Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ramon Rahmat Pop Yeh Yeh Sang In Five Languages

Mr Ramon, pop yeah-yeah veteran, had passed away on 10th February, 2015 according to a Malay newspaper report. He was 69 years young. (This is a third death announcement these two weeks.)

Ramon or M. Rahmat as he was called was a professional in every sense. He was one of a few pop 60s music makers who could both sing and actually entertain. Songs he performed would belong to him that magic moment, as he interpreted them in his own way. I used to watch his stage acts many times both in the nightclubs and at the theaters around Singapore.

Whether it was at the National Theater, the Neptune, the Elizabeth Hotel or at a small charity show in a home for the aged, his act was always absorbing, honest and he gave his all. Most importantly he was entertaining and the audience listened since he could sing in French, Spanish and even Japanese.
M. Rahmat started his music journey with a group called TERUNA and his rendition of GADIS DESA, MANHANA and KASEH TAK BERBALAS became hit parade material. The group was soon invited to sing all over Singapore and Malaysia.

In 1967 he sang with THE BLACKJACKS and became Ramon Rahmat. His popularity mushroomed and Mr Ramon had been to Jakarta, Surabaya, Japan and even Pakistan to perform before returning in 1976. Versatility was the key word for our talented man as he rendered jazz and blues in Malay too. In 1972 he even acted in a Malay movie.

THE CANDIDATES had Ramon in the group where they played to capacity crowds at the Kelong in Cathay Restaurant. Two other 'candidates' i remember were Danny Koh and Leo Fernando.
My family and I used to hear Mr Ramon sing at the Elizabeth Hotel with his wife and they were one of the best acts those years. He could go Nat King Cole or Johnny Mathis and provide smooth ballads for the sentimental evenings at the nightspot and touch hearts with his audience singing Lionel Ritchie's, "Endless Love" as a duet. All all this with only a little cassette tape machine as  full music accompaniment.  He spoke quietly, patiently to his audience so as not to upset the quiet ambience and a sophisticated crowd.

 When I met him again it was only a few years ago at a charity concert as we shared the same stage accompanied by the Silver Strings and together with Max Surin, had much fun singing and talking about old times between appearances and afterwards.

We have lost yet another great musician and another 60s pop culture icon. I have a few of his records. Would be great listening to these vinyls again.  Rest well my friend. You deserve that peace now.

"Any day now, any day now, I shall be released..."

 Images: Personal Collection and Berita Harian by Karim Iskandar.


Mr Rainbow said...

Blackjacks original members: David Low, Jason Yang, Alfred Tan, Thomas Poon, Simon Low.

The group line up went through some changes over the years that also included Philip Koh, John Choo and of course Ramon Rahmat, among others.

Chong YL said...

Your blog requires lots of thinking, remembering and reminiscing which 'rejuvenate' your grey cells - thus also your outlook in life?