Aldwyn Roberts (18 April 1922 – 11 February 2000), better known by the stage name Lord Kitchener (or “Kitch”), was one of the most internationally famous calypsonians.
He moved to Port of Spain and had his first commercial success in 1942 with the calypso song “Green Fig” (also known as “Mary, I am Tired and Disgusted”). By 1945, he was known as Lord Kitchener. He toured Jamaica for six months in 1947-8 with Lord Beginner (Egbert Moore) and Lord Woodbine (Harold Philips) before they took passage on the Empire Windrush to England in 1948. He found further success in the UK in the 1950s, building a large following in the expatriate communities of the West Indian islands.
- He immortalised the defining moment for many of the West Indian migrants in writing the Victory Calypso with its lyrics “Cricket, Lovely Cricket” to celebrate West Indies cricket team‘s first victory over England in England, in the 2nd Test at Lord’s in June 1950.
- Kitchener returned to Trinidad in 1962. He and the Mighty Sparrow proceeded to dominate the calypso competitions of the sixties and seventies.
- Lord Kitchener won the road march competition ten times between 1965 and 1976, more times than any other calypsonian.
- For 30 years, Kitchener ran his own calypso tent, Calypso Revue, within which he nurtured the talent of many calypsonians. Calypso Rose, David Rudder, Black Stalin and Denyse Plummer are among the many artists who got their start under Kitchener’s tutelage.
“Rum and Coca-Cola” is the title of a popular calypso. Originally composed by Lord Invader and Lionel Belasco, it was copyrighted in the United States by entertainer Morey Amsterdam and became a huge hit in 1945 for the Andrews Sisters, spending ten weeks at the top of Billboard‘s U.S. Pop Singles chart.
Although the song was published in the United States with Amsterdam listed as the lyricist and Jeri Sullavan and Paul Baron as musical composers, the melody had been previously published as the work of Trinidadian calypso composer Lionel Belasco on a song titled “L’Année Passée,” which was in turn based on a folksong from Martinique. The original lyrics to “Rum and Coca-Cola” were written by Rupert Grant, another calypso musician from Trinidad who went by the stage name of Lord Invader. (The true credits for music and lyrics were restored in a plagiarism lawsuit won by attorneyLouis Nizer, the account of which can be read in his book, My Life in Court.)
- During World War II, around 20,000 US GIs were stationed in Trinidad, ostensibly to deter any invasion. Unhappy with the situation, a local musician using the stage name Lord Invader commented on this ‘American social invasion’ in his calypso.
- The song is a ribald expose of the informal prostitution that took place (Both mother and daughter / Workin’ for the Yankee dollar’).
- ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ was both the servicemen’s preferred tipple and a metaphor for the mixing of the two cultures.
- The song was the top single of 1945 in the United States. Despite its popularity, it was controversial and was banned by network radio stations because it mentioned an alcoholic beverage. The fact that it mentioned a commercial product by name also meant that it could be construed as free advertising when broadcast.
- After the release of the Andrews Sisters’ version of “Rum and Coca-Cola”, Belasco and Lord Invader sued for copyright infringement of the song’s music and lyrics, respectively. In 1948, after years of litigation, both plaintiffs won their cases, with Lord Invader receiving an award of $150,000 in owed royalties.