The Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) has been bestowed the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Currently in Trinidad, the Calypso King of the World will receive the award in his birthplace, Grenada, on October 22, the T&T Guardian has been told.
The holder of the Order of Trinidad & Tobago, this nation’s highest award, achieved in 2014, Sparrow was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Silver) in 1969 and the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 1993. He also received an honorary PhD from the University of the West Indies in 1987.
In 2013, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Government of T&T. In 1977, the government of Nigeria awarded Sparrow with a chieftaincy title and named him Chief Omo Wale of Ikoyi.
Sparrow was born in the fishing village of Grand Roy, Grenada, on July 9, 1935, and his mother brought him to T&T at the age of two. He won his first Calypso King title in 1956, singing Jean and Dinah. He won the title on seven subsequent occasions and the Road March title eight times.
Commenting on his latest achievement, Sparrow said, “This is truly an honour. When I actually receive the award I will then know how I value it in comparison to the other awards I have received.”
Reverting to his usual humorous side, he added, “I doubt that (Prince) Phillip will be flying to Grenada to give me the award. You know when we reach a particular age we cannot be jetting off around the globe as we once did. I guess Phillip is now spending much more time in Buckingham Palace.”
Sparrow’s Phillip My Dear, recorded in 1983, has become one of Sparrow’s most popular and requested calypsoes. Sparrow recorded this song after an incident on July 9, 1982, in which a man managed to climb up to the roof and get into Buckingham Palace for the second time in a month. But that time he also managed to get into Queen Elizabeth II’s bedroom, where the Queen was sleeping alone.
This lapse in security caused a big scandal in Britain at the time, and inspired Sparrow to write a song very loosely based on the event.