Pan Pioneer dies at 102

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by Cheryl Joseph

Antigua and Barbuda steel pan patriarch George “Nugget” Joseph passed away on Wednesday 29 August, 2018 at the age of 102 years.

Nugget Joseph was recognized for his outstanding contribution to pan in Antigua and Barbuda by the Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission and Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association.  In 2017, National Panorama Competition was renamed to the ACB George “Nugget Joseph Panorama Competition in his honour. 

Joseph was a founding member of the Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra and was a treble player. From the band’s inception, he served as the Captain, treasurer and secretary from 1945 until 1958.  In 1949, Joseph captained the Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra to its win of the first national competition. He was also instrumental in organising Hell’s Gate Steel Orchestra for their first performance at St. Peters Anglican Church in 1950, while also captaining the orchestra on many tours throughout the Caribbean.

He was vocal in the press in the early days of steel pan, dispersing all negative talks about the new musical art form. He was an ardent defender of pan when it was not in main steam.

He was loved and respected by many. Antigua and Barbuda has certainly lost a dedicated son of the soil.

The pan fraternity has extended condolences to the family of George “Nugget” Joseph, the Hells Gate Steel Orchestra and his friends.

He took with him so much of Antiguan history. To date, it is not known if because of Joseph’s contributions, that he was ever considered for the country knighthood, but he has not been yet afforded the honour.

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