Monday, September 10, 2012

Streets of Colombo

Sunday Times Sep 9 2012

On a road less travelled

With new street names replacing old ones in Colombo , Frederick Medis takes us on an illuminating historical journey as he talks to Kumudini Hettiarachchi
View(s): 810

What’s in a name, asked the Bard but for octogenarian Frederick Medis who has pored over books and documents and trod down dusty streets all his life, everything is in a name. It is, however, not the Bard he picks on but Lord Byron not only to indicate how the tree-lined Horton Place got its name but also the family issues and the poetry behind it all.

A picture from the past: Eye Hospital Junction as it was then
Sir Robert Wilmot was a British Governor of Ceylon who when he married was told in no uncertain terms by his father-in-law that he would have to take on a double-barrel surname if he wished to keep the inheritance bequeathed on him, the Sunday Times learns during a lengthy chat with Mr. Medis.
This is how the Governor, after his nuptials, became Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, adding his wife Anne’s surname and ultimately lending that name to the road in the heart of Cinnamon Gardens . But according to Mr. Medis, the story does not end there, for the cousin of the Governor’s wife was none other than the celebrated poet-Lord Byron who wrote the famous ‘She walks in beauty like the night’ as a tribute to her, after seeing her in a black gown.
Easily and from memory, names, dates and trivia roll off the tongue of 87-year-old Mr. Medis, not only during the interview with the Sunday Times on Wednesday but also during a talk on ‘An anecdotal survey of street and place names’ organised by the National Trust — Sri Lanka before a large crowd at the HNB auditorium on August 30.
From poetry, Mr. Medis dabbles in the politics of the British period in Sri Lanka and talks of the wielder of the powerful pen, Irishman Dr. Christopher Elliott, adding as an aside that the name-board of the road dedicated to him is spelt wrong. Generous Dr. Elliott who lived in Borella and was the Editor of the Colombo Observer not only carried out a campaign against the many taxes, dog and gun included, that the British imposed but also incited mobs to protest against British rule.
“He refused to pay the dog tax and addressed large crowds of locals, both in English and Sinhala, from a makeshift platform,” says Mr. Medis, going on to detail the drastic consequences of his actions.
It was July 26, 1848. Rattled by a big demonstration that Dr. Elliott organised, the full strength of the British troops, both infantry and cavalry, descended on Borella from Pettah and Maradana to quell the disturbance. The mob retaliated and the British opened fire leaving many people dead. Martial Law having been declared in the colony of Ceylon , it was across the oceans that the administration running the mighty British Empire was under pressure, the Sunday Times learns.
“Questions were raised in the British Parliament, with serious implications that Prime Minister Lord John Russell had appointed his close relative, Lord Torrington, as Governor. This being construed as an act of nepotism, not only were Torrington and other high officials recalled from Ceylon but the British Cabinet was also dissolved,” says Mr. Medis.

Frederick Medis. Pic by Athula Devapriya

Next he creates the startling image of the Beira being a huge swamp from the Kelani Ganga through Borella, Dematagodawatte to Kolonnawa. When wind-whipped torrential monsoon rains lashed the area, a turbulent mass of water, ‘bora-ela’(later turning the area to Borella), would surge through this area, downwards to Narahenpita ending in a slimy swamp, where wild elephants which came from the Deduru Oya jungles along the Kelani Ganga disappeared in the bog, according to Mr. Medis.

There is a belief, he points out, that the original name was ‘na rahathpitiya’ in Sinhala, with ‘na’ being elephant, thus indicating that the area was “where the elephants disappeared”.

The turgid waters would then move onto Nawala which was a dense forest, Kotte having been abandoned after the shooting of Buvaneka Bahu, Mr. Medis elaborates. The Dutch historian, Valentine, later mentions that the area became a “howling wilderness where even elephants were kraaled”. Passing Nawala, the waters flowed to the Diyawanna Oya, past Pagoda (parll-goda, the terminus for padda boats).

Did you know that there was an elephant corridor in these areas in those days, asks Mr. Medis, linking up Nawala, Nawinna (nahinna) where there was a scrubland with elephants, to Padukka, Sinharaja forest and south to Panamure. “This proves conclusively that there was an elephant corridor.”

Back in the environs of Cinnamon Gardens, he points out that Rosmead Place is named after Sir Hercules Robinson who was Marquis of Rosmead; Guildford Crescent after the first British Governor of Ceylon, Frederick North who was Earl of Guildford; and Stanmore Crescent after Sir Arthur Gordon who was Lord Stanmore.
Without taking them at face value, this lover of antiquities has gone not one step but many leaps into history to unveil the little secrets and stories behind 900 place-names across the country. It had been while he was studying at St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4, that Mr. Medis immersed himself in this interesting subject, for his father was an antiquarian. “My father had a private museum in our home at Nugegoda,” he says, adding that the pieces included mainly bronzes, porcelain and ivories.

Back to his favourite topic, ‘ Colombo ’ or ‘Kolontota’ gets a long explanation from Mr. Medis.
The Fort area had a mango tree with only leaves but no fruit, which resulted in ‘Kola Amba’ which the Dutch engraved on their Wapen (heraldic emblem). “Not fully satisfied, the Dutch put a double pun or cant by introducing a dove for which the Latin usage by the Dutch was ‘Columba’. His fascination with place names engulfs those around him, as he picks out Bagatalle Road.

“Bagatelle” means “next to nothing”, he says, pointing out that it was the Italian name for a board game which was played for a pittance. During the weekends, menfolk would gather in a house in that area, swig beer and play this game. “It was a slanting board game like billiards where little balls were pushed around with a rod in attempts to strike some pins. Later the name had been Sinhalised.”

Next under the magnifying glass is Milagiriya in Colombo 4. Originally there had been the Portuguese church ‘Nossa Senora dos Milagres’ (Our Lady of Miracles), which when the Dutch ruled turned into a Dutch Reformed establishment along with a Sinhala school. The Headmaster was a local by the name of Jacinto Graro who was also a Tombu-keeper or Registrar of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths. The family history follows. Graro’s wife was Nona Baba and their daughter was baptised as Wirithamullage Dona Isabella Cornelia Perumal who later achieved fame as Gajaman Nona, the Poetess of Matara.

Colombo in Dutch times also had a maze of streets and cross streets, he says, zeroing-in on Main Street which was Koning Straat (street) or King’s Street. There was also Prince Street named after a Prince of Orange in Holland.

Referring to “hybrids”, Mr. Medis brings into focus Malwatte Road , which his research has shown had nothing to do with flowers. ‘Mall’ is market in Dutch while ‘watte’ is garden, resulting in the Dutch-Sinhala hybrid of ‘Market garden’.

Sedawatte on the outskirts of Colombo is a Portuguese-Sinhala hybrid, he says, explaining that ‘seda’ in Portuguese means silk. The Portuguese intended to have sericulture in the area by cultivating mulberry with imported Chinese labour. Although the mulberry plantations misfired, the name stuck. Even the Dutch called silk ‘soida’.

Maliban Street next to Malwatte Street stems from the Dutch ‘mall’ meaning market and ‘bahn’ meaning road, while Bankshall Street in Porutguese times was packed with storehouses with cinnamon, spices and other products and was actually ‘Bankershala’, a hall or store house. The Colombo harbour area in those days was dangerous for navigation, so ‘East Indiamen’, their ships, called at these warehouses from the north of Colombo during non-monsoon times. That’s why Mutwal is Modera or ‘muva dora’ which is the gateway, mentioned in the maps of Claudius Ptolemy while Colombo is shown as Jovis Extremum (the farthest point) or the Cape of Jupiter, named after Jovis (Jupiter), the father of the Roman gods.

In the vicinity of Bankshall Street in the time of the Dutch was Visschers Straat where the fish market was, says Mr. Medis accepting as a matter of fact that he knows a “little Latin, Greek and Pali’, pointing out that ‘v’ is ‘f’ in Dutch.

The clock-tower in the area was built in British times by philanthropist Framjee Bhikajee Khan after whom it takes its name.

Dispelling the notion that Pettah or Pita Kotuwa is Sinhala, he says that during his numerous journeys abroad he has come across Pettahs not only in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata in India but also in Kingston , Jamaica . For the Dutch the Pettah had been Oude Stadt or Old City . Making a quick detour to Fort, he says a certain point had been referred to as ‘Galle Facio’ or looking towards Galle, while some records indicate that Kollupitiya was known as ‘Konupitiya’ where there were many coffee mills in early British times and Polwatte as Wassermandorpen or washermen (dhobi) quarter by the Dutch.

During the Dutch occupation, Koning Straat was a well-maintained road leading to St. John’s river, now St. John’s Road , with drawbridge and all. It was to St. John’s river that the broad drains brought not only the waste but also the swill from the city which in turn lured the crocodiles (kayman) which gathered and fed there, giving the name Kayman Poorten (gate), he says.

