Continuing with the series on ex-Princess Elizabeth residents who made a name for themselves in the local and regional music scene, I would introduce to you ....
Moliano Rasmadi and his band Lovehunters.
You will know Moliano if you follow the local rock music scene.
Lovehunters is one of the better known local rock bands and is still performing today.
Moliano grew up in Princess Elizabeth Estate, went to PEES and lived at Blk 12 beside the community centre. His father was one of the garbage collectors who cleaned our estate and kept the grass in trim.
If you lived at P.E.Estate in the 60s or 70s, you will remember an itinerant Malay satay seller who went round the estate carrying his stall on his shoulders. In his free time, Moliano's dad sold satay to supplement his income as a PHD cleaner.
A few days ago, I received an email from Moliano, who had read my blog about the estate, and we started to share the 'old times' about the kampong spirit, mutual friends and the haunted house at Hillview.
Of course, I asked him for some leads that I could write an article about his band Lovehunters.
Today, he came back to me with something even better. He is in the process of writing his autobiography and gave me a preview synopsis of his upcoming book.
What better way to tell you of Moliano and Lovehunters than to hear it straight from him!
So below, courtesy of Moliano, is an exclusive extract from his upcoming autobiography.
A JOURNEY... 'MOLIANO-Rock Guitarist'
Poverty, hardship and difficulties proved not to be obstacles to Moliano’s love and pursuit of music and his ultimate mastery of the guitar. Diligence, dedication and determination, as well as a positive outlook in life, became his ticket to success and advancement in the music industry. “It’s true we cannot live by playing music alone in Singapore, but we can live with music in Singapore.” That is the principle Moliano held on to tenaciously throughout his journey as he strove for success. His ups and downs, beginning from his childhood days, are all chronicled in this novel.
This novel serves not just as an autobiography, but also opens a window to the history of the development of music in Singapore, and the trends and things in vogue at that time. For example, funfairs and expos were commonplace then. The ‘funky chicken’ joget fever was the rage, as were the fashion trends of the hippies, mat rock, and the mat disko. Then there were the ‘bell bozza’ clothes, the wedding practices in Singapore with its buka botol tradition that took place after the wedding ceremony, the ‘resident bands’ at both wedding and birthday parties, the influence of local bands like Sweet n Charity and so on. Below is the synopsis of ‘Moliano…A Journey’.
Since the age of 8, Moliano had been surrounded by people who were into western music. His earliest influence was the Hippies with their Blues rhythms. When Deep Purple burst into the scene and drew a huge following, Rock began to shape Moliano’s music too. Later funk and disco were added to his already vast repertoire and mastery of musical genres.
At this age, Moliano taught himself the guitar by mimicry. He would observe better players, then run home to try out on his brother’s guitar what he just saw. In order to buy his own instrument, he had to work hard by helping his father sell saté. With a large family to support, his father, the sole breadwinner who worked as a cleaner of a housing estate, could ill-afford one for him. That was why the entire family chipped in to prepare the saté which was sold in the evenings. So poor was the family that they had to go barefoot like their father, as even buying slippers was beyond his means. When his father saved up for six months to buy Moliano a cheap guitar, Moliano was overwhelmed by his father’s love for him.
Now, with his very own personal guitar, Moliano was able to practice hard. Lugging his guitar together with his school bag to school every day, he would entertain his friends during recess. His first formal performance was in front of his class when Ms Fernandez invited him to play. From then on, his performances became a daily feature of the class at the end of the school day. His first performance in front of an audience of adults was when, once again, he was invited by Ms Fernandez, this time to a party at her house. It was that day, at age 9, that he made up his mind to be in show business.
His friends the Hippies were all 16 years old and above. Being only 8, Moliano looked up to these boys because they were very good at music. However, the Hippies’ influences were not all positive and Moliano began to smoke ganja even when he was only as young as 9 years old. In the 1960s, the police did not take action against ganja smokers but were more concerned with arresting men with long hair and forcing them to get a haircut. They were bent on eradicating the Hippies culture of keeping long hair. Men with long hair were not entertained at government offices, banks and so on. This social oppression resulted in the Hippies becoming increasingly rebellious and anarchical. Of all his hippie friends, Moliano was closest to Hassan.
Friendship is the major theme of this novel. This is evident in the account of how Moliano and his friends were forced to part ways after their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) at the end of Primary 6. They were all assigned to different secondary schools. Moliano lost his friend Richard suddenly when the latter died in a drowning incident. Moliano faced another abrupt end to a friendship with Salleh when Salleh became a fugitive and was subsequently arrested by the police for murder. All these experiences added to Moliano’s maturity and he grew thankful that music had provided him a path away from a life of vice and crime.
Moliano’s childhood was sprinkled with amusing incidences of his mischief. A rebellious spirit arose within him when he was between 13 and 14 years old, after his religious teacher, the Pak Guru, slapped him publicly for failing a test. Moliano had held fast to his principle of honesty and had failed because he refused to cheat. Reacting to the open humiliation he hurled insults at his teacher and refused to apologise as he believed in standing up for the truth. He also got into other kinds of mischief, like stealing the fares collected by a bus conductor, smoking ganja during recess, playing truant, and even smoking in class. This rebellious spirit turned Moliano into a stubborn but courageous young man who was not afraid to face the consequences of his actions.
Due to Moliano’s flair for music, he found himself standing at a crossroad in secondary 4: to pursue music or to continue school. Despite strong objections and a stern warning from his father, Moliano was determined to prove that he can make it in music, even though he knew his decision would disappoint his father.
Switching from one band to another, Moliano worked hard at realising his dream to be a successful musician. He had to endure bitter experiences, like when his band was unceremoniously dumped on its very first day at a club and was paid a measly $50. That eye opening episode made him even more determined to prove to people that he could succeed one day. When he decided to enter the ‘Battle of The Bands’, his original group of five members dwindled down to three because two members had lost faith in their abilities. Moliano’s band, Lovehunters won second place and a shot at recording an album. From then on, Lovehunters became a household name with a fan base comprising all races of Singapore.
Recollection of his teen years, his National Service, and how he met his wife are also included. Moliano wrote ‘Ku Ukirkan Namamu’ for his beloved wife, long before they were offered the recording contract. It was the song that made Lovehunters famous.
Several controversial issues were examined in this novel. Foremost among them was the issue of long hair. What were Moliano’s views and attitude towards this and what did he do in response? The later part of Moliano’s journey saw him advancing beyond performing and venturing into song writing as well as producing. Now, happily married with wife and children, it is their hope that the documentation of his life journey will become a source of wisdom to the young: Emulate what was good, avoid that which was bad.
“In Singapore, it is a fallacy that owning land gives meaning to one’s life. In Singapore, a man must be bold enough to dream, courageous enough to take a plunge and work towards achieving it with unwavering confidence. In Singapore, it is the pursuit of dreams that gives meaning to life.”
|The recent concert featuring Moliano.|
in a future article, I will write of 2 other music talents from our old estate - Ramli Sarip and Debbie Phua.
Hillview alive with the sound of music!
The Pest Infested
The Blue Stars
The Wrong Note
The estate cleaners