REAL NAME: Rafael De Leon (aka Hubert Raphael Charles)
DATE OF BIRTH: February 22, 1908
PLACE OF BIRTH: Caura, Trinidad
CAREER:                                Born to an unwed mother, Lion spent some of his early years in two orphanages before he moved to San Fernando after taking a job at the sugar mill in Usine St. Madeline. He began his singing career in 1927 in Port-of-Spain appearing at the Railway Douglas tent. He was one of a few calypsonians of his era who had any kind of musical training and played the clarinet.
                                                 In the early-1930s, he joined forces with Atilla the Hun (Raymond Quevedo) in opening their own tent. In 1933, he and Atilla The Hun were sent by local merchant Eduardo Sa Gomes to New York, USA, to record calypsoes. In 1940, Lion appeared at the Maginot Line Calypso Tent and, in 1942, moved over to the Victory Tent. In 1947, he switched to the Original Old Brigade Tent and then left for England in 1951 to perform at the Festival of Great Britain.
                                                  After returning to Trinidad in 1963, Lion performed at the Calypso Revue in 1964 and appeared at the Professionals Tent in 1976; he stopped performing by the end of the 1970s. From late-1981 to 1982, he wrote a weekly calypso column for the local newspaper, Evening News, and, in 1985, performed a calypso greeting for Pope John Paul II on his visit to Trinidad. In 1986, his book "Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History" was published. Calypsoes composed and sung by Lion that were later sung by the popular American singer Harry Belafonte were "Mary Ann," "We Come From The Glory," "Tic Tic Tic," "Man Centipede," and "Ugly Woman." His calypsoes include:
  • 1926 - Shango Cult; Send Your Children to The Orphan Home
  • 1932 - Shango
  • 1933 - Soucouyant
  • 1934 - Ugly Woman; Fall of Man; Wanga; Where Is Jonah Gone? (with Atilla the Hun)
  • 1935 - Dingolay Oh
  • 1936 - Advantage Mussolini; Ask No Question
  • 1937 - Netty, Netty; Sally Sally Water
  • 1938 - Guests of Rudy Vallee (with Atilla the Hun); No Nora Darling
  • 1940 - Poland, Poland; Mr. Neville Chamberlain; The Rise of The British Empire
  • 1941 - Whoopsin; Pappa Chunks
  • 1942 - Olga and The Catfish
  • 1943 - The Governor Say No Mas
  • 1944 - The Soldiers and The Mopsies of Pam Palam
  • 1945 - Mary Ann; Turn Around Girl; Royal Carnival; Dorothy Went To Bathe
  • 1946 - Intermediate Sex; Cavalcade of Songs
  • 1947 - Little Mary Has No Lamb; Deleon; Shouterism
  • 1948 - The Lost Watch
  • 1949 - Chanka Maharaj's Election; My Experiences as A Soldier
  • 1950 - The English Language
  • 1969 - Side; If
  • 1971 - Tribute to George Bailey; Children's Games
  • 1972 - Formula for Nationhood; Trinidad Carnival
  • 1976 - Hopney Rice
  • Also - Six Feet of Earth; Jouvert Barrio; I Ain't Gonna Do It No More; I Am Going to Buy A Bungalow; Vitalogy; It's A Sin to Tell A Lie; Tina; Love Thy Neighbour; Ba Boo La La; Bargee Pelauri; Three Cheers for The Red, White, and Blue; The Death of King George VI; Land of Calypso; Out De Fire; I Can Make More Love Than Romeo; Caroline; Bamsi Lambay; Old Lady Run A Mile and A Half; Ask No Questions; Saga Boy; Donkey; It's The Rhythm We Want; Happy Land of Canaan; Four Mills Brothers; The Vender's Song; Bing Crosby; Some Girl Something; War (with King Radio and Growling Tiger); We Ain't Fraid Nobody (with King Radio); Monkey (with King Radio and Growling Tiger); Malicious Neighbours; Death; Where Is My Sister This Morning?; Africa War Call; I Will String Along With You (with Atilla the Hun); Modern Times (with Atilla the Hun)
  • 1981 - Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Silver (for Culture)
  • 1994 - Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Gold (for Culture)
DIED: July 11, 1999, in Mt. Lambert, Trinidad
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit