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Dangler, Jackie (6th November 1939-Present)

He is a steel pan player born Charles Edward Dangler in Montserrat who  never knew his father as he had died in a torpedo blast in the Atlantic Ocean when he was serving in the British Marchant Navy in 1942.

He heard the steel pans being played for the first time over Christmas in 1948 when he was 9 years old and from then on he would start making his own out of old milk tins and cheese pans and also studied music while at school.

After gaining an understanding of the notes on various pans he became a member of the Rainbow Steel Band in 1949 and in 1950 became the youngest member, at 11 years old, of the Excelsior Steel Band.  During these years he got called Jackie Martin which was from his uncles Jackie and Martin Ryan who were both musicians.  Jackie became his nickname and how he was mainly known after that.

He left school and start working from the time he was 17 years old in various different jobs.  He then worked with the health department where he was part of a team that went out and got rid of mosquitos and their eggs that were responsible for spreading disease.

In 1958 he entered the military after the West Indies Federation formed a new army.  In 1959 he went to Jamaica to undertake his training.  While there he became a certified army medic and he and some of the other soldiers formed the Regiment Steel Band after pans had been shipped over from Trinidad.

In 1962 he returned to Montserrat after the Federation had been dissolved and both Trinidad and Jamaica had gained independence.  That same year he went to Trinidad to help build armed forces for its independence and while there became a member of bands that included West Side Symphony, Valley Harps.

In 1970, during the time of the black power troubles hat were happening on Trinidad,  he was called with the army to help quell the situation, but he was caught between soldiers that had rebelled and attempted a coup and others that had fled.  He ended up being court-martialed for a mutiny he had not been guilty of and sentenced to seven years in prison.

While in prison he had been granted a pan shed where he could refurbish old ones and he put together a 19-man band where he taught the men to play. His sentence was overturned in 1972 and he returned to Montserrat where he studied for his medical recertification and became a nurse in 1974.  He also formed the band Heavenly Organ.

During 1979 he performed on Jimmy Buffett’s 1979 album Volcano and featured on the hit single “Fins” after Jimmy had asked locals if there was a steel pan player who could play on the recording.

When the 1980s came around he went to New York City and at some point taught the steel pan at Brooklyn’s Medger Evers College.  He was ordained by the Ethiopia Orthodox Church in 1985 and worked as a nurse for over 20 years.  He became a Seventh Day Adventist in 2000.

He retired and went back to Montserrat in 2019 although occasionally still plays the steel pans.

Here’s Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins”….