Veteran calypsonian Clifton Ryan, popularly known as “Mighty Bomber,” has died.
Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) general secretary Shirlaine Hendrickson confirmed Ryan’s death but said she had no details.
“All I can say is that he died between last night (Friday) and this morning (Saturday),” she told Sunday Newsday.
Hendrickson, daughter of calypsonian All Rounder (Anthony Hendrickson), said Ryan played a pivotal role in her development as a young entertainer.
She said she often performed backup vocals for him during her early years as a calypsonian.
“Uncle Bomber was like a father figure when we were growing up.”
Hendrickson said Ryan, who was born in Grenada on January 30, 1928, will be remembered for his humorous, cleverly-written calypsos.
“His work has remained relevant throughout the years and could be brought forth to the younger generation.”
TUCO’s North Zone chairman Mark John (Composer) said at 93, Ryan, a former Calypso King monarch, was the oldest living calypsonian.
Describing Ryan as one of the greatest composers in the artform, John said he will be remembered as one of the few men to beat Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) in a competition.
He also regarded Ryan as a mentor, saying his song, Mistaken Identity, was dedicated to the late calypsonian.
“It was essentially a portrait of Bomber.”
John said in the calypso, he sang about a woman who complained about “this man who was bombing up town (Port of Spain).
“But I took her to task and told her in a nice way that I know the history of Bomber. I told her that is mistaken identity.
“You can’t be talking about my Bomber. My Bomber will never plant a bomb and harm nobody.
“That kaiso is a boss kaiso. It will tell you so much about Bomber.”
John, who performs with the Port of Spain-based Klassic Ruso tent, recalled Ryan was one of the headliners at the now-defunct Original Young Brigade tent.
“That is when I was a young fella. Bomber used to come home and pick me up to carry me to the tent. He took a lot of people under his arms.
“As a matter of fact, when we going to south (Trinidad) to sing in the Young Brigade, people like Arrow (Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell) and Becket (Alston Cyrus) used to be in that car with him.”
John said Ryan, regarded as one of the most elegantly dressed entertainers, was responsible for selecting the calypsonians and managing shows at the Original Young Brigade.
He recalled Ryan was also a member of the Sparrow’s Young Brigade and Kitchener’s Revue.
In 2007, Ryan stopped singing calypsos to serve God. He announced his decision at a show hosted by the Vintage Kaiso Brigade at Trinbago car park, opposite Victoria Square, Port of Spain.
In a Newsday interview at that time, he said, “I am now attached to the Pentecostal Ministry as the choir master for the junior choir at the Picton Worship Centre.”
Ryan said, then, he had planned to sing until the age of 80 but changed his mind after having performed in Grenada and Tobago.
“I was just not happy,” he had said of the performances. “That was the sign that told me it was time to move on.”
According to a social media profile, Ryan started performing at the age of 12.
In 1956, he migrated to Trinidad and two years later had a hit song, “Gloria.”
In 1960, he was invited by Sparrow to join the Young Brigade Tent, and in 1964 defeated Sparrow for the crown when he sang two widely popular songs on Dimanche Gras, “Bomber’s Dream” and “James and Joan.”