Ezekiel “Biggs” Yearwood was born 12 February 1935 in St Vincent, West Indies.
He came to England in 1965 and settled in east London working for Ford Motor Company.
His steelpan career began after meeting steelpan tutor Gerald Forsyth who inspired him to become involved in the steelpan’s emergence in London. He started to teach steelpans in schools and also performed semi-professionally as the bass player in The Merry Makers steelband.
It was with the Merry Makers that he acquired first hand knowledge of tuning pans by experimentation. He then progressed from teaching to concentrate solely on making and tuning pans. With contacts made during his teaching career and playing semi-professionally, he was able to use this network as a vehicle to establish his work as a pan tuner.
One of his customers, a steelpan teacher from Leeds - Raymond Joseph, struck a great partnership with Yearwood after being invited to London to stay at his home in order to further his career.
In 1988, they teamed up to form the Pantonic Steel Orchestra after being contacted by Anslem Samuel, a youth worker for Hackney Council, who found some disused steelpans. In 1994 and again in 1995 Pantonic was placed second in the annual Panorama Steelpan Competition. Unfortunately Joseph passed away in 1992.
Yearwood, the pan maker was known not only in London but in other towns and cities throughout England. His name was synonymous with acquiring steelpans because of the quality of his instruments and his tuning spoke for itself.
However, because of his unselfish nature, Yearwood began to tutor a new generation of pan tuners. He eventually enlisted his son Grafton, after much persuasion, and he is now an accomplished international steelpan tuner.
Yearwood passed away on 13 September 2007. Word of his family's loss spread throughout the Pan World almost immediately.