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Pan Pioneers UK


Since the first performance of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) at the Festival of Britain in 26 July 1951, the interest and intrigue of pan in the UK has been unquenchable.

The Notting Hill Carnival took place for the first time in 1964, encouraging people of all cultures to express their creativity in street processions through costumes (mas), calypso and soca, pan (steel bands) and sound systems as an appeal to bring together diverse and hostile communities. Today the Carnival attracts over one million people every year and generates over £100m per annum for London's economy.

The first steelband to participate in Notting Hill Carnival was Nostalgia Steel Orchestra. By 1969 there were more bands starting to emerge; Melody Makers, Blue Notes and Bay 57 which Len Boogsie Sharp was part of when be was in England.

Read more about the lives of some of the steel band movement pioneers and how they influenced British music for years to come ...

Sterling Betancourt MBE by Kevin Joseph

Sterling Betancourt MBE

Steel pan pioneer Sterling Betancourt was born in Trinidad and travelled to Britain in 1951 with Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra to perform at the Festival of Britain. More...

Bubbles portrait

Michael 'Bubbles' Oliviere

Michael 'Bubbles' Oliviere wrote the lyrics on one the UK's first steel band albums. One track 'Heaven and Hell is on Earth' made a lasting impact on popular music around the world. More...

Gerald Forsyth OBE by Mary Genis

Gerald Forsyth OBE

Trinidad born Gerald Forsyth pioneered the introduction of steel pan music into London schools in the 1970's and wrote a book about the lifetime journey of a pan legend. More...

Trinidad to the UK

Tuner close up

Pan pioneers who came from Trinidad to the UK in the 1950s, 60s and 70s brought their skills as pan makers, musicians and arrangers, introducing the flavour of Caribbean carnival culture to music education in UK schools.