Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sudirman In Memory

Today marks the 19th year that the late great Sudirman Haji Arshad has left us. I was watching the tribute on Malaysia Hari Ini earlier this morning and I have to say that it touched me more than I thought it would.

Personally, it took me a while to be a fan of Sudirman simply because when I was growing up, the people around me thought he, well, sucked. “Macam kera kena belacan”, was the phrase often used to describe him.

But looking back now, I can only say that Sudirman was a man ahead of his time. He stood out not only because of his unique voice and over-the-top showmanship, but he was a true visionary, and a patriot.

Think about his mega concert at Chow Kit Road. That was simply genius. Here’s an entertainer who knew who his audience was, and gave them something to remember for their rest of their lives. And he did it while flying the Malaysian flag high and proud.

Watching clips of his performances, it’s evident that Sudirman really thought about his performances; everything is choreographed and executed to please his audience. I used to laugh at his colourful costumes, but that was all part of his act that has made him irreplaceable.

Music wise, he never ceased to innovate. In fact, the first album of his that I bought, “Kul It”, I bought it because he had Hillary Ng of Search playing the guitar for most the songs. It was a great touch as suddenly Sudirman had a more rock-ish sound, which he also projected through a fresh new image then.

The fact that he was a qualified lawyer also made him the source of inspiration for many who wanted to grow up and “nak jadi macam Sudirman”. And if you remember, he was also the first entertainer to come up with his own cola drink called “Sudi”. I regret now that I never had a taste of it.

I am not going to mention the awards and hit songs he chalked up during his 16-year career ‘cos the list is a pretty long one. But the question is: how much of his music and achievements does the current generation actually know? Has the tributes and posthumous recognition been enough for someone that for a while, carried the entire local entertainment industry on his shoulder?


(This post was originally published in gua.com.my a couple of years ago)

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