Rudolph Charles

Rudolph Charles October 1 1938 – March 29 1985,

He grew up in Laventille, a ward of Trinidad, near the capital Port of Spain, as the fourth of nine children. He was one of two well known and very popular Trinidadians who was born and grew up in Laventille; the other is Destra Garcia, the Queen of Bacchanal. From 1958 to 1985, he was bandleader and tuner for the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra. Several instruments were invented by Charles for the steelband, including the Nine Bass, the Rocket Pans, and the Twelve Bass. Additionally, he invited other pan tuners, such as Bertie Marshall, to work with him.

The steelband movement was an influential part of Rudolph Charles’ life. Charles’ fight for higher recognition of pannists led to the boycott of the national Panorama in 1979.

On 29 March 1985, he died at the age of 46, and his funeral was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 April.

In 1986 David Rudder sang the composition “The Hammer” dedicated to Rudolph Charles.

The Rudolph Charles Pan Innovation Award was founded to encourage emerging tuners, and is a part of the Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband Music Festival.

In 2005 Destra Garcia paid tribute to Charles and her home town with a song entitled “Laventille (The Hammer Revisited)”, a duet with Rudder.

At UK Panorama 2013, Real Steel’s winning calypso “Hammer Time” was dedicated to Rudolph Charles.[2]

In 2014, Rudolph Charles was posthumously awarded the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for his contribution to culture at the Independence Day National Awards.

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