PAN PIONEER Elliot “Ellie” Mannette died yesterday at a West Virginia hospital, where he was being treated for kidney failure. He was 91.
A post by his family on Facebook yesterday said: “He was surrounded by people that loved him up until the very end. We would like to thank everyone for all the thoughts and prayers for Ellie. He was truly touched to see how much he is loved around the world. Ellie dedicated his entire life for the development of the steel pan. His biggest goal was to create and leave a legacy for his students to follow and continue his work. Thankfully, this legacy is in good hands and will be continued in his honour. Ellie’s tireless work over the past 75 years has touched the lives of so many people around the world. His family at Mannette Instruments will cherish his memory and continue his hard work.”
Members of the pan fraternity also reacted to Mannette’s death.
Michael Din Chong, manager of Shell Invaders, the band Mannette founded, said: “Our condolences go out to the Mannette family on behalf of the management of Invaders and the players. It is a great loss.
“When we celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2015 he was unable to be with us, so we went to him in West Virginia in 2016 and made a presentation to him for his contribution to the formation of the band, and his subsequent innovations of the steelpan. No doubt he is the greatest contributor to our band.
“We have just decided that we are going to dedicate our Republic Day J’Ouvert in honour of him.”
Master pannist, steelpan tuner and Mannette’s personal friend Emanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley said from New York: “Ellie was the best steelband captain and steelpan maker in the world. He was responsible for all the advancement of the steelband. He was the man that invented everything. I was in Invaders panyard working with him when he discovered the octaves and the fifths.
“He was also a man who, after practice in the panyard, will go home and listen to classical music.
“He was a very decent guy. I really can’t describe the loss that I feel right now because the way I look up to him I just don’t know what to say.”
Richard Forteau, secretary of Pan Trinbago, said:“We at Pan Trinbago send condolences to his family, Invaders and the entire pan fraternity. Indeed we have lost a great one.
“He went to West Virginia and carved a name for himself. His contribution was a great one. He was one of the few surviving members of TASPO (Trinidad All-Steel Percussion Orchestra). Now we only have Sterling Betancourt and Tony Williams.”
Ace pannist and arranger Ken “Professor” Philmore said: “Ellie Mannette was a true, true ambassador of TT.
“I had the opportunity when he was in West Virginia to do a couple workshops with him and Andy Narrell.
“I am very saddened to hear about his death. He was a great inventor. As a matter of fact the ‘thirds’ tenor pan that I play was invented by him. I believe the only two people that play that pan are Narrell and myself.
“My prayers and thoughts go out to Invaders and by extension to the entire pan fraternity. We have truly lost a great pioneer. May he rest in peace.”
Von Martin, CEO and founder of Caribbeana Communications Inc, Washington, DC, said: “I spoke with Ellie just two weeks ago to see what was his opinion of the book Voices of Pan Pioneers of Trinidad & Tobago. He was delighted as there was a whole chapter on his story in the book. He exclaimed, ‘You did a lot of work in it, man.’ I am satisfied that he was satisfied.
“Recently I took the boys and girls of Pan Lara steelband to meet the icon in Morgantown, West Virginia. It was a treat to see Ellie engage with the youths. It was as though he was satisfied that pan is in the right hands. Mannette’s work at West Virginia State University, Mannette Instruments and the scores of steel pan projects were tremendous accomplishments.
“I plan to do a three-hour tribute on my Saturday’s show of pan music in honour of this global icon.”