Close-by is the bell-tower erected by the Dutch who in their anger against the Portuguese demolished a church in Kotte and installed that bell here. Mr. Medis transports us back in time when entire Dutch families in their Sunday best – breeches, pantaloons, top hats, bonnets and crinoline dresses — would congregate along with their children and African slaves carrying the heavy Bible boxes and smelling salts, at the church at Wolfendhal.
The Dutch manifested their hatred towards the Portuguese in many ways, he says, explaining that this church under the Portuguese was Roman Catholic and known as ‘Nossa Senora de Guadaloupe’ (Our Lady of Guadaloupe). Using the Biblical injunction, “Be not like wolves in sheep’s clothing”, the Dutch mysteriously altered Guadaloupe to Aguadaloupe which means valley or ravine of wolves in Latin which ultimately became Wolvendhal, he adds.

There is an interesting tale about slaves that Mr. Medis weaves in. Having brought both men and women from slave-markets in East Africa and Mozambique , they served Dutch homes and enterprises. But one night when a slave murdered the entire family, most probably on Maliban Street , a Plakaart (proclamation) was issued, enjoining that all slaves should be taken at sundown by pontoons to the island on the Beira , released there, picked up at sunrise and taken back to the households on the mainland. The embarkation point was close to Philip Neri’s Church and the disembarkation point New Ferry Lane at Slave Island . Close-by was also Kafir Lane , smiles Mr. Medis, also known as Kapiri Mudukkuwa.

Hindu-Saracenic architecture at the Eye Hospital junction.
It is from slaves to mews that he goes next, stressing that Mews Lane had nothing to do with cats or kittens but was the place where the Dutch stables were for horses, carriages and horse-traps. Kew Road , of course was where the British established Ceylon ’s first botanical gardens with help from the curators of Kew Gardens back in England .

Ginthupitiya becomes Mr. Medis’s final entry for the day. Here was a Persian-Nestorian Church which later became a Portuguese church dedicated to St. Thome in San Thompiddi. This church is believed to be one of the oldest in Asia . But the matter of interest lies in the churchyard which held three s
eparate graveyards – for Catholics, converts and slaves or non-believers.
The non-believers were Gentiles and over time the area metamorphosed into Ginthupitiya, says Mr. Medis, as we reluctantly end the interview and bid him goodbye.

He, however, holds out a promise for those fascinated by place and road names – a book by this repository of knowledge may be in the pipeline under the auspices of the National Trust.

In memory of George Wall
The beautiful Wall monument with the Hindu-Saracenic architecture at the Eye Hospital junction hub was gifted by the grateful people of Sri Lanka in memory of George Wall, a pioneer member of the Colombo Municipal Council, points out Mr. Medis, explaining that he was an outstanding figure in the plantation trade.
It is very distressing, however, to see a monument of national importance being leased out to a private organisation, which blatantly displays its name he laments.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Musical Ramblings on FB

Extracted From Clarantha Perera's posts on several FB Pages related to Sri Lankan Music, Radio Ceylon, 50 60's Music & The Swining 60's, Groups since the 1950's

Jan 23 2012

Ya, I remember Siri Perera who used to perform his acts in between, at Ceylinco's sundown dances, and I beleive he's known as Singapore Siri ?. It was the time that, Gabo & The Breakaways and The Pioneers used to play regularly at the 10th floor, Ceylinco. Remember one time he got on the stage & he goes with mic in his hands,"I'm gonna show you how a girl would walk on high heels for the very first time" then he goes down to the dance floor while Gabo or Pioneers, provide background music for his acts.It's funny & he keeps the crowd entertained with a couple of songs as well, he was a great entertainer in the early '70s.There was another guy who used to perform similar acts during dances, his stage name's 'Spiro',he's like a magician too.Then there's Steve Wallace the man who provided many pretty girls for many sundowns as Cabaret artists, including famous names like Fareena Lye.I wonder where they are now. Great times & Good memories.

Clarantha Perera: Thank you Ravi , - The late Siri Perera once sang with The Quests - whom I rate as one of Asia's top most bands of the mid '60's ..- Two of his cousins - who played for Singaporean Bands are members of this page....they are Ranjit Dias & Victor De Siva....

Ranjit Dias: Thanks Clarantha. Siri Aiya was not a related cousin of mine but a "cousin" as all Sinhalese refer to their very dearest family friends. The same goes for the late Rupananda Perera (Siri's brother), Victor De Silva and his brothers & sisters, with whom I have a family-like relationship. My first Sinhala singing lessons were given to me by my late parents and then by Siri & Nanda Aiya. How can I forget??

Jun 27 2012 - Ravi Jinadasa wrote:

In show Biz, no matter where, there's always unsung heroes.. Behind every Band, Singer or The goes back beyond the 60's..Beginning from the mid 1940's where Sri Lankan Band scene.. Believed to be best era, when Donovan Andrew got involved promoting our Music industry to a level we've never seen before since our Bands had stiff competitions facing foreign Bands..Donovan often had to import to please the expatriates ... as a result the local bands had no choice, they had stiff challenges on their hands in order to survive in the show Biz world..Fortunately it was an era when majority could afford a Musical Instrument go for some lessons & get on the stage..However came the 60's & the 70's when our country's economy went hay wire.. So the next generation of the Music world were all no haves... In other words non of them could afford to own a crappy box Guitar, but they all got on the Band stand & who came to their rescue?? People like Mr. Johnney Williams ( Harmonics) he had 3 studios in his house in Bamba, Rs. 10.00 per hour..I remember our band hanging around with our hat collection to book our time (2hrs.) and when we go home & come back until a week or two, guaranteed that we'll never see an instrument until we hit Mr. William's studio..we all had stiff auditions above all for us as enormous challengers to over come to find us a place to be on that Band stand..Now a days it's a piece of cake..Mr. Johnney William's considered as an affluent Businessman to whom we all owe him.. Immense gratitude for coming to help us out to make our humble dreams come true..However I'll not hesitate to mention others on line who also contributed just like Mr. Williams...many like us ..may remember Mr. Vasu-Baseline road Borella, Mr. Orggie Ranaweera & his Bro Mr. Eardley Ranaweera to name a few..Whose names ,I just happened to retrieve out of my brain..not to forget Mr. Malcolm Andrew who did a lot to promote Band scene and Steve Wallece.. Providing the Cabret Artists, Go Go girls and various performers to the Night clubs ..They had to survive too..Right?? so the list goes on & on & on..and I'm trying to recall Mr. William's sound man Mr. Simon, we used to address hi as Simon Aiya,..he was there always, rain or shine, a part time Musician facing all odds, we managed to get over all the hurdles to Play Gigs at CAPPRI CLUB, CEYLINCO, GOLDEN TOPAZ, CEYLON INNS,SINDY CLUB, and many weddings, corporate functions name it we were there, in our Drain Pipes, Beatle Boots , Long or Afro hair.. I'm proud that we made it good amidst all odds. The above pc. of History was prompted after seeing a massage by Clarantha.. so in differing terms he instigated this ...sounding a bit agitated & pissed off over something about Radio Ceylon and while writing this ,he was constantly..disrupting me..& pissed me off for a while trying to navigate..thanks for that...the above article's truly dedicated to people who really supported us to achieve our goals...& you'll never see these stuff in Google my friends they 'r strictly out of my recollections, heard & read article's and out of assumptions too...however it's all Part of History of Sri Lankan Swinging 60's & 70's..Enjoy FB Pals...

July 3 2012 - Kumar Molligida responded:

Thanks Ravi ,but if I were t o talk about my beginnings and my progress through the years it

 would take pages and pages This is my 53rd consecutive year in music with 52 consecutiv

New Years Eve performances here as well as abroad.I believe that this is a record for a local 

musician and one that is very unlikely to be equalled as all the other senior musicians are 

gone and to my knowledge none of them had achieved this as they had either given up for 

short spells or were without a booking on new years eve, Just as you went through some 

turbulence at the start my start was even more spectacular because in 1958 things were even 

more primitive than at the time you were rehearsing at Johnny Williams' Galle road 

residence at Bamba, Having started on Chromatic harmonica then switching to vocals and 

then to jazz guitar and then onto Tenor sax and congas ,[yes ,I had my own Congas in 1967 ] 

and then to Alto sax ,Soprano sax and finally to Baritone sax ,

I've played with all the senior dance band musicians and all the leading pop musicians of the 60s,I've lead my own bands with musicians such as Raja Jalaldeen, Junior Weerasinghe,

 Cecil Rodrigo, Desmond Schockman and classy female vocalists as Larraine Graham.

However my experiences would make interesting reading as there are lots of facts many are 

unaware of such as the fact that I was asked to come to Singapore to play with a leading local pop group who were in Singapore in 69-70 .I never talk about this and the person who 

acted as the contact ,that is Auggy is no more . Sometimes Junior may remember this as he was in my band at that time as well as Rajah. But I think I could do it by dealing with various episodes one at a time.For example I could talk about the Harmonica days and then the vocal days and then the box guitar days and so on.Shall wait for your suggestion.Bye.

