Rudolph Valentino Charles


Rudolph “The Hammer” Charles was a local community leader from Laventille Hill. His contributions to steelpan development as an inventor and tuner have gained him universal respect. 

He joined the West Indian Tobacco Desperadoes Steel Orchestra (Witco Desperadoes or Desperadoes) in 1958 and became band leader from 1961.

Originally called the Gay Desperadoes, Rudolph was influential in changing the band's name due to its then negative connotations. 

Throughout much of his leadership, the Desperadoes were considered to be the greatest band in the world. Rudolph was known for effectively participating in the steelband’s organisation as well as musical direction.   Panorama was at the forefront of this drive as he is quoted Carnival produces strength on the hill”.

His tuning style produced a unique tone and became a part of the Desperadoes signature.

Rudolph was been credited with

Rudolph passed away 29 March 1985, the same day and month that Dr Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, passed away(1981). He was burried in a Chariot Pan and remembered as a man of great talent who used to walk the hills of Laventille with his hammer.

In 1986 David Rudder co-wrote and sang a song dedicated to Rudolph Charles. The song and its album were titled The Hammer. 

The Rudolph Charles Pan Innovation Award was founded to encourage emerging tuners, and is a part of the Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband Music Festival. The bore pan is one of the notable inventions to have emerged form this competition.

In 2005 Destra Garcia paid tribute to Rudolph Charles and her home town with a song entitled Laventille (The Hammer Revisited), a duet with David Rudder.

UK Panorama 2013 - Real Steel reigned supreme with their tune of choice 'Hammer Time', a calypso dedicated to the late Rudolph Charles.

In 2014, Rudolph Charles was posthumously awarded the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for his contribution to culture at the anniversary of Independence National Awards.