Russell Henderson

Russell Audley Ferdinand “Russ” Henderson January 7, 1924- August 18, 2015 Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago

Russell Henderson grew up in Belmont, Port-of-Spain. Russell Henderson founded the Russell Henderson Quartet in the 1940s, accompanying calypsonians such as Lord Pretender, Mighty Growler and Roaring Lion. In addition, he taught melodies to steelpan pioneer Ellie Mannette of Invaders Steelband at the Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook.

Henderson studied piano tuning at North London Polytechnic in 1951.

After settling in England, he formed the first steelband combo in Britain (The Russ Henderson Steel Band) with Mervyn Constantine and Sterling Betancourt. In the early days of their London career, Henderson worked with fellow calypsonians Lord Kitchener and Young Tiger at The Sunset Club at 50 Carnaby Street[3].

Henderson began playing Sunday lunchtimes at the Coleherne pub on Old Brompton Road, Earls Court. He was joined by other West Indian jazz musicians including Joe Harriott and Shake Keane. After playing at the first Notting Hill Children’s Carnival in 1964, Henderson became an integral part of the development of Notting Hill Carnival. When Henderson decided to lead his steel band down the street, followed by a growing crowd, a street party for neighbourhood children turned into a carnival procession in 1966.

At the 606 Club in London, he performed a monthly show with his revised jazz quartet, sharing the evening with the Al Whynette Band. A number of interviews about Notting Hill’s past were conducted by Henderson in his retirement on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Four.

Nine-year-old Russell Henderson passed away on 18 August 2015

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