Stanley Mayadunne responded:

Ravi Jinadasa posted:

Kumar Molligoda posted:

Well what a coincidence.The first New Years booking for my newly formed band The 
Boeings was at the Capri in1967.I had played there earlier for New Year with Owen De 

Abrew .Srinath Sirimanne and of all people the late Vernon Corea alternating on piano.The way I got that booking is a story by itself and to be brief it was late Tita Nathaniellsz who 

booked me even though another ban d had been already booked .There are friends as well as jealous foes who would obstruct your path in the musical field. I nearly missed out on a New 

Year eve engagement a few years ago and then my unbroken sequence would have been destroyed .Can you imagine how you would feel if a BAND LEADER who had booked you for the 31st tells you on 27th December afternoon that he does not want you on 31st.Well it 

happened to me .It was a calculated move as this BAND LEADER felt that I should not be 

more recognised than him .I had been booked by him as far back as in July.When it

happened I was not too bothered as there were several others who wanted me on 31st.I 

called Debbie and told her about my situation Her father EARLE ARNOLDA called me and 

promised to get back to me later He called me at night and asked me to play with Debbie at 

the Taprobane Hotel on 31st and my sequence was left intact.Being in this business for 53 

years has never been a bed of roses all the way. Incidentally, that New Year's booking at the 

Taprobane was the 3rd consecutive booking with Debbie at that venue.

happened I was not too bothered as there were several others who wanted me on 31st.I 

called Debbie and told her about my situation Her father EARLE ARNOLDA called me and 

promised to get back to me later He called me at night and asked me to play with Debbie at 

the Taprobane Hotel on 31st and my sequence was left intact.Being in this business for 53 

years has never been a bed of roses all the way. Incidentally, that New Year's booking at the 

Taprobane was the 3rd consecutive booking with Debbie at that venue.

July 4 2012 

Jude wrote:

It's all interesting reading, but haven't we forgotten some big names in the music scene at 

that era like Tony Fernando and Marcey Perera of Jetliners and Spitfires fame, then Bobby 

Arnolda. I think all of them did yeomen service to the music industry. Also we must not 

forget the huge contribution Kumar Navaratnam made to popularize Rock Music in Sri 


 Kumar,going through your posting.. you really made me.. totally amazed...all the 

accomplishments that you achieved during those long years in show made me feel ,as 

if... it's an accomplishment for me personally 'cause I instigated you to do so..52 consecutive 

New Years..? Musician's vocabulary.. only Band guys may understand how 

hard it's to get an opportunity to perform , on New Year's Eve.., considering the amount of 

night Clubs available at that time.. at first I was kind of reluctant to bring up the memories 

of drop out as it may bring you sort of regreats to your I think that 

you'v achieved more than an interlectual may've accomplished over time...however,seeing 

how well you'varticulated the above post, vividly describes how.. interlectual you are...I 

really appreciate your time & effort for doing this take your time & we would 

like to know more and I urge you to do so..pls. I thought for me it was a major 

accomplishment ..when my band got our 1st New Year's Eve gig at Capri Club in 1974 ..52 

times ?? absolutely phenomenal...

Tony Fernando and Marcy Perera were involved with their bands but Earle Arnolda was 

involved in promoting several bands through his Agency B A Entertainments as well as The 

Fireflies and my band The Boeings .Of course Kumar Navaratnam deserves special mention 

as the Pioneer in Rock Concerts It was through such concerts that we heard of such bands as Wall Band and Gun Chorus and Gobbledygook and Sweetie Pie and Kumar's own Buggs. 

The last time Kumar performed was in 96 or so when he put together a group after coming 

down from the States The members were Kumar, Musty,Jehan and myself and a keyboardist whom I cannot remember.We did a set at the JU session at CH&FC.Kumar 

paid me from his own pocket The repertoire included a smooth jazz number LAY IT ON 

THE LINE by Sam Riney featuring me on sax.I think no one here has heard of Sam Riney.

I used to carry Debbie as a little infant baby, how time flies!!!! Interesting story Kumar and I am amazed at your longevity in the music business in Sri Lanka!!!!

Thank you Clarantha for your kind sentiments,,yes I remember sometime back how I bumped on to you while on a search looking for srilankan bands for a long time & specially finding The Savages..some search engines directing me towards some naked people in some place in a jungle they looked savaged alright..but not the ones that i was looking for.. anyway it seems like slowly.I'm . beginning to see what i really was anticipating when ever I write something about srilankan Bands.. their feedback as if to encourage posting their own experiences about the srilankan Rock History.... really pleased to see Kumar Molligoda's commitment towards promoting the cause of Pop/Rock music of a big way with his amazing postings..thanks again...

Hello Evan.Nice to hear from you.I used to watch Debbie grow up as I visited Earle' s place very often first as a member of The Fire flies and later when Earle was the promoter of my own band .When Debbie began performing I played with her for quite sometime and she joins me when I need a pianist.I still refer to her as LITTLE DEBBIE though she is now far removed from the state of being little .One of the finest females in music and one of the most talented performers on keyboards .being one of the very few who can play on the electric organ with Bass pedals. She can easily put to shamemost of those guys masquerading as Pianists and Keyboard Players in our groups as well as 5 star hotels .BTW I had no success with the search for Raj's Teisco guitar.All the best.

Hi Kumar Samuel, thank you for the comment posted and I'm pleased that you still remember these people..&. all the musical instruments that you mean the Tea ChestBass.? Mouth organ..and Harmonicas..that's how we all started right?good stuff & love to hear more from you guys..thanks again & keep posting..

Jude Goonewardene posted:
 Has anyone of you dealt with Milton Fernando of Gampaha, brother of Tennyson Fernando? Milton was trained in Germany and he owned Miltones, who manufactured guitars and some other musical instruments ?

Hello Jude. I think you are way off the mark.Tennyson is not the brother of Milton.Tennyson is the son.It was Tennyson who was trained in Germany at Keilworth & Co.Sadly he passed away about six years ago They were originally from Gampaha but they opened a shop in Wellawatte around 1960 .I took Rajah Jalaldeens father to that shop to buy the first box guitar for Rajah to start his guitar lessons.Later they had a shop in Times building Fort.Tennyson opened his own shop in Dehiwela and later at Kalubowila Tennyson was a good manufacturer and repairer of guitars .My custom built electric guitar was re-fretted and re-painted by Tennyson .Billy Fernando is Tennysons son .Tennyson was my good friend..

Hello Kumar, Thanks for correcting. You are right I was way off the mark. During my childhood I used to go past their factory in Indigolla on the way to St. Jude's church with my parents. That is how I remember Miltones. Sadly the factory is no more. My mother taught Joyce who I believe is Tennyson's sister and Milton's daughter, at Holy Cross Gampaha. I still have an acqustic guitar in SL made by Miltones. I have met Tennyson at his Wellawatte shop in the 90s, when he restored a warped fret board of a guitar for my brother ( we are not pros). I was saddned to hear the demise of Tennyson. It is very sad indeed to see the demise of some of the other talented people and organizations such as Harmonics etc which were part of the society that we grew up with. Do you know if Children's Bookshop still exist ? Thanks again Kumar.

Aug 27 2012

Jisty Careem: I felt the need to mention bandsmen/musicians who were NOT SPOTLIGHTED as perhaps others...and thats no fault of anybody, but merely to MENTION .... of having been there with all these musicians who were around..yeah AROUND all the time...60's 70's..and hardly "noticed" except BY perhaps fellow muso's who constantly met at gigs...the name most suitable name for this type of muso aggregation ought to have been AHHINDHAS.... the type of gigs that did not attract and warrant ANY publicity...but we were there, playing at well paid gigs ..more often..( a lot of weddings,engagements, anniversaries, birthday parties, and parties without name....and these 'bookings' came from buddhists,christians,muslims,singhalese,tamils,malays...the best part of this experience was that a.a. yeah..A musician..unattached musician 'filled' the slot for the 'impromptu band' that was put together by the 'booking acceptor'...who went about soliciting (VERY SUCCESSFULLY) for bookings that were there ALL THE particular 'bookings seeker was a great friend of mine..named SALEEM,..and then there was BAW PERERA....and others who brought in HUNDREDS OF BOOKINGS for AHHINDHAS bands..this, which enabled play with dozens and dozens of musicians who 'fitted' in with other musicians ..and no one could have ever known that this band comprised of a band of musicians picked up from thin air !...i could write a lot more but shall stop here...and mention(some of the ) names of musicians ..I.. JISTY CAREEM, (Rhythm Knights) has had the pleasure of playing with.................Alfred Corea.Lerin Corea, Moreno Corea, Malcolm de Zilwa, Brian De Zilwa, Neville Peiris,Benny Victor,.........Ainsley Ekanayake, Jewel Gunatilleke, Ricky Senn, Kumar Molligoda, Gabo Peiris ,Leonard Francke, Micki Menezies,Darlan Pereira. Tom Menezies, Darrel Fereira, Eddie Lye, Rizan Lye,Lincoln de Silva, Nilam Jainudeen, Tom Menezies, Cecil Rodrigo, Latiff Miskin, Tubby Modder, ..and many many more which i will put down when it crosses my memory...Lastly here in this post..I put down a picture Kumar Molligoda..and I teamed up with others ..i cant remember who...and played one night at the "SAFARI VILLAGE" bambalawatte (somewhere around opposite the bamba flats....kumar, dig into your memory..and also urge you kumar to remember the MANHATTANS ..YOU played guitar for leonard francke..and i was just shifting to piano from guitar..see y'll later !

