Lord Invader

Lord Invader (Rupert Westmore Grant; 13 December 1914 – 15 October 1961) was a prominent calypsonian with a very distinctive, gravelly voice.

He was born in San Fernando, Trinidad. He became active in calypso in the mid-1930s, and was considered a country bumpkin by his contemporaries, because of his humble beginning. It was Grant's tailor who gave him his moniker by commenting, "I tell you, Rupert, you should call yourself Lord Invader so when you go up to the city you be invadin' the capital." With a new name, in 1937 he went to the capital city of Port of Spain and began his career in earnest.

He competed in many calypso competitions (including the very first Calypso King competition) and recorded for RCA Bluebird. Lured by Decca Records, he travelled to New York City in 1941 with other calypsonians such as Roaring Lion and Atilla the Hun to make records and promote calypso music. He wrote many calypsos; his most famous lyrics, "Rum and Coca-Cola", were plagiarised by Morey Amsterdam and became a hit for the Andrews Sisters. Invader travelled to New York and sued, eventually winning compensation, although the final settlement allowed Amsterdam to retain his copyright. In the early 1940s, radio stations in the USA refused to play his own version on the grounds of its using the trademarked name, Coca-Cola, and its references to prostitution and alcohol. He stayed in New York for a few years because of the lengthy court case. During his tenure in New York City, he became a fixture in the local calypso scene and recorded many tracks for Moses Asch. Eventually, he won his court case, but did not receive his settlement check for seven years, so he returned to Trinidad in the meantime. He opened a calypso club there and penned and recorded many original songs.

He is often credited with writing "Zombie Jamboree", although the song was actually written by Lord Intruder (Winston O'Conner), who released it on the B-side of his 1953 single "Disaster with Police". It was covered by Conrad Eugene Mauge Jr, who recorded it in 1959 and was also often credited for writing it. The confusion probably stems from the introduction of the version by the Kingston Trio, which mentions "Lord Invader and his Twelve Penetrators". At long last, Invader collected his money from his court case, and began to tour the U.S., later expanding to Britain and Europe. In the last half of 1958, he returned to New York City and continued recording for Moses Asch. He continued to return to his homeland for business and pleasure, although he had, with Wilmoth Houdini, made himself one of America's most successful calypsonians. On 15 October 1961, Lord Invader died at a Brooklyn, New York hospital.

The following discs give a good idea of his work:

  • Calypso in New York (Smithsonian Folkways 40454), released in 2000, is a collection of Invader's recordings across his whole career.
  • Calypso at Midnight and Calypso After Midnight come from a live recording organized by Alan Lomax in New York in 1946.
  • Calypso War, Kings of Calypso, and Trojan Calypso boxed set all feature the same set of songs recorded in the United Kingdom in the 1950s.
  • Folkways Records also have a number of CDs that Invader recorded in the late 1950s in New York, including, Calypso (1955), Calypso Travels, and There's a Brown Boy in the Ring and Other Children's Calypso Songs (1959).

In 1961, Invader released an atypical LP, West Indian Folk Songs for Children (Caedmon Records).

Birth and Death Data: Born December 13th, 1914 (San Fernando), Died October 15th, 1961 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1937 - 1945

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, composer

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 30 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-04640 10-in. 2/7/1937 Joe Louis-Schmeling fight Bert McLean's Jazz Hounds ; Lord Invader Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-04641 10-in. 2/7/1937 Jour ouvert bario Bert McLean's Jazz Hounds ; Lord Invader Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-04643 10-in. 2/7/1937 Sally-Sally Water Bert McLean's Jazz Hounds ; Lord Invader Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble vocalist  
Victor BS-04651 10-in. 2/10/1937 Bastardy Bert McLean's Jazz Hounds ; Lord Invader Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-018899 10-in. 3/3/1938 Joe Louis Lord Invader Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-021012 10-in. before 2/23/1938 Calypso war Growler ; Lord Invader ; Mighty Destroyer ; Roy Rollock Orchestr Male vocal trio, with instrumental ensemble vocalist  
Victor BS-021013 10-in. before 2/23/1938 Mamito at Mon Diablo Beach Lord Invader ; Roy Rollock Orchestr Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-021019 10-in. before 2/23/1938 Bachelor's life Lord Invader ; Roy Rollock Orchestr Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer, vocalist  
Decca 68900 10-in. 4/2/1941 Rate, rate Ray Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 68947 10-in. 4/2/1941 Play the tune on the pianola Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 68975 10-in. 4/2/1941 Hitler's moustache Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 69004 10-in. 4/16/1941 Saga's boy in town Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 69023 10-in. 4/18/1941 Man man tee way tee way Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72877 10-in. 5/21/1945 Small island Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72878 10-in. 5/21/1945 Dock site baby Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72879 10-in. 5/21/1945 The soldiers came and broke up Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72880 10-in. 5/21/1945 Carenage water Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72887 10-in. 5/22/1945 Gold teeth donkey Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72888 10-in. 5/22/1945 Bandy leg Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72889 10-in. 5/22/1945 Turn down Romey Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 72890 10-in. 5/22/1945 Old time cat-o-nine Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 91607 10-in. 1/26/1939 Demasbar Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 91608 10-in. 1/26/1939 Ten thousand to bar me one Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 91655 10-in. 2/6/1939 Don't stop the carnival Rupert Grant vocalist  
Decca 91656 10-in. 2/6/1939 Sophie Bella Rupert Grant vocalist  
(Results 1-25 of 30 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Lord Invader," accessed November 27, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104971.

Lord Invader. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104971.

"Lord Invader." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 27 November 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104971

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