Bertram Kellman was an assistant, or I should say, apprentice.

And in those days it was no accident that Marines were reputed to have the sweetest pans in the south!

This is not meant to discredit or diminish the roles of the most important and influential pioneers of the art-form; men like Tony Williams, Bertie Marshall, and Ellie Mannette for example.

It’s just a reminder that like in war many contribute to the achievement of success, not just the celebrated and well-known heroes; and they should also be recognized.

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