To continue...and to reiterate ..i must mention once again ...that these guys/

 and TWO GALS mentioned .....are musicians i have played with at different times and occasions and throughout the period of 60' 70's...yes, i have PLAYED with them...these wonderful 'UNSUNG' personalities of the ENGLISH MUSIC scene in SRI then,to add to the names mentioned in the above post..Yes , I have played with..................................................Gerry Crake, Ivan Samaranayake, Chinka Thenabadu, Rienzie Peiris, 'Jumby' De Hoedt, Esme Wadugodapitiya, Ranjith Samarnayake, Sarath Gunawardene, Barethi, Conrad Atton, Winnant Juriansz, Quintus Karunaratne, Gerard Karunaratne, Srilal Arseculeratne, Triehan Arsecularatne, Maxwell Solomons, Fritz De Motte, Dr .Feizal Zavahir,Charmaine Perera, Steuart De Franz, Rajah (Jainudeen ? drummer of the Escorts) Ossie Perera, Sherwin Jayah, Jeremy Swan, Nihal Mayadunne, Mr and Mrs Perera (of the Aelians Fiesta),and....

Fazli Sameer: Saleem was the leader of "Cuban Combo" where Benny Victor, Mr Darling & Co played, they were a frequent band at many Moor Weddings in Colombo.

Jisty Careem: yes, saleem . "the humble" who played the clarinet..and sang "melody da amour"...Darryl Fereira (bro of Raddy) will BEST tell you about the character and 'exploits' of Saleem..Benny Darling..later changed his surname to Victor, and he was part of RHYTHM KNIGHTS..then playing at the sunrise mudalali's coolmbo 7.which was two doors next to the public library ..opposite the Tennis courts.Latif Miskin came in to help us out when there was a 'cabaret' on, because Latif was very proficient reader of music charts and we were not....

Rhythm Knights did a 4 piece on Fridays.. at the 'Hotel School' Galle where the TAJ SAMUDRA is.. Gerry Crake played piano on evenings Weekdays....Purely, for the 'joy' of playing music, he used to join us and walked over when he finished his piano session.RK.....Winnant Juriansz, Quintus Karunaratne, Moreno Corea and I..We called him..Gerry Crake..St.Chords....

At the Masonic Temple Galle Face..I played with Peter Prins..on one occasion..and was incredulous when he mentioned he did not "look" at chord charts because he did not know how !..he played 1 to 1000 or more songs purely "by ear"...amazing, because he was the 'pillar' behind Harold Seneviratne Combo...which in my opinion...was the ALL TIME most successful band in SRI LANKA.

Fazli Sameer: How many of you remember The Cass Ziard Quintet? Cass was one of the top jazz drummers the nation has ever produced. His younger brother Faleel was as good as him too. Sadly, both committed suicide.

Duke Ellingtons drummer, Sam Woodyard, presented one of his cymbals to Cass when the Duke played at the Colombo Oval when their ship stopped over at Colombo on their way back to the USA from an Australian tour. Sam was extremely impressed with Cass's technique and style. They were both great buddies on snail mail in the days gone by when there was no internet.

Kumar Molligoda: Thats Neville Gunesekara on bass, Dallas Achilles trumpet,and maybe Ralph Mars clarinet . I knew both brothers and Faleel was the better of the two, but as I remember Faleel was hospitalised for pneumonia and later I heard that he died of it.Cass used to jam with us very often.He had a massive collection of jazz records and after his death some musicians bought them

Jisty Careem: I knew Cass .. they had their jewellery shop corner of York and Chatham st.. but his younger brother was a good friend of mine..and i new falil ziard...that GREAT drummer...Dallas Achilles was learning trumpet ..those days in Mt.Mary...and was starting with Ivan and the 4 sharps....................................and the guy with the clarinet in the picture ..could be..Ernie Walker...i'm not sure.....Here is unrelated news from me...I bought a tenor sax from a borella...long time so turned out that this sax ..CONN was owned by RUDY JACKSON...the saxophonist..who played with DUKE ELLINGTON..when he toured SRI LANKA... I still have this CONN (original US) tenor sax . A sydney 'antique dealer mentioned that it was worth over$10,000..if there is some way I can get it authenticated...i bought it for Rs.1500 in 1970..about $150 dollars in (then) sri lankan rupees ! nice huh?

Fazli Sameer: The jewelry shop owned by Cass & Family was called MCM Ziard & Company and located on the corner of Chatham Street and York Street a few doors next to the Pagoda. The second brother Suhail was not a musician but a heck of a dancer and won so many dance competitions in Ceylon then. He married an European gal and later returned to Sri Lanka with her. Their home was located at the beach front end of Rajasinghe Road at Wellawatte, facing the sea. Cass married one of my wife's cousins and worked at Nestle at that time.

Cass signature opening number was always "Blue Moon". He was a master exponent on brush work and made those brushes speak out to the listener. Many were the times I have stood still staring at the man play for hours on end and not even blink an eye. Amazing drummer! Faleel was tremendous with his solo's which went on for hours on end, non stop. His drum rolling technique was unmatched by any one to date.

Kumar Molligoda: Hello Disti.We have had no contact ever since you went down under.Re - the Conn sax, I remember this sax .I think Loxley Atten was using it for some time and it was at Darlen's place before it was taken to Aussie.Re- the valuation. I am some what of an expert in valueing vintage saxes as I am in contact with some dealers abroad.The Conn brand is a good brand and some vintage saxes fetch high prices .But it is only limited to certain models made during a specified period .That is 1925 to 1937 .Further it is limited to certain models.But that valuation of10,000 usd is wrong because for that price you can have two vintage Selmer mark sixes or three professional model vintage Conn saxes.As for that sax belonging to Ellingtons band is also questionable as when they came to Colombo in1962 I met them all other than Duke. I have their autographs plus a line of music which Billy Strayhorn [composer of Take The A Train ] wrote for me at Galle Face Hotel .I never
met anyone called Rudy Jackson who played sax in Ellingtons band .The sax players as always were, Johnny Hodges.Russel Procope who also played clarinet ,Harry Carney baritone player and the the Carnegie Hall hero Paul Gonsalves on Tenor.These are legendary players .I went for the concert at the race course grounds and as usual every member was given a solo number. But no one called Rudy Jackson played any solo I wonder whether Ellington did a previous visit.Any way if you send me the details regarding -serial number,model name, details of the design of engraving on the front of the sax [example a human face or a nude female etc,or just a name] name of country or city engraved at back ,details of mouthpiece I can give you a more accurate valuation Lets keep in touch. All the best.

Jisty Careem: Rudy Jackson was a name mentioned by Moreno Corea..son of Alfred Corea...I can give you the details...the sax is CONN ..USA..shall take it up with you..I am trying to get hold of a music sheet of Duke Ellington that was associated with this sax..very interesting, to say the least !

I left this with Darlan when i left lanka to australia..i brought it back to oz some years ago.

Kumar Molligoda: Hi Disti ,thanks for the reply, Moreno's daughter lives two doors away from my house . He was here for a holiday some months ago and is expected back soon.I really dont take him seriously though he is a nice friend .That story about Rudy Jackson cant be true as I have never ever come across that name as being associated with Ellington in the sixties.Anyway that association with an Ellington MUSIC SHEET is worth investigation as if it is so then the sax will have historical value and will be a collectors item. and will be worth quite a lot.The Conn saxes with vintage value are 10M., 30M models. The design engraved on the sax will give a clue to its value I know the international experts on sax but there is no one from Australia..Bye.

Jisty Careem: Kumar, your comment about Moreno sums it up...Talking sax,..Moreno was ONE..perhaps only 'one' saxophonist whose cheeks were full the cheeks of a bagpipe player...but Moreno still managed to bring out 'growling' sounds of a tenor sax. he was with RHYTHM KNIGHTS for quite sometime..till he left to join Colombo Gems..Adrian Ferdinands band in Switzerland.... drifting to days of yore............................Yeah, there were 'BIG HEADS' even in those days...remembering you,..I enquired from Fazli sometime ago "where the hell is Kumar Molligoda..the BEST tenor saxophonist LANKA had ever produced....and I had many who came at me...and that included Edgar Hebber .. then saxophonist for Adrian Ferdinands..I was mucking around with the sax then...and I was hardly get involved in a 'judgemental' discussion about musicians capacity...The same thing happened when i remarked that Raddy Fereira was the 'best' exponent on keyboard that i've seen ..AMONG lanka musicians.....i am putting down names apologies for drifting to one from another..but i am hoping that musicians names will go down for CLARANTHA's page....There was Ivan Jayaratne who filled in with Rhythm Knights....many many times and even did recordings with us..Kumar, i must say here, that Ivan Jayaratne did BILL BLACKS like no one in sri lanka did...... lastly in this post...i'll take you back down memory lane..You were a BRILLIANT singer ..i wonder if anyone sang..playing guitar... Elvis's ..'ONE NIGHT' the Campbell Park Grounds...the time of USA Exhibition....and here's one for Clarantha.....Kumar Molligoda is the ONLY ONE ...who played TWO SAXAPHONES simultaneously..that is ..playing two saxaphones at the SAME TIME.... with a 'gadget' i think kumar designed link the two mouthpieces together...more to come..

