Trinidad's National Archives reveals legacy of master Steelpan arranger Clive Bradley

Trinidad’s National Archives reveals legacy of master Steelpan arranger Clive Bradley

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago has recently shared a glimpse and life story of the master arranger and composer Clive Bradley.

The glimpse shared explained his arrangement to members of the Desperadoes “Despers” Steel Orchestra, formerly known as Witco Desperadoes. “He was also the man responsible for shaping Panorama into how we know it,” noted the National Archives.

While sharing the update about Bradley was born on November 4th 1936, in Diego Martin and attended Fatima College. He later became a teacher there, in addition to becoming a self-taught musician. During this time, he also played the guitar and keyboards while composing music for several brass bands. Though he did not play the steelpan himself, when Desperadoes needed an arranger in 1968, their manager Rudolph Charles asked Bradley to assist. The rest, as they say, is history.

Reportedly, Bradley led Desperadoes to six wins at Panorama, in 1970, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1999 and 2000, with many second and third prizes in between. Memorably, in 1998 he led the Arima-based steelband Nutones to victory at Panorama as well, with “High Mas”.

National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago informed that his talent as an arranger stemmed from his excellence as a teacher, as he often taught the competition pieces to various band members, who then memorised them. He was known for innovative arrangements, for example, having his players remove the rubber tips from their drumsticks in order for their notes to evoke the sound of rain.

During the 1980s-2000s, Bradley also worked in the United States, where he arranged for steel bands in New York, leading two different groups to win the New York Panorama ten times between 1982 and 2005. Sadly, he passed away on November 26th 2005.

Additionally, it shared a photograph showing Clive Bradley courtesy of the book, “The Illustrated Story of Pan” by Kim Johnson. This book is part of the National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago Reference Collection.