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Lord Woodbine


Harold Phillips, the Trinidad-born pan player and concert promoter was best known as Lord Woodbine, after the cigarettes that he chain-smoked.

He was born in Lavantille, Trinidad in 1928, and arrived in England aboard the Empire Windrush in June 1948. He quickly took up residence in Liverpool, believing that this city held the best prospects for his success.

He opened his own nightclub, called the Colony Club, and soon became widely known for his use of a cutlass to tame his rowdy patrons; it was said that the flash of Woodbine's 'gilipin' was always enough to restore peace to the dancehall.

Woodbine also founded the Royal Caribbean Steel Orchestra, the first steel orchestra formed in England. Woodbine's steel band played all over Liverpool, always followed by a posse of loyal fans, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who both loved steel band music. Lennon would often take his guitar to the pan concerts so he could jam with 'Woody'.

Lennon, McCartney and their band, the Silver Beetles often played at Woodbine's club. Woody liked their music, and so when German cabaret owner Bruno Koshminder called to ask Woodbine for a 'good British band', he picked the Beatles, and went on to drive the then five man group (Lennon McCartney, Pete Best, Stuart Sutcliffe and George Harrison) from the Netherlands to Germany in a 'mash up' Volkswagen van. This is how the Hamburg concert happened, and Lord Woodbine played a part in facilitating it. Tragically, Lord Woodbine was killed in a house fire in Liverpool in 2000, aged 72.

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