Jisty Careem:  Raddy Fereira (Combo? ) and Rhythm Knights played at the CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS BALL...i think at the GOH before it was called TAPROBANE....Winnant Juriansz was finding it difficult to tune his new ELECTRIC bass guitar..Tom was playing with Raddy..came over to us ...and magnanimously spent some time TUNING our bass guitar and putting it right...There were no tuners then..only 'by ear'................................................................and........... I bought a 'set' of electric guitar strings for Rs.2/=..and it was usually 'papa menezies'..who served me...MENEZIES at bamba junct..opposite the ELASTO board..(advert.)....Great days of Lanka!

Jisty Careem: my effort here is to 'remember' and tell about musicians who did not 'steal' the limelight..musicians who went about and CONTRIBUTED to the 'english music scene' in lanka..a lot of musicians who did not care much for publicity..but musicians they were...happy to 'play' at the innumerable functions that was there for the taking ever so often..... early 1960's to mid 60's ..and into early seventies...................................... there was the ATLANTA band....Alfred Corea and Tubby Modder who were the stalwarts here...The Escorts ..when Sam and Saybahn were the frontline ....Tony Felice and all stars....the saxophonist was the most sought after gents tailor, at Apothecaries...Earlred Colombage with his band..the last time i saw them play was as resident band at a nice hotel in Wellawatte...Derek De Silva and the Crystal set...Lincoln de silva Super Pink N purple...PEARL..with Jayantha Perera...The Wheels from Moratuwa...I remember the Junior Rhythmiers...The Cosmonauts with Brian De Zilwa, Randy Peiris, Chinka Thenabadu..more to come as more come to my mind........I shall try to fit the names of those mentioned in my them in with the bands they played with...I remember The Blue Sapphires..when ALston Koch was their be continued..

Aug 29 2012

Jisti Careem: To mention bands of the 60's 70's and early 80's....THE BOHEMIANS with Russel Gomesz, Darlan Pereira, Nihal Rodrigo,Locklsley Atton....THE ESQUIRE SET with Claude selvaratnam, Ishan Bahar....THE OCEANITES..Mohideen , the unflappable manager...THE FIRELIES who were at Ceylinco ......then..CONCORD managed by Nelu of Nelu advertising...I must mention Neville Casichetty who was with the Bohemians...and while i remember the 'tailor' at Apothecaries who played for Tony Felice...his name MAYO , the saxaphonist..and there was the ALL GIRL BAND from Ratmalana: THE MOD ROCKERS....more to come , as my memory is triggered...

To mention names of bands in Lanka 60.s, 70, early 80's..JADE swith Anton Gunatilleke now a successful planter businessman in the Phillipines.... then ORPHEUS.. then Almeida's 20th CENTURY...then GALAXY with Noeline,...then UPPEKHA with Manilal,..then SPECTRUM, band put together by Vijay Corea...then RED DRAGONS..with Willard 'Bomber' White....then THE RESONANTS with 'Jumby' De Hoedt.....then GABO & the BREAKAWAYS with Gamini Peiris....then SAM and the GAYLORDS before sam called his band SAM THE MAN...then THE GAYLORDS with Antoinette....then THE MOONSTONES with Annesley Malawana and Clarence Jayawardene...then TALK OF THE TOWN with Joe Jayasuriya and Louise Crake...then Marcy Perera's ICE & FIRE who played on occasions at the that time when Domingo was F&B manager and Lloyd Wettasinghe was the chairman of Hotels corporation...We... RHYTHM KNIGHTS..was given the CATSEYE supper club gig at the INTERCONTINENTAL...after JETLINERS left for Hongong.......................more to come

To continue..THE SPITFIRES....then THE JAGUARS with Ray Gomez (bro of Russel Gomez of Bohemians)...then THE THUNDERBIRDS with Rohan Wijesekera...then X-PERIMENT with Sooriyakumar...............There was only one band from outside Colombo, who came into contention for gigs...................( gigs of any kind..dances, weddings, engagements, b'day parties, anniversaries, and every occasion that called for a band to be in attendance)......................................................yes, gigs.. available which was by and large.... ..and by far MOSTLY in and around Colombo.. ..this one band from outside colombo ..and from KANDY...who called themselves THE HEZONITES..I recollect an occasion when we...RHYTHM KNIGHTS and THE HEZONITES ...the two bands in attendance on that the QUEENS HOTEL KANDY.I was very impressed with THE HEZONITES...who were impeccaply 'locked' together in their performance..they must..MUST have practised a lot together to have to be so 'tight' in their performance ...

Aug 30 2012

Ravi Jinadasa: My ..My..My..,am i not glad that i posted this clip from APPLE GREEN.. ...and look what we have know i don't post items that often.perhaps once in a Blue Moon...but when i do..i really anticipate other's feed back. specially i do that as if to entice others to participate and they'r posted intentionally .. aimed at our just idling lazy Srilankan Musicians.who may resort only to "LIKE" so what i do..i lay down my hook line & sinker..and just wait.& wait....just look at the Harvest that i gathered today..Fantastic......First of all..thank you folks for your contributions..they'r truly amazing.Thanks DALRINE, CLARANTHA, DISTI & FAZLI,..your feed back's greatly appreciated..yes i remember THE BOHEMIANS..& rest of the Bands that you'v mentioned..DISTI MEERAC..some time back i remember while posting some items it's was one of my usual curiosities to find out....if anyone knew a Band called THE RED DRAGONS. on this FB. the only band member that i remembered was SANDRA BARRINGTON the female vocalist,,they mostly performed in the MaldiveIslands...&...i'm happy to note that band's name was mentioned by you the way do you remember the rest, besides Willard..?...DREAMERS is another band that i'v long forgotten. ..was it the Band that Dylan lye first performed with.? 'cause i recall seeing him performing with a Band called THE a stage show in the 60' Grendlands College (Isipathana)..and later played with THE SENIOR RHYTHEMIERS before joining up with THE JET LINERS.....Yes there has been many small time Bands in and around mentioned by FAZLI SAMEER... the best place to find all those small time Band get hold of MR JOHNNY WILLIAMS'S old Diaries from his house at BAMBALAPITIYA..closer to GREEN his Mansion like house,.. he had 3 Studios.rented out for Bands to come & practice, with all the sounds & when the Bands come to set dates for gigs & practice sessions.Mr.Williams will grab his diary write down all the details name of the band the leader or who ever..comes to pay... he has been doing that for many years..I wil never forget him.. if not for him there wouldn't have been that many Bands in Colombo..Thank you folks..just keep'm rolling in.. good stuff.. .

Aug 31 2012

To continue...Remember Arlene Peck...that wonderful, bubbly, pretty, talented pianist..i cannot quite remember the band she played was a well-known band at the time...she played when her children...Jimmy Peck and sister did a "Hole in the Bucket item...Harry Belafonte song..."as a cabaret item at dances...the audience adored these two youngsters..just loved them................................................eventually Jimmy Peck went on to become Sam & Gaylords ..pianist.....then, there was ARTHUR SPELDEWIN and Cadets...who "cabaret-ed" at dances...4 members who sang with immaculate harmony...without ANY INSTRUMENTAL BACKING....just magic it was...............................................................then..there was BASIL JOSEPH and 3 others...i used to drop in at the FORT COLOMBO..YMCA ..and listen to them practise...I cannot believe that these 'LEGENDS' of the Sri Lankan English music scene ..have been completely passed- by WITHOUT ANY mention at ANY TIME. ......................................................... all i ever saw was the mention in our music scene ...about highly exaggerated..(non) achievements of a favoured few..who travelled overseas ON SHORT STINTS with their pale imitations of 60's english bands............. who had the clout to influence the media of Sri Lanka.................................................I wish someone asks me " Jisty Careem, what are you going on about ..tell us of YOUR thoughts so that we'll know what on earth you are talking about....Try me !.......Basil Joseph plus 3 others did the PERFECT mix of bass,alto, harmony singing that in my opinion.WAS THE BEST..THAT SRI LANKA HAS EVER SEEN OR SHALL EVER SEE....Before i forget, i must make mention of the band that I like best....AMAZING GRACE..later to be called "GRACE"....Tony,Reza,Hassen,...were a class of their own...more to come

Fazli Sameer: PINK n PURPLE used to play week nights at the La Langousterie on the beach at Mount Lavinia. Cecil Rodrigo (piano) also played along with them as a second band, as I remember. "THE FAIZAL HATHY COMBO" was a jazz outfit that spun off immediately after we left Royal where I played drums for a short while. Feizal played piano and his younger bro Afzal (Apple) Hathy played Trumpet. Take the A Train used to be the opening tune at all the gigs we played, mostly house parties of friends and family. The RHYTHMIERS was another top band with Rumi Bathusha (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Alphonse Paiva (Bass), managed by the famous sound man, Oggie Ranaweera, at Bamba (next to the flats). "JUNIOR RHYTHMIERS" as also one of his creations with younger chaps mimicking the older fellers and turned out very successful, too.

