Lord Invader

Most famous as the composer of "Rum and Coca-Cola," Lord Invader was a popular calypso performer in both his native Trinidad and New York, recording from the late '30s through the early '60s. Born Rupert Westmore Grant, he made his recording debut for RCA Bluebird in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1937, with a song about boxer Joe Louis, and continued to record (for both RCA and Decca) and place in the upper reaches of Trinidadian calypso competitions through the early '40s, when he also began to perform and make recordings in New York City. In Trinidad in September 1943, visiting American comedian Morey Amsterdam heard Lord Invader's "Rum and Coca-Cola" and made it known back in the US, where the Andrews Sisters had a huge hit with the song. Lord Invader sued for plagiarism, the case eventually getting decided in his favor in 1947, although he didn't receive money from the defendants for seven years. "Rum and Coca-Cola," however, was but one of many songs that the singer performed and recorded. As with many other calypso singers of that and other eras, Lord Invader was skilled at devising songs with social and political commentary, as well as singing more conventional lyrics based on romantic situations, or based upon traditional folk songs. From the mid-'40s through the early '60s, he recorded off and on for Moe Asch of Folkways Records, and during that period he was performing and recording in New York, London, and Europe. A compilation of 26 tracks Lord Invader did for Asch -- some with his Calypso Group, some with full and somewhat jazzy bands -- was issued by Smithsonian Folkways in 2000. ~ Richie Unterberger

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