Philmore Gordon Davidson

Philmore “Boots” Davison was born in 1928, East Dry River, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

He became embroilled in steelpans soon after the Second World War. Experimenting with remnants from the War, namely oil drums and biscuit tins, like so many others at the time he stumbled across a new musical sound which became the alternative to Tamboo Bamboo.

Davidson began to develop his tuning skills and in the late 1940s he became a founder member of Casablanca, one of the oldest steelbands in Trinidad. Casablanca is also one of the first steelbands to have made recordings of their music.

His musical skills on the bass led to him being selected to join TAPSO alongside the other gifted steelpan players of the day. After a successful tour and Sterling Betancourt remaining in England, Davidson found himself following in Betancourt’s footsteps.

He arrived in England in 1956 and began to work for British Rail. After several years he made the decision to leave his job in order to concentrate on supporting the steelpan network. He started by teaching pan in schools and in 1980, with some of his fellow Trinidadians, he formed the Mangrove steelband. 

The original band took the form of a traditional steelband, which was common for many of the emerging steelbands, but is now a conventional steel orchestra.

Under his instruction Mangrove was an instant success, gaining first place at the annual UK Panorama competition in 1981. Since then Mangrove has won Panorama several times and is one of the most succeseful steelbands in its history.

Davidson was still teaching pan up to his passing in 1993. His funeral procession was accompanied by three steelbands playing Amazing Grace.