Dalrine Wijesuriya: Talking about the " APPLE GREEN " further ...i just wonder if there was any significant meaning to the use of such a name of theirs first.... as i remember....correct me if i am wrong....I guess some of the members are still active in many parts of the world ..i have seen one playing with the group MISTY.....i .also remember Ossie Nugera of the ARABESQUE Fame.... used to play with Apple Green.........He was a very talented Keyboardist ....Ossie was a house hold name in the srilankan music scene..since early 60's......last heard about him was....that .he was running a studio in Sri Lanka..........and no further information since.....wonder if he prefers to keeps a low profile...many may be unaware about such expertise of showcasing the Band " Apple Green" it has brought about a re awakening of such members.... back to life.... I am sure there might be more interesting news to follow up of this group and it's members to the benefit of many of their fans......lest they be forgotten.... In the Local Music world.....May i also add...".I remember Clarantha saying in one of his postings of who encouraged and inspired him about starting a page of this nature....and taking a count on the members of Joseph Clement Pereira , who started a page similar .dedicated to India Sixties... My view of the page now has grown to more values with regular contributions pouring in ..that is of great interest to all it's members who possess a vast variety of interest.....Clarantha's brain child has proved fruitful ....and laid the foundation for a level playing field to share and exchange ones interest in Music...."

Jisti Careem: O KUMAR MOLLIGODA: Stuart de silva mentions the name of RUDY JACKSON saxaphonist for DUKE ELLINGTON ... in his(stuart's) above it may be.JUST MAY BE..that the sax i have with me in SYDNEY... IS.... rudy jackson's ..and that duke ellington saxaphonist got/bought it from rudy jackson and brought it along on his trip to Lanka... when the DUKE visited Lanka..

Kumar Molligoda: Hi Disti, this is what has happened, Rudy had been with DUKES Band and left him and later came to Ceylon in the late thirties and joined the Galle Face Hotel Band and played till about 1942 or 43 .So he probably had the sax with him and so
ld it to some one here before he went.So the fact is that it really belonged to him.But he was not with Duke as I told you when Duke came here in 1962 and again in 1972.It is also possible that he may have had some music sheets of Duke's band and that must be the sheet you told me about.So it is established that the sax was sold by Rudy Jackson in the very early 40's before he left Ceylon.Have you found the music sheet? I am still waiting for the details of the sax .If you can give the serial number I can check when that sax was made and then we will know definitely about Rudy's connection to the sax. Anyway hold on to the sax till we get definite proof.

Sep 1 2012

Jisti Careem: I did not know that 'HAROLD' passed away... This genial and much loved entertainer.. the band leader who catered to ALL ages.  A friend of mine at CARSON CUMBERBATCH or WHITALL BOUSTEADS colombo, rang me to ask if i can get thru to harold..and  book his band for their 'Dance'...think it was 1968/1969...we RHYTHM KNIGHTS were booked as 'second band and I met harold at the 'TAP' ie Taprobane.. and i was shell-shocked-blown... when Harold showed me the dates he was booked for that month of november.. ALL thirty days of November.. the local companies adjusted their 'Dance' date to FIT in with Harold Seneviratne Combo availability.. THAT was the POWER of this band..AND that is why this page's timeline photo should feature HAROLD SENEVIRATNE COMBO..  For your information...when the two bands played....and there were many dozen times they did...HAROLD was the FIRST band JETLINERS were the SECOND band.

Sep 4 2012

Jisty Careem: 

with due respect to all the wonderfully talented glitterati/literati of radio ceylon..the shining STAR of Asia was Radio Ceylon...and i am familiar with the likes of Mel Sansoni, Leon Belleth, Chris Greet, Jimmy Barucha, Chitra Ranawake nee Ma
lalasekera, and many others of Radio Ceylon..and then there was SLBC which also produced many greats ..Vijay Corea, Nihal Bhareti, and others........................................ in praise of Vernon Corea, i found in him the most fluent smooth and charismatic personality of radio ...on one occasion, when he compered the 31st nite..and it went on AIR the happenings that 31st nite... at SIVALI pita kotte........................................... He had the unenviable task of describing the piano playing antics of Sivali Ekanayake ..the owner of the hall..who insisted that his ' piano playing' should go to air......and it did....................................................Sivali was a genial guy but no piano to get on...Vernon had to describe on AIR..and he said" yes, folks..sivali plays the piano and is generous in that he thumps all 88 keys of the piano without holding back the thought that it does not necessarily need to relate or constitute a tune"..yes, VERNON was just brilliant !

Sep 13 2012 - Kumar Molligoda wrote: Thanks Clarantha. a pity our musicians dont have a taste for this type of music and all the bands keep playing the same numbers over and over again There's another great number I like -'Which way is up' by Stargard .It's on YOUTUBE

Sep 13 2012 - Clarantha Perera wrote: War (originally called Eric Burdon and War) is an American funk band from California, known for the hit songs "Low Rider", "Spill the Wine", "The Cisco Kid", "The World Is a Ghetto", and "Why Can't We Be Friends?". Formed in 1969, War was a musical crossover band which fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, Latin, rhythm and blues, and reggae. The band also transcended racial and cultural barriers with a multi-ethnic line-up. War was also subject to many line-up changes over the course of its formation, leaving member Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan as the only original member in the current line-up. The band has sold over 50 million records to date.
Although War's lyrics are often socio-political in nature, their music usually had a laid-back, California funk vibe. A particular feature of War's sound is the use of harmonica and saxophone playing melody lines in unison, sounding like a single instrument, for example in the melody of "Low Rider". The music has been sampled and recorded by many singers and groups, ranging from R&B/pop singers such as Janet Jackson to nu metal band Korn and hip hop groups like TLC...Sep 13 2012 - In response to Pete Fountains version of Just a Closer walk with me on Youtube posted on FB:-

Fazli, you just "jogged" my memory with this Pete fountain number...Malcolm andree was going good after he took '"THE STADIUM" bambalapitiya,... over from his illustrious, incomparable father donovan andree............................Dalrene De Kretzer was seen a "lot" with malcolm..during those days and she was one of singers on that 'show' that day...believe it or not, i remember the GREEN short skirt she wore and the next three days i couldn't sleep thinking of her although she did not know that i even existed......................................................anyway, to continue...Dr.Feizal Zavahir,Jisty Careem(that is me),Nilam Iyn and his brother Usuf............................................3 of us..slinging three ACCOUSTIC GUITARS..the four of us harmonized this number... ( we had practised and we knew that we could sing this VERY WELL).................. Malcolm andree came up to the mike after we sang and said words to this effect..."Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls...i am happy that you a'll gave such a rousing hand for these 4 fellows...thank makes me proud that these FOUR MUSLIM BOYS sang this song of Jesus.JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE..and they sang so beautifully...lets give them a second round of applause........MEMORIES OF THEM DAYS.....

Sep 15 2012
Disti Meerac wrote:  machan kumar, i'd say that most 'our' musicians would love this sort of my thinking, when the priority is about getting bookings and pandering to the tastes of committee members of clubs etc..this type of music simply does not 'cut' with this lot.(.ie organisers of dances, socials etc) who in my defence of these secretaries, presidents of clubs,are looking at bands that can deliver the all-round repertoire..................................................AND the fact that our bands HAVE to have members who have the CAPACITY to bring out an uninhibited natural talent (call it what you may)..and lock in with the rest of musos of that particular band where the rhythm section has to lock in tight,if you know what i mean............................................when we..RHYTHM KNIGHTS were resident band at the SUPPER CLUB OBEROI...there was a 'latin' (sax, guitars, percussion& vocals) band from overseas ..they took my breath away and our band boys felt so inadequate compared to this fantastic band which sounded much like the above.... Galaxy War........The then manager of the supper was either Madawela or Bandaranaike came up to me said "jisty, start immediately with your elvis songs etc...before the crowd leaves'..and that is what we did..We were just was pale in comparison to this 'overseas band'.....but as i said, its about catering to the 'crowd' and not so much about what we'd like to and i, i'm sure would do jazz anyday..rather than 'pop'....

Sep 16 2012 Fazli Sameer wrote:
Talking of Sam the Man my mind goes back to one of those grand days in the 60's when we were, as youngsters just out of school and working on our first jobs were playing at a Lions Club full day Picnic event which was attended by a large gathering of Lions Club members from many clubs in the island. 

