Friday, October 14, 2016

Late King Of Thailand Renowned Jazz Musician

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (1927 - 2016) has passed away on 13th October, 2016. He was 88 years old. 

He had a passion for artistic pursuit and known as a dedicated photographer but more importantly he was The Jazz King and at ten years old learnt to play the clarinet. He was a talented prince and similarly mastered the trumpet and saxophone. 
King of Thailand jams with American jazz greats (US visit 1960). 
From left: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, saxophone; Urbie Green, trombone; Benny Goodman, clarinet, Jonah Jones, trumpet and Gene Krupa, drums (U.S. Information Agency).

In later years he jammed with world renowned musicians like Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Jack Teagarden and Stan Getz.  These artistes were top guns during the 50's and 60's. His influence were Dixieland and New Orleans jazz and he took up music seriously in Lausanne, Switzerland.

King Bhumibol was most popular with his own compositions ranging from jazz, classical waltzes to traditional Thai music. But his forte was mostly jazz swing. By 18 years old he was able to compose songs in earnest and wrote his first called, Candlelight Blues (Saeng Tien), written completely and accordingly to the blues sequence of chords. The chromatic musical scale made possible varied arrangement for orchestral presentation.
When The King Met The King:
The King and Queen of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit met Elvis Presley on the set of GI Blues at Paramount Studios in June 1960. HMK was 32 years old. On the right, Elvis co-star Juliet Prowse. Duke Ellington was present.

His other compositions included, Love At Sundown, Falling Rain, Near Dawn. Falling Rain is familiar with Thai listeners even today. After his crowning in 1946 he continued to compose melodies and his repertoire had titles like, Blue Day, Dream of Love, Love Light in My Heart, Love In Spring, Friday Night Rag, Dream of You and others.
            Candlelight Blues: Music by King Bhumibol of  Thailand. Video from
                                        The Boss1985001

He wrote military marches and patriotic anthems. Writing much for his people he was known as the musical monarch since it was an integral part of his life. According to his biography he had composed nearly eighty songs altogether in five decades with both English and Thai titles.

His compositions had been featured internationally at concerts by famous orchestras like the NHK Band of Japan, the Madrid Classical Orchestra of Spain and on Broadway in New York, USA.  His music was recorded in 2006 on Sony CD (image: cover) and featured Larry Carlton and guests to play them. Some of the numbers are: Lullaby, Magic Beams, When.
Although he was world renowned he had his own band called Wong Lay Krum (Vintage Band) that played in Dusit Palace every Friday. He even had a radio station and as his band members aged he had new replacements to perform over the airwaves. The band was called the Aw Saw Friday Band.

At most local Thai music concerts in the country, King Bhumipol's compositions would be played, even today.

As he loved his music, he loved his people more. May he Rest In Peace.

(This article has been written because of my interest in King Bhumipol as a jazz musician. If there is any misinformation regarding this article, please write in so mistakes can be rectified.)
                                   With Benny Goodman.
Images: Google, etc.

Information from these websites:



Beside being very apt with all the wind instruments, he played the guitar too. Obviously he loved music.


Did the King write the song BUA KHAO? A beautiful melodious haunting Thai song? I remember having to sing it in the 70's. I love that song and I think I can still remember it by heart.
I'm sure he wrote it.

JOEY KOH said...

Music brings joy.

I read about how he bought his first saxophone (2nd hand) with his savings and with his mother's blessings. Very humble despite his position.

I like his answer to rumours that it was a gold saxophone, "It will be too heavy for me to carry."

Mohd Jailani Pianist said...

Yes, he was a jazz musician.

JAN CHEONG said...

I read a short biography of his life on CNA. He did a lot for his people and country. An unselfish and a great man.


I know about him and his saxophone playing. RIP King Bhumibol of Thailand.

The NewNotes Band ever played gigs for the King's son and daughter - the son at The Compass Rose Room on the 72nd floor of the old Westin Stamford, and the daughter at The Thai Embassy Function Room.


chakap chakap said...

The late King of Thailand is perhaps more fondly known to be the King of Swing. He became a jazz enthusiast in his teenage years while living in Switzerland.

Most of his tunes were influenced by his favourite artists like Louis Armstrong and Johnny Hodges of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra.

Earlier, musician Les Brown and His Band of Renown recorded several of the king’s compositions in 1996. The late Mr Brown, who died in 2001, described King Bhumibol and his music in a documentary as, "A superior musician and if he didn’t have the job he has now, he’d be successful as a bandleader."

ELIZA said...

I'm really glad to chance upon your blog today. Thank you for putting up this blog. It allows the younger generation to get to know more about the past... and the good old days...

May I know if you happen to have any photo of the old Lily Cinema which you've mentioned in your blog too? I am really curious how it used to look...

Warmest regards,