It is widely thought that steel pan music originated in Laventille, Trinidad, invented by freed African slaves. The tradition of drumming evolved in the mid 1800's when rhythm bands of young men pounded skin drums at ceremonies and carnivals. The use of these drums was outlawed in 1883 as the British feared that secret messages were being passed between drummers. However, the people continued drumming, replacing the banned instruments with tin cans and wooden barrels. By the 1930's metal objects such as pots, pans and tins were used by street bands.
In 1938 Winston "Spree" Simon from Laventille discovered that by hammering out a paint tin from the inside, he could produce different notes and he went on to invent the steel pan we know today.
Steel pan music was introduced to the UK in the late 1950's when it was sent by Trinidad to take part in the Commonwealth celebrations.
The steel pan has been refined and developed and modern steel bands now have up to ten different drums and play a wide variety of music from calypso to jazz, pop to classical.