MEMBERS of the pan fraternity turned out in large numbers Monday to bid final farewell to Steve Achaiba, the last captain and arranger of Hatters Steel Orchestra to bring the National Panorama title to the south, back in 1975.
At his funeral service held at Guides Funeral Home, Coffee Street, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello told mourners, including his wife Candice and children Jonathan, Douglas and Adriana, “The City has lost one of its proudest sons.”
Regrello said Achaiba flew the flag of his beloved city with passion and pride and brought joy happiness, not only to the people of San Fernando, but all of TT with his music.”
Regrello paid tribute to Achaiba, 74, both as the mayor of the city and as a member of the pan fraternity. Regrello described him as a trailblazer and “a game changer who came, saw and conquered.”
“Steve followed the steep traditions set by his southern predecessors but was always determined to go one better. He blazed a trail from 1969, where he defeated his mentor and the leading south band at that time for the southern title.
“By 1974, he had found his formula establishing a most formidable record from that period to 1976. As we look at his narrative, we cannot negate his genius nor can we be indignant to his fallibility.
“He was not ordinary, he was an exceptional pan musician, whose talent was a nexus, as his emergence as an arranger came at that transitional period of the fifties where popular music was structured on jam and excitement and the seventies, where an evolution was occurring with the steel pan, with reference to its rapidly improving quality of sound, coupled with the introduction of new instruments. This provided him with a wide range of musical ideas and options”
He recalled his achievement between 1969 to 1977 with Hatters and South Stars Steel Orchestra between 1978 to 1984.
Like most gifted leaders, Regrello said Achaiba had peculiar personality traits.
“His opinion was law, he had a unique burden as he was both leader and arranger of his band. I can recall where a group of us including Jit Samaroo and myself were being interviewed in Barbados on national television during Carifesta and he described himself as the leader, arranger and manager of his band to the astonishment of those of us that were there. But that was the man.
“Should he be criticised? I don’t think so. Individuals like that have an innate quality, a determination to achieve their set goals and it has nothing to do whether they are wrong or right. Steve was a game changer – he came, he saw, and he conquered.”