We were playing the ever famous Christie's track "San Bernadino" when Sam, who was a member of the Moratuwa-Ratmalana Lions Club (where I was the "young" Secretary then and thats how we offered to play FREE at the event since another member of the band, Rumi Bathusha, Rhythm guitar/vocals, was also a member) walks up to me at my drums, with glass in hand and after a few I am sure, whispered in my ear, "so you guys play -boom chick- music huh", in a kind of deragotary manner trying to imply that we couldn't play music for toffee like his band could. I never forgot that event. On another event within a few weeks, Sam was playing at the Mount and we were at a table in a group and makde it a point to request the same track, "San Bernadino", and his band obliged. Then, I walked up to Sam with his sax and whispered in his ear, "so you guys seem to have latched on to our -boom chick- music too, huh?" and that was the end of that saga.

We were never a fully professional band and always obliged to play for many an event free of charge and only costing the sound hires since we were very young, just out of school, still single, living with our parents, busting up our pay packet before the 20 of the month, borrowing money from Mum and Grandma, and living it up like hell in the late 60s. It was more fun than profit for us. But many other senior bands of that time took the profession very seriously as it was their bread and butter and didnt like any other bands encraaching on their regular "bookings". Since Sam was a Lion's member, then, he usually got all the Lions Club bookings and was nastily surprised to see us "podiyans" playing at this big Lions Club Tamasha and was probably cheesed off and hence made that comment. In fact after this event we were most fortunate to be invited to play for many other Lions Club dances and events and we played them all FREE purely for the sake of the love of music and also being members of the club. I was the youngest Lion's Secretary in Sri lanka then at age 21.

The good ole days! No offence meant to Sam or anyone. Just relating an event only that popped up in my mind this morning.

Just for those who may have forgotten the track I will post the link here for listening to what some thought was BOOM-CHICK music in those halcyon days. -

BTW, our band at that time, "The Spiritual recipe" comprised such greats as DYLAN LYE (Lead/Vocal), EZMAL LYE (Bass), RUMI BATHUSHA (Rhythm/Vocals), Dr NALIN JAYATUNGE (Sax), RASMAR LYE (percussion), the late LAKSHMAN WEERAMAN (Sound/Sinhala/Baila) and myself on drums. We played mostly Jazz/Rock style music, a combination of Santana, Osibisa, and a Pop/Rock/Jazz mix to cater to all music lovers.

many pro bands in the old days had their own share of intrigue, jealousy, pride, etc and there was always competition in getting paid bookings for gigs since the many of the musicians depended entirely on the band for an income. Some also indulged in gossip and backbiting and all kinds of slander. It was a common feature across the board, sadly. We always stayed away from it cos we were never 100% professional and all of us had day jobs except for the 2 students in the group.

Sep 16 2012 Kumar Molligoda posted:
Yes Fazli. You did not mention Sam anywhereThe club thet wre talking about was not Capri or Blue Leopard .The Pianist concerned was playing at The Club 388 at Union Place.BTW,about the problems in bands at that time- It's still happening. Fazli, I cant understand how I cannot remember you when you were with Dylan and others. Can you remember a drummer from Bamba flats-Isham Burah., and guitarist Brian Knower,drummer Tyronne Nagtal
I am sure you can remember M.S.M Saleem who had a band called Cuban Combo ,I used to play for him and every Ramazan he would visit my family with a big bowl of wattalappan.

Sep 17 2012 Dallas Achilles posted:
Rex de Silva and the Rhythm Dukes played at the "Casablanca" Night Club in 1963. Original members were Rex on piano, Tony Ferdinands (fabulous Guitar player) Errol Mulholland (Drums), Pat Abeyakoon (Bass) & myself on Trumpet. I only played for a few months before the fabulous Edgar Heber (Sax) took over from me.

Sep 18 2012 Disti Meerac (Jisty Careem) posted:
Hi Dallas, this is jisty careem (as Disti Meerac on facebook)...Rex hopman (opposite your place in mount mary)...was showing me the brief 4 bars chord change, when doing cliff richards Living Doll...and then he mentioned you were making great progress with your trumpet...Soon, you were the fresh faced kid doing good with trumpet and all of mount mary watched you playing with ivan& the 4 sharps..or was it morton cole the railway institute dance......................... resplendent in white jackets and red bow ties, you all wore....and remember the day when you stopped by.. myself, .merrill de silva,fritz de motte, desmond serpanchy, roger de fransz and others..we were having a 'jam' outside de mottes near werkmeesters...............................and you said "hey jisty, thats not sounds good"..i was playing 'imitation' clarinet i bought from new city stores in maradana...and i was playing BIll Haley's JOEY's SONG...fritz on tea chest string bass, serpanchy on ukelele, roger on accoustic guitar.. and others making the percussion noises..thought i'll share this memory with you.........."Casablanca" i have no memory of this at all (.... was it around empire theatre?

Sep 18 2012 - Dallas Achilles wrote
Hi Jisty
Memories have just flooded back mate, and of course I do remember you. Thanks for bringing it all back for me - you have a great memory mate.

The very 1st dance that I played Trumpet was with the Morton Cole Combo (MCC) on 30 July 1960.
And yes, it was at the Mount Mary Railway Institute (I think they called it).

Neville Goonesekera (Double Bass), Ralph Maas (Tenor & Clarinet), Nihal Manickavasager (Piano), Ronnie Bartholomeusz (Clarinet), & Markie Rozairo (Drums). I was invited to join them for 2 sets, and what a thrill it was.

Ernie Walker who had just left the MCC to play with Ivan & the 4 Sharps arrived after their gig to join all of us in a fabulous, never to be
forgotten, jam session that I will treasure always in my mind. 3 months later, I was invited to join "Ivan and the 4 Sharps" (becoming the 5th Sharp) and yes we did play a couple of gigs at the Mount Mary Institute.

I do remember the De Mottes very well - Fritz used to belt out a great Satchmo version. Those 'jams' you mentioned was great fun and was a great way for us to hang out in those days. Thanks for the memories mate.

I cannot remember where The Casablanca was except that is was a brand new night club that did not last very long. It was too much for me playing every night from 9pm to 2 am and going to work at KVG's the following morning. I remember lasting 2 months before handing over to Edgar Heber.

Sep 20 2012 Derek Bruce wrote:
hello muchang..long time no see. How are you? hey do you have the telphone number for Rodney the keyboard player?

Disti Meerac responds:
 derek, about doing a luxury cruise again huh?..suggest that you first pray very hard that you'd be an exemplary musician, and that you will not be drawn to the shenanigans you engaged in...the last time we did this and the 'birds' wont distract you..huh? heh heh ! ok, i know you are saying 'papa dont preach'!.............................................but they swoon when you do THREE TIMES A LADY...and then they pass you their cabin number when you finish ENDLESS'll message you the number for.... Rodney..our RIVER CANYON keyboard guy...he is a big shot now..employing around 40...making money..a lot of money and the last time i asked him to play with me he said that he was (unfortunately) too busy and paying the price of not having time for music and...yeah, fun...but i'll still send his phone number a private message to, bloody keep in touch and dont vanish without telling me..or else i'll tell all to your wife!...

Ash Rizvi poisted a youtube clipof The Morton Cole Combo on Oct 7 2012:

The Morton Cole Combo was a dance band that emerged onto the music scene in Ceylon during the mid 1950s at period when Colombo enjoyed a vibrant entertainment scene. It was founded and led by Rodney Ondaatjie until his untimely death in a motorcycle accident in the late 1950s. 

Neville Gunasekara subsequently took over management of the band, also playing the double bass and the drums for the combo. Several of Ceylon's leading musicians played for the Morton Cole combo at one time or another before going on to join other groups. Among the original members of the combo were Nihal Manickawasagar, Ralph Maas, Markie Rosairo and Ernie walker. 

During its heyday, the Morton Cole Combo had regular engagements at the Atlanta nightclub in Horton Place and the Tropicana nightclub in Bambalapitiya. It also received frequent bookings in the outstations including at upcountry planters' clubs. Its days as one of Colombo's most popular dance bands were to come to an end when Neville Gunasekara migrated to New Zealand in 1974 and the Combo disbanded. However, several of its musicians went on to play for other leading bands in Sri Lanka including the Peter Prins Combo and the Harold Seneviratne Combo. 

While many musicians that played for the Morton Cole Combo have passed away, several are residing abroad -- from Australia to England. This video is a tribute to the unique sounds of the Morton Cole Combo and all those musicians and vocalists that have played or sung with the group. 

Some of the many musicians that have been associated with the combo include: Romany Piertersz, Valentine Manickawasagar, Lucky Manickawasagar, Malcolm de Zilva, Dallas Achilles, Milroy Payes, Ainsley Ekanayake, Tubby Modder, Evan Lourensz, Jewel Gunatilleke, Rodger Phillips, Clare Croner, Shanthi Perera, Larainne Hoffman, Mervyn Wettasinghe, Averyl Nathanielsz, Derrick Bastiansz, Wilma Gunasekara, Ronnie Abayasekara, Sondra Sriyananda, Patrick Abeykoon, Dr Subesinghe, Sheila Peterson, Theodore Ramanaden, Patrick Nelson, Tilina Gunasekara.

