Picture by – Johann Jayasinha (SNNI) Melbourne, AustraliaExclusive to – (SNNI) In Melbourne
At a function in Melbourne, International events and media correspondent Johann Jayasinha stumbled upon an unique event not repeated since 1970 in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was known then)... there they were, birds of a feather reminiscing about those good old days on stage together with Sri Lankas most celebrated Pop group THE JETLINERS.
Loretta Koch and Alston Koch both held the roost for *THE JETLINERS when they were at their best and were the lead singers along with Mignonne (Rutnam )Fernando, Harris Jurangpathy,Anton Gunawijaya, Roger Menezes & Desmond Schokman.
We know of Alston Koch and his exploits in the international music arena since and we know that *THE JETLINERS were never his only claim to fame but Loretta Koch..
Yes, known as the nightingale of THE JETLINERS when they toured the East and playing the more popular music venues in Sri Lanka such as THE COCONUT GROVE etc etc. What was she doing after all these years ...back in Australia?
Well, she said.. I am here from Marbella Spain where I live now, especially to spend some quality time with my Dad who was a big influence in my singing career. Loretta has 2 children, Amanda & Steven who are in London and 2 beautiful grand children Jack & Olivia...
The Real Story
Loretta Koch quit the Jetliners in 1971 together with Alston Koch, Harris Jurangpathy & Desmond Schokman. They had just returned from a record-breaking tour of India & a sell-out season in the Blow-Up discotheque at the TAJ MAHAL HOTEL in Bombay. It was a nerve shattering blow for a show band band that was hailed as the supreme musical outfit at the time and the Ambassadors of song for Sri Lanka.
Although the band had their changes from time to time this was indeed a severe set-back for the group with 4 members leaving all at the same time. When I asked them for their reasons for leaving The Jetliners they remarked that they had never discussed it before but since the years have now sped past and the group is no more they unanimously believed that the fun aspect & the buzz of working together as a team had diminished.
Loretta made special mention that although she was there through the many changes to the band through the years, the group was at its best according to all that knew them only during that Koch era and that special brand of musicians the Jetliners had at the time.
Loretta left for Australia and decided she was not embracing the stage and its glamorous lifestyle although at the time she was undoubtedly one of the best Sri Lanka had ever produced.
Before joining the Jetliners, Loretta at the age of 14 entered the Maliban Talent Quest and quit the quest before its completion to embrace the arena with the bright lights and her 1st professional performance which was at the Kandy Lake Club. The first song she remembers singing in a beautiful turquoise dress was the evergreen
*Till there was you..
Some of the musicians she has performed with are legends of the music industry in Sri Lanka including Raddy Ferreira, Conrad De Silva & Budrin Musafer who accompanied her at times.
Loretta in her earlier appearances sang with her sister Pauline as a duo & later as the lead singer with her famous Dad & Comedian Extraordinaire *Freddie Koch who was the anchor of the Black & White Minstrel Show that also included Arthur Speldewinde.
It was electronic wizard Bala Namasivayam who introduced her to the Jetliners and she never looked back since.
At this function in Melbourne she was surrounded by her admirers still embracing the memories of her days on stage and the songs she used to sing so well. Loretta had the distinction and the knowledge to pick the right songs which made her the legend we all know and she was appreciated by everyone.
Her exit from the music arenas in 1971 was a void that was never filled.
There is a strong rumour that Loretta might grace the stage on 31st night with Alston again after 37years...and a special CD is on the cards..
We wish her well.