Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Theophilus Phillip, 23 March '26, Princes Town, Trinidad; d 24 Dec. '60, Trinidad) Calypsonian; influential master of humorous and imaginative calypso; led an impoverished bohemian life drenched in rum; regarded as one of the last of a breed for whom composing and performing calypso for pleasure was a lifestyle. After his mother left '31, raised by his father, a railway official; attended Craignes EC School, moved to Princes Town EC School after being involved in a fight. Interested in calypso from early age; worked briefly as a railway porter; disowned by father when he became a calypsonian. Debuted at House of Lords calypso tent '46 with 'What Happened On VJ Day'; founder member of innovative Young Brigade tent '47; sang acclaimed 'Women Police' during '51 Carnival season. Won National Calypso King contest '53 (title renamed Calypso Monarch '78) with 'Royal Wedding' (reprising his '48 hit to mark forthcoming UK Coronation); that year also sang his trademark 'Bedbug', in which he fantasizes about the delights of being reincarnated as an insect; lost crown to Lord Melody '54. Regained King title '55 with 'Picking Sense Out Of Nonsense'; tour of Panama prevented him defending crown '56; was eligible to defend title '57, but placed second to Lord Pretender (Aldric Farrell: b '16, Trinidad) with 'Magistrate Try Himself'. Married '58, becoming stepfather of two children; wife managed to limit his excessive drinking. Joined boycott of National Calypso King competition '59; re-entered '60, reached final with 'Talking Backwards' and 'Fountain Of Youth'; admitted to Port of Spain General Hospital suffering from an alcohol-related disease later that year; died on Christmas Eve after discharging himself against medical advice. Most of calypsos mentioned incl. in collection Unspoilt '95 in Ice's Caribbean Classic Series. A Tribute To The Mighty Spoiler Vols 1 And 2 '96 on Crosby's incl. veterans Bomber (who won Calypso King '64 with 'Tribute To Spoiler'), Blakie, Relator, David Rudder and others performing Spoiler classics live in Port of Spain '94.