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Caribbean

Published on May 12th, 2015 | by Joan Rampersad - TandT Newsday Newspapers

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Panman ‘Mikey’ remembered

Described as panman extraordinaire, Michael “Mikey” Phillip, passed away May 2, after battling with prostate cancer for the last decade. He was 74. Mikey as he was so fondly called by all, spent his early pan days in Invaders Steel Orchestra back in the 60s.
Ace pannist and arranger Ray Holman, with whom he spent decades in the pan arena told Newsday: “Well Mikey and myself, we go way back to the early 1960s, when we were both in Invaders together with the likes of Ellie Mannette and Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley. And when we started Starlift he came, and eventually became leader of the band around 70/71. Then when they came to Phase II he became leader of the band too.”

Holman stated: “What impressed me about Mikey was that he was a very hard-working person. To me he used to work non- stop. His sole intention was to have the band come out on the road because Carnival was the main thing and he will get all the stands ready, make all the preparations. He was a very level-headed person. He didn’t think about himself, he thought about the band first. I really admired that about him.  “We always had a great relationship and I was lucky to be with him a lot in the last three weeks of his life. I used to go to the hospital every day and spend a lot of time with him. Unfortunately the last three days I couldn’t have gone and that is when he passed. But he was a hard-working, honest, decent, reliable person. If Mikey gave you his word, his word was like gold.”

Last Thursday Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove gave a special “wake” performance in honour of his past at the panyard. They played for Mikey, “Never Can Say Goodbye”, “Love Me Tender”, “I Music”, “Rose”, “Fire Down Below”, “When Will I See You Again?” and Happiness”. Also performing on the night were White Oak Starlift and Sapophonics Ensemble.  Errol “Skerro” Skerrette, manager of Phase II said when the band was formed in August 1972 with teenagers in the band, including Len “Boogsie”, the Carnival of 1973 was when Mikey came across, and because of his experience as captain of Starlift he was made captain of Phase II. Mikey took Phase II to its first Panorama competition. And from then to about a decade ago he was on-and-off captain of Phase II.  Skerrette recalled: “In that early era the captain of a band had to be somebody who would play, tune pans and in many cases the baddest man in the panyard. And I guess in many ways Mikey was all of the above. Notwithstanding that though, he has always been very quiet and unassuming. He tried as far as possible to keep a low profile and in a large measure had been responsible for a lot of the success of Phase II.”

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