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Guppy Brown, Raf Robertson dead

By Joan Rampersad Saturday, December 5 2015

SECRETARY of Pan Trinbago Richard Forteau, could not have said it better yesterday.

“Here at PanTrinbago we are at a loss for words as one of our master builders and pan tuners Herman Guppy “Brown” has gone. And while we struggle to come to terms with that, lo and behold this morning we got information that another one of our icons, Raf Robertson has also left us.” Both Guppy in his mid-sixties and Robertson 64, passed away on Thursday. After viewing a television show he did with Guppy yesterday, culture afficionado Alvin Daniell revealed that Brown was Guppy’s nickname that stuck. Kenneth, Tony and Clifton Guppy are his brothers who are all involved in pan.

According to Daniell, Guppy’s father tried to discourage him from playing the pan, but Guppy told him on the show that this was how Guppy earned his living. Guppy got involved in pan at age nine in the late fifties, and in 1964 he started tuning pans, when Lennox Blaine from Invaders asked him to assist. He never turned back. He sought from the likes of Winston Spree Simon, Bertie Marshall and Lincoln Noel.

On When Steel Talks yesterday a number of people commented on the passing of Guppy.

Guppy was among 15 pan tuners who were honoured for their contribution to the steelpan movement during Pan On the Avenue IV this year.

Robertson, a pianist, composer, arranger, teacher and producer, with over 40 years of international experience, was also the father of Grammy Award winner Mylz Robertson, who is a musical director and keyboardist for singer, Adele.

Regarding the loss of Robertson, Forteau said: “Raf back in the 80’s did work with Phase II and Mona’s Jewel 22 on the recording (Wanted Dead or Alive/Amazing Grace).

He did the keyboard.

It is a collector’s item.

He also would have worked with the Birdsong Academy, as a tutor in keyboard and voice training.” Daniell opined: “Raf was one of the leading jazz pianist in TT. He had a flair for doing jazz arrangements of local calypsos, especially the late Lord Kitchener’s music.” And that was evident at the 2009 San Fernando Jazz Festival themed: “Pass The Hat — A Tribute To Lord Kitchener” by Robertson who has been known for his affection for the music of the late Road March King, Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts).

His Branches CD included songs such as “Pan in A Minor”, “Iron Man”, “Margie”, “Pan in Harmony” and “Pan Night and Day”.

More recently, Robertson was involved in the production of Return of the Hat, a docudrama based on the life and times of the late, great calypsonian.

“No doubt, Raf entertains a more sacred view of our cultural development, akin to an anthropologist about the science of humankind,” said Dalton Narine Robertson’s last published album was Majesty, a collaboration with Pamberi Steel Orchestra.

He leaves to mourn his mom Yvonne, wife Wendy, and others.

including Kelvin and Yvonne Scoon.

A third person in the musical field also passed away this week.

He is Junior Reid, drummer with band Moyenne, led by Chantal Esdelle.



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