Mohammed remembered as 'eternal' pan arranger, composer

Lennox "Bobby" Mohammed - Photo by Sureash Cholai

Panman Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed is remembered by his younger brother Selwyn as the eternal pan arranger and composer.

Selwyn said Bobby was composing music on his deathbed at the San Fernando General Hospital, where he was treated for renal failure and internal bleeding before he died on Tuesday morning.

“Up until the last, when I spoke to him, he was still trying to compose music.”

He said he did not know his brother had kidney problems until a few days before he was hospitalised.

He lauded the strides his brother made in the pan arena, holding the record as the youngest arranger to win a national Panorama title, with the first steelband from San Fernando to do so.

He spoke with pride of the many world tours Mohammed had made, especially as leader of the national steelband to the Commonwealth Arts Festival in 1966, and the many records he produced with the band.

However, Selwyn said in spite of this, Mohammed, 78, was a quiet and unassuming man who never flaunted his achievements.

“He got ill some time ago and after that he dedicated himself to the Susamachar Presbyterian Church and began focusing on spiritual music.”

Pan Trinbago, in a Facebook post, also acknowledged Mohammed's disappearance after his glory days in the 1960s, which he ascribed to “the will of God.”

Mohammed said then that God touched his life and he was able to claw his way back from the brink of personal disaster to a place of hope. He acknowledged that God allowed him to produce eight steelband CDs, and three keyboard CDs after this experience.

Bobby is survived by his brothers Selwyn and Lester, widow Jennifer and daughters Michelle, a marketing executive and Dr Camille Mohammed.

His funeral will be held at 1.30 pm at Guide’s Funeral Home, Coffee Street, San Fernando on June 1 and will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

Pan Trinbago recalled that Mohammed, who was born in Siparia but moved to Mon Repos, San Fernando, fell in love when someone brought a tenor pan to his home.

“Having learnt to play the piano from his mother, he began to accompany both his brothers on the piano but soon began to play the cello pan. When the Gondoliers Steelband moved in his yard at home, he took up his position as cello player.

“The Gondoliers got the Guinness sponsorship playing at Tavern on the Green in Port of Spain. However, the band split up and Cavaliers was born out of Gondoliers. Guinness sponsorship went to the Cavaliers. “The arranger left because of the split and Bobby was appointed to lead and arrange music for the Guinness Cavaliers

In 1965, at 22, Mohammed became the youngest arranger to win a Panorama title with the south-based Guinness Cavaliers' version of Playing Mas by Lord Melody.

The feat was repeated in 1967 with an arrangement of Lord Kitchener’s Sixty Seven.

Pan Trinbago said Mohammed’s innovative style has left a permanent footprint on Panorama music today.

“He was instrumental in developing what is defined as the sound of the ‘south bands.’ He fashioned a Panorama ‘Bass movement’ that uses pauses and sudden drops. His use of dynamics and drama in the Panorama setting was original and remains a common approach today.”


"Mohammed remembered as ‘eternal’ pan arranger, composer"

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