Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 16th 2013 Contents B1
The lights blinked off in the
Savannah stage and the crowd
roared when a picture of the late,
great panman Rudolph Charles
beamed onto the giant screen.
When the lights flashed back on,
David Rudder raised his arm,
clenched his foot and delivered The
Hammer. And still there was one
more weapon in that 1986 National
Calypso Monarch finals: the Bahia
Gyul coming to life through Rud-
der s Baptist chant.
Early Dimanche Gras morning,
Rudder walked away from Carnival
1986 as the National Calypso
Monarch. He would become Road
March King. He was already the
Young King. Calypso connoisseurs
knew they had witnessed a defining
point in calypso history.
Looking back on those achieve-
ments of 1986, Rudder realises the
strong reactions it evoked that Car-
"People were pulled all over the
place...I remember the morning of
the show, my mother went to a shop
and the shopkeeper was telling
someone there was a Belmont boy
in the show. That guy in the shop
said, Rudder will come last. That
was magic for me. Generally, I don t
feel pressure, but comments like that
meant I felt even more relaxed," says
Rudder. "Because there were no
expectations. No one thought I could
win. I went to the Savannah that
night, and I felt no pressure."
Rudder was accustomed to work-
ing the stage. As the co-lead singer
of Charlie s Roots (along with
Christopher "Tambu" Herbert), he
was treading on new territory in the
Calypso Monarch finals.
"The stage was like second nature
to me. That s why I didn t put any
girl or prop on stage. I wanted to
stand there and make people feel
that Bahia gyul in their minds. I
remember when Gary Dore (who
organised the stage presentation in
the Savannah) had said to me the
only person to have ever controlled
that stage was Shadow. He just
walked in a circle. I wanted that kind
of power. All I remember is cutting
the gig and trying in The Hammer
to cover every inch of the stage,"
Sparrow named him King David
With the crowd roaring at his back
as he danced off stage, Rudder
realised something special had hap-
pened. He remembers, almost like
a dream, the results being called.
"I can t remember anything after
that except for a rastaman watching
with a big smile. Sparrow shook my
hand and said, I m going to name
you now: King David. "
Rudder existed in a dream-like
state for a month. "It never sank
in," he says. "I didn t understand
the power of the moment."
That feeling didn t diminish the
following year, when Rudder placed
second to Stalin, who won with Bun
"It was almost as powerful as the
year I won: 1986 was the trigger and
1987 with the aftershock."
If 86 seemed to be opening up
a whole new direction in soca where
the music and musicians popular in
the fetes could find a place on the
traditional calypso stage, the steps
were yanked out from under the
newcomers in 1987 when calypso
reverted to its ultra-conservative
Looking back, Rudder says his
defending soca for 1987, Calypso
Music, turned out to be the song
that had the most meaning for him
in his career.
"People kept saying I wasn t a
calypsonian and that talk drew that
song out of me. That initial reaction,
the backlash from people, is what
caused Calypso Music. In a sense I
understood where it was coming
from, and I felt I had to react---sub-
consciously at least."
He says Calypso Music just
flowed from him.
"It wasn t that I was going to
write something to show critics
everything about calypso. It
was just like, This is how I
feel. It was purer than just con-
sciously constructing or crafting
something. All the emotions
and being pulled all over the
place resulted in that song."
mostly filled with joy
Now, at 60, looking back,
Rudder says his career has mostly
been filled with joy.
"Lots of ups, but even the downs
were good lessons. I can t complain.
The connection to people through
music and people talking about
songs that never even saw the light
of day like Into the Night, made it
"Sometimes you write a song on
an album and think no one is going
to take that on and people write and
say how it touched them.
Rudder turns 60
...King David looks back at a career mostly filled with joy
Lots of ups, but even the downs were
good lessons. I can't complain. The
connection to people through music and
people talking about songs that never even
saw the light of day like Into the Night,
made it all worthwhile.
Sometimes you write a song on an album
and think no one is going to take that on
and people write and say how it touched
• Continues on Page B2
David Rudder. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
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