NORTH Stars Steel Orchestra have lost their crown as British champions.
The Huddersfield-based band came fourth at the fiercely-competitive UK National Steel Band Championships in London on Saturday night.
Kelvin Benjamin, who helped found the band, had hoped to underscore last year's win with a second victory with the track Music In We Blood.
But that dream was quashed by London favourites Mangrove, who won the contest.
Ebony finished in second place. Both are Notting Hill based.
Kelvin said: "We knew defending our title was going to be harder than winning it. I think we always felt the steel band establishment would never let the title leave London a second time."
He added: "I have nothing but praise for my players. We put together the biggest and best set of musicians North Stars has had in its 28-year history. Clarence Morris arranged a beautiful tune for us and we played it to perfection on the night - I know that from the massive roar of approval we got from the neutrals."
In all, nine bands competed in this year's contest, known as the Panorama.
"We are really very disappointed, as you can imagine," said band development manager Phil Wood.
"But the standard was extremely high."
The competition, now more than 20 years old, has been won only once by a northern band, and just twice by outfits from outside London.
"Obviously the London bands were spurred on by our win last year.
"We felt we were much better than fourth place," said Phil.
The Panorama takes place in a park in Notting Hill and heralds the start of the famous carnival.
When the North Stars first travelled to the competition in the 1980s, they came last.
But, with help from musical arranger Clarence Morris and Fasal Mohammed, head of music at a Trinidad school, the band hit the top last year.