Tributes for Antigua’s first calypso king

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Antigua’s first calypso king, “King Styler”, will be laid to rest on April 20.

Styler, whose real name was Samuel Ryan, died aged 84 at his home in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, on March 31.

The Montserratian won the inaugural Antigua Carnival calypso competition in 1957 – beating local legend King Obstinate – with his song Water Wet Meh Bed. It was a song about his hard upbringing in the emerald isle where his adopted mother would throw water on his bed to wake him up to help her bake bread.

Ryan lost his crown to Obstinate the following year.

Born in Montserrat in 1938, Ryan’s mother died when he was young and he never met his father. He stayed with a family in Town Hill who owned a bakery. His adopted mother would force him to bake bread at the bakery where she would overwork him.

He ran away and moved to Antigua in 1955. He stayed with a cousin in Green Bay and it was there he met the then young King Obstinate who encouraged him to try his hand at calypso.

Ryan is said to have earned his professional moniker on account of his stylish dance moves.

He went on to record several albums. He later moved to St Thomas and recorded more albums before turning to Christianity and gospel music. 

Before his passing, Ryan told friends and family that the doctor had said his heart was not working properly. He then began gathering hymns that he wanted to be sung at his funeral, which will take place at Shiloh Adventist Church in St Thomas at 10am.

Ryan is survived by five children.

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