The Mighty Terror

Dubbed "The Golden Voice" in honor of his remarkable baritone, the Mighty Terror was a key exponent of the calypso sound and culture that emerged in Britain in the years following World War II. Born Fitzgerald Henry in Anguilla Village, Trinidad, on January 13, 1921, he studied trumpet as a child and also sang in his church and school choirs. The success of 1947's "Negroes Know Thyself" earned the Mighty Terror an invitation to play the Calypso Palace Tent, and in 1950 he cut his first 78 release, "Changing of the Indian Song." With a growing number of West Indian natives settling in Britain in the wake of the Second World War, Terror found work as a fireman on a transatlantic ship and in 1953 settled in London, working for a pottery company by day while moonlighting with calypso acts like Lord Kitchener and Rupert Nurse in the evenings and on weekends. After scoring a cult hit with 1954's Melodisc release "Chinese Children," the Mighty Terror cut a series of playful follow-ups for the label including "The Emperor of Africa," "Chopping Wood," and the inevitable sequel "Chinee Children Call Me Daddy." In 1956, the Metronome label also assembled the four-song EP Kings of Calypso, Vol. 1, which included fan favorites including "Kitch Cavalcade" (a tribute to Lord Kitchener) and "Patricia Gone with Millicent" (recounting the true story of his wife's abusive relationship with her lesbian lover). The back-to-back success of 1957's "Life in London" and "I'll Walk a Million Miles" earned Terror his greatest commercial notoriety, and he was named "Calypso King of Great Britain" at a charity benefit organized after a series of racist attacks on the West London Afro-Caribbean community. The event later evolved into the annual Notting Hill Carnival. The Mighty Terror spent the next six years on tour with Bert McLean's Trio before returning to Trinidad in 1965. That same year, he shared second place with the Mighty Bomber at the annual National Calypso King contest, and in 1966 claimed the title on the strength of singles like "Last Year's Happiness" and "Keep Calypso Clean," going on to represent Trinidad at Senegal's Festival of Negro Arts. While subsequent records like 1972's "Pan in Tune," 1978's "Madness," and 1986's "Sugar Pan" went largely unnoticed by the world at large, Terror remained an icon at home, and when he fell victim to throat cancer, the National Carnival Commission agreed to cover his hospice expenses. The disease nevertheless claimed his life on March 14, 2007; the Mighty Terror was 86. ~ Jason Ankeny

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