One of the many tantalizing subplots in the “Rum and Coca-Cola” saga is the part played by The Roaring Lion and Atilla the Hun, the “publishers” of the souvenir booklet.

This account is not for the casual reader. It wades through a thicket of detail and conjecture. If you just want to know the story of Lord Invader and the Andrews Sisters and the litigation that followed the theft of the song, go back and read "Calypso on Trial" and leave it at that.

To save the reader some time and agony I will give you my conclusion up front: it is my educated guess that Lion and Atilla, having traveled to New York to press their claim in the spring of 1945, received a lump sum payoff to quit the case and go back to Trinidad. The payoff could’ve come from Feist, Inc., the defendant in the lawsuit, but more likely it came from the lawyer Emil Ellis who was preparing to file suit on behalf of Mohamed Khan and Lord Invader. If Lion and Atilla played their cards right, they could’ve received payoffs from both sides. Wherever it came from the payoff probably included a non-disclosure agreement.

Later in life both Lion and Atilla wrote books Lion and Atilla book covers
“Meanwhile a terrific legal battle was in progress as to ownership [of the song]. Invader had no copyright and there is no means of copyrighting kaisos [calypsos] even today. His lawyers appeared to be in a dilemma when by a quirk of providence the problem was solved. Atilla and Lion had been putting out some collections of kaisos in booklet form from the early forties. They had as usual published their booklet in 1943 in which ‘Rum and Coco-cola’ appeared and further they had copyrighted the booklet. Here then was legal proof of ownership which was accepted by the court. After they gave the lawyers the necessary clearances, Invader triumphed and justice was done. There were many other sensational developments in this case but the details are well known today.”
There is no proof of this. The truth has been lost to history. The amount of the payoff will never be known. The only thing that is known for sure, through U.S. immigration records, is that Lion and Atilla arrived in New York on March 14, 1945 on a Pan Am clipper in the company of the mysterious Cecil Voisin.

On that day “Rum and Coca-Cola” was still the #1 most popular song in the United States . . .

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The way Lion remembered it, he met Atilla on a street corner in Port of Spain in 1931. Two years later the two of them found themselves singing in the same calypso tent, the Salada Millionaires Syndicate at 47 Nelson St. But the tent was down in the dumps that year; there was an overall lack of excitement, so Lion and Atilla decided to try something new - singing as a duo. The song was standard fare - a double entendre calypso called “Doggie, Doggie, Look Bone” about a hard-to-please woman from Grenada. But Atilla took it to another level by singing in falsetto as the woman. He may have even dressed as a woman, something that he became known for later. According to Atilla the crowd loved it and the fortunes of the tent were revived.

A bromance was born. For the next twenty years, until Lion moved to Britain in 1951, the two of them stuck together even as tents broke apart, folded and sprang up in different locations.

It was a partnership unique in calypso history. Although calypsonians shared the same background of hardship and disrespect, they were slow to join forces. They were heirs to a tradition of individualism and combativeness. Also the competitive aspect of the calypso format fostered rivalries more often than alliances.

The key to their friendship may have been their contrasting styles - they were no threat to each other. Atilla was light-skinned with straight hair (his father was from Venezuela) while Lion was purely African in appearance, although he claimed to have some Carib Indian blood. Atilla was mild-mannered and something of an intellectual; Lion, on the other hand, boastful and hot-tempered. Also their music was poles apart. Atilla specialized in social commentary and densely plotted lyrics, while Lion’s calypsos were aimed for the most part at the pelvic region.