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The Esso Trinidad Steel Band - JPop.com
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The Esso Trinidad Steel Band

The Esso Trinidad Steel Band

The Esso Trinidad Steel Band


The Tripoli Steelband goes back to 1942, where they took their name from the line in the Marine Hymn “....to the the shores of Tripoli”. Hugh Borde who was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1933, became the leader of the band in 1951, at the age of 18. He was already an excellent ping pong soloist on the instrument. By 1964, the band entered the first Steel Band Music Festival in Trinidad and received a standing ovation at the Queen’s Hall for their rendition of “The Man I Love. Read more on Last.fm
The Tripoli Steelband goes back to 1942, where they took their name from the line in the Marine Hymn “....to the the shores of Tripoli”. Hugh Borde who was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1933, became the leader of the band in 1951, at the age of 18. He was already an excellent ping pong soloist on the instrument. By 1964, the band entered the first Steel Band Music Festival in Trinidad and received a standing ovation at the Queen’s Hall for their rendition of “The Man I Love.” By 1965, the Esso Oil Company decided to sponsor the band. Later that year the Esso Tripoli Steel Band won the ‘bomb’ (interpreting a piece of European classical music arranged for the steel band) at the Panorama, a national competition between steel bands. Borde also led the National Steel Band of Trinidad & Tobago at the Commonwealth Arts Festival in England, and the Esso Tripoli Steel Band won the Prime Minister’s Trophy which gave them the right to play for Queen Elizabeth of England during her visit to Trinidad in 1966. For three weeks during their 1967 tour, the band was chosen, by official request, to play at the outdoor stage of the Trinidad-Tobago and Grenada Pavilion at Expo ‘67, the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada.

After the tour, an album was put out on the ARC Sound label out of Toronto. It was aptly called The Esso Trinidad Steelband On Tour. One of the band’s biggest breaks occurred during one of their performances at the Expo ‘67. Liberace, the world famous pianist, became fascinated with the band, offering them an opening slot in his show and taking them on tour for two years.

Borde recalls, “He was very proud to present to the people in America, this unique type of music. He would come and play ‘12th Street Rag’ or ‘Alleycat’ with us.” With Liberace sitting in on a few songs, Tripoli recorded an album (‘Liberace Presents the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band’), that later went on to win a Grammy Award. The band was no longer called the Esso Trinidad Steel Band, as the Esso Company was not sponsoring the band, anymore. In the late 1960s, in addition to their work with Liberace, the band also performed alongside top entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Della Reese, Dionne Warwick, and others. They also had major guest shots on television shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Mike Douglas and David Frost. Back home in Trinidad, Borde won the prestigious Hummingbird medal Award in 1971.

By 1976 Borde and his family left Trinidad and moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan. While he was in Trinidad adjudicating at the 1977 Panorama, his son, Emile was at home putting together a band with other family members, in the basement of the family home. When Hugh returned to Michigan he felt that the band was good enough to go on the road as the new Trinidad Tripoli Steelband. The band recorded an album in 1985 called “Momentum” for the Meridian record label. In 1994, the band recorded “Hot Like Fire” for the Schoolkids record label.

They continue to tour the U.S. and Hugh continues to be a judge at the annual Panorama in Trinidad during the Carnival Season. In June of 2001, Warner Brothers are to begin filming the life of Liberace, starring Robin Williams. They have contacted Hugh about this, so hopefully, the music of the Esso Trinidad Tripoli Steelband will be heard again. © Fred Reif/March, 2001 Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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