"Corbeau (Kobo) Jack," 1960
In New York, USA

In Trinidad, February 2004


DATE OF BIRTH: December 25, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: ..., Trinidad
EDUCATION: Richmond Boys' EC School
  • Invaders (1950s - 1963)
  • Desperadoes (1964 - late 1960s)
  • SPECIALTIES: •  Tuner
    •  Player
    CAREER:                                   Riley began his steelband career in 1952 with the Green Eyes Steelband in Woodbrook. He then joined Renegades where he learned to tune pans and gained his first job in 1954 when he tuned the pans for a Speyside, Tobago, steelband. He then joined the Invaders Steelband where he learned some of the finer techniques of pan-tuning under Ellie Mannette while gaining island-wide recognition for his capabilities as a soloist on the tenor and double-second pans. His unique phrasing and extemporaneous style set a standard that has never been surpassed. By the late-1950s, Riley's name and playing style had become synonymous with the Invaders Steelband, and his virtuoso playing drew crowds of listeners on the road during Carnival. Some of his solo works were captured for history in Invaders' recordings between 1958 and 1963, the most memorable of which were "Liebestraume" (Franz Lizst), "Melody in F" (Anton Rubinstein), and "Outcast" (Mighty Sparrow). Riley moved to the Desperadoes Steelband in 1964 and established a name for himself among the elite pan-tuners. He migrated to New York, USA, by the late-1960s where he continued to tune pans for numerous steelbands.
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit