By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) and a member of the local pan association, Leon Rodney, has thanked recently deceased calypso and soca giant Sir Rupert “King Swallow” Philo for his contribution to culture and also to pan.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Rodney said Sir Rupert’s music provided endless choices for many bands during the annual Carnival celebrations.
“I think he is going to be remembered as one of the giants of Caribbean music and not just Antigua, because when you go back to hits like the Subway Jam, Fire in the Backseat and he has a lot. For us as panmen, I think we should be happy we would have had Swallow to provide us with so many different choices of melodies to play, especially in Panorama, because that was very important for melodies so Swallow would have provided quite a long list of songs that I think would have played up to last year in the competition,” he said.
King Swallow, who is said to have tried his hand as a fast bowler in the past, passed away at his home in Willikies last Friday following a long bout of illness.
Rodney said the iconic Antiguan also dominated in countries that, at the time, were considered the meccas for calypso and soca throughout the world.
“Apart from the tempo of his music, we would have come to accept that once you would have performed at the level of which he performed in Trinidad, and that Trinidad was always the gateway of somebody moving to North America to perform or Europe to perform, so I think Swallow had what you may want to call a home court advantage. At one point in time, if you were not aware that Swallow is from Antigua you would have [thought] he was from Trinidad,” he said.
A four-time Calypso Monarch and five-time Road March winner in Antigua and Barbuda, King Swallow won over audiences across the region with songs such as ‘Fire in the Backseat’, ‘Subway Jam’, ‘Party In Space’ and ‘Satan Coming Down’.