Disti Meerac wrote:

ash, these are all boys of our time....i see Ernie walker on clarinet, Dallas achilles on trumpet, i thought i saw Horace walker too, and Malcolm de zilwa...these guys are BEFORE ..we RHYTHM KNIGHTS even thought of getting together. I was still playing the ukelele and, and thinking wow! perhaps someday i might play in a band like this...yeah vintage stuff....By the way, Malcolm De Zilwa..who lived around Bamba junction opposite the market...(was it Ramya place ?) was an intimate friend of mine..and very many times he has obliged me bringing his sax to play along with Rhythm Knights.. Malcolm was ever smiling, genial, and a wonderful guy...i felt so sad when i heard he passed away some years ago..and no one knew he had passed away because he had lived alone by himself...a genuine nice guy musician...and i liked his busking because he busked so well and kept within the chords structure of the tune and we..the rhythm section..piano,bass,drums,guitar,.. found it so easy to follow him..unlike some saxophonists who went off the tangent... malcom, we shall meet again, machan!

Fazli Sameer responded:

 All those great COMBO's of that era were brilliant musicians who played for the love of music. They were also very nice people.

Disti responded:
did i see ainsley ekanayake on sax as well..Ainsley played with us as well..when RHYTHM KNIGHTS...4 winds...2 trumpets, 2 saxes, what luxury for a band!...and Fazli, you cannot say more than what you just mentioned...played for the LOVE of music...not for fame or fortune, or to be seen where the spotlight shines... they were ALL very nice people..real gentlemen. No 'oloos-bigheads' in them gentleman's era.
One simple example I can quote to justify this statement is that when Tom menezes was teaching me the rudiments of strict tempo drumming, according to the book, he always made it a point to invite me to play with his band whenever I was a guest at any of their bookings, be it a wedding, night club, house party, making a HUGE announcement to the audience that embarrassed me wholesale but also gave me the confidence and courage to play and sustain his credibility. On one particular Moor wedding held at a home in Colombo all of the guests were around the band watching me play and ignoring the main ceremony completely, since they were amazed that this simple podian from the family was belting out a drum break with a pro combo like Tom's. That was truly awesome. God Bless Tom! He was one of the best. I owe all my music to him.

In fact the track he did with me on drums was "Caravan" with a massive drum break in the middle, which took me completely by surprise, and I had no choice but to play everything he had taught me. I didnt let the maestro down, Thank God!

Oct 12 2012
Shirani Ibrahim posted "Greenfields" youtube track on 50's 60's Group

Disti Meerac responded as follows:-

I have to relate this short story because it transports me back to a time when there was 0% anxiety...and life couldn't have been better..yeah, a big statement.

Mullaffer Khalid my neighbour and great friend and I, planned to ride mullaffer's Triumph Herald motor bike on a trip..Colombo, all the way up Nuwara Eliya...coming down to Deniyaya ...Hambantota and south... and back to Colombo.

We packed our bare essentials and importantly , i carried (slung) my accoustic guitar on my back..and yes, we completed the trip as planned stopping and spending nights at our friends TEA ESTATES bungalows.

Going up, at Horton plains, we stopped and parked the bike..walked down a bit..and we could see as far as our eyes could see.

UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL fields .... streams criss crossing over valleys. Mullaffer and I sat ourselves at the spot where we could see miles and miles of nature's magnificent beauty and show ...... we took out our newspaper packed cheap glasses (no paper cups then) and poured the "nannaari kasa kasa drink" which fauji and thoofa....mulf,s ( that's what i called him) sisters had made for us … and i strummed the accoustic guitar and mulf and i sang harmony .. this song GREENFIELDS which mullaffer knew as good as i did ....... fauji and thoofa are the two girls pictured with me in DISTI MEERAC's facebook..and i am in the middle with my beautiful..yeah, i'[ll call them sisters ......... and so SHIRANI, thank you for taking me back to those magical days ... when cricket and music were the only things that mattered to girl friends, no fancy clothes, .... few rupees in our wallets ... we had everything we wanted in echo the words of the song ............"ONCE THERE WERE GREENFIELDS KISSED BY THE SUN ......"

On Oct 12 20012 Disti wrote:

a snapshot of what WAS in the english music scene in them days!...late sixties thru to seventies..and perhaps 80, 81, 82....Lloyd Wettasinghe walks in to CATSEYE...intercontinental..with a bunch of friends..order drinks and little later on...Head waiter comes up to us the band...and politely asks if the band can do few 'standards' and bit the flavour of jazz and then suggests to us " they say it'll be nice, if the band can do some 4/4 ..then quicksteps and latin.." of course, our was the same sort of thing at the oberoi supper club where patrons sat the supper club bar first and then came down to the tables..and the music had barely any link to what is currently on show.........Dr.Wijenaike and his lot came often to the "HUT"..sat a distance from the band...He and his friends..i saw..always had a couple of bottles of Chivas on the table..and they got on to the floor later, and we did a lot instrumentals besides the vocals..............the last time i stepped into the Oberoi supper club ...the scene was quite QUITE different..let me just say it was full of Noveaux Riches...loud mouthed..and calling out loud to the band to play 'FAST NUMBERS" whatever THAT means !..they would'nt know or in my thinking.. would hardly react if...lets say.. Kumar played GIRL FROM IPANEMA on his tenor...or if he did A TRAIN...that, sadly is the fact...and i do not think it is going to change and a class act like kumar has nowhere to go.

Disti wrote on Dec 16, 2012 in response to Clarantha's pic of the Rhytm Knights taken in the 60s

CLARANTHA you are too kind. i cannot remember this occasion venue, but can tell you that the bass guitar and lead/rhythm guitar which i am playing was COMPLETELY made in Sri a guy in Kompannavidiya/Slave Island. His name was JAYASEKERA...the unsung hero nobody knows..this JAYA was a guy who could not speak a word of english, kind and gentle and wove magic with his hands..Even the electronic guitar units were turned out by JAYASEKERA ,,,,,,,,. Many a time did I go looking for this man who simply vanished out of sight. I was doing extremely well during the 70's making money thick and fast....and wanted to reward this amazing guy who helped music lovers like us....during a time when as 'budding' musicians, we could not afford to buy IMPORTED guitars....Let me tell you that i still fight back tears thinking of this wonderful human being ,... I regret that i could not give something back to a man who took effort and talent and put together guitars for 'unknown poor muso's '..He gave me immeasurable electric guitar that would have been out of reach for poor musicians like those days ..... ESME here was the then female vocalist for SAM THE MAN...i cant recall how i got her to sing with us...perhaps the host wanted us to include a female vocalist.

Kumar Molligoda's response:
Disti ,I think I know this man Jayasekera you are talking abuot.He used to have his workshop and residence in Kochchikade near St. Anthony's Church and he made guitars for Bombay Harmonium company of Sea Street .He made a guitar for me in '61 when I was playing GUITAR.He gave up his business and went to his village in Delgoda later on in the seventies.Old staff at Bombay Harmonium still remember him. Eddie Lye played DOUBLE BASS in the Lye Brothers band .His brother was a superb pianist,Eddie also played Trumpet .I met Jurianz some time ago .Moreno now stays two houses away from mine when he is in Sri Lanka for about six months of the year

Kumar...right you are...thats the guitar jayasekera..eddie joined RHYTHM KNIGHTS when SAM and SAYBHAN left their band THE ESQUIRE join JETLINERS who then called themselves THE JET EIGHT...RIZAN LYE eddie's brother later joined us RK. Kumar thanks for just being around and recollecting ...the music that was in this fantastic SRI LANKA of ours. Both eddie and rizan played trumpet with us ..also eddie did brilliant percussion on congas and sang sinhalese songs and RIZAN was THE pianist for RK and i did guitar and vocals you would have liked the HERB ALPERT ...tijuana taxi and other perennials that they used to play and lifted the RHYTHM KNIGHTS...when without 'blowing instruments' a band did not amount to anything, and that's a fact....winnant juriansz, quintus karunaratne, and i ...we did EVERYTHING together and i cannot believe anyone could have had SUCH A HAPPY LIFE...I wish this upon everyone as god is witness !

Kumar responds:
Disti I have to correct you on the name of that band .It was ESCORTS and not Esquire Set .ESQUIRE SET was the name of another band with Nihar Hameed and Claude Selvaratnam .Sam and Saybahn didn.t last long with the Jets.They were there only to play Billy Vaughn music that was popular at that time.Subsequently Sam and Saybahn formed SAM THE MAN and GAYLORDS with late Gabo on drums and after some time Gabo left to form his own band GABO and THE BREAKAWAYS.This was during the heyday of the dance bands in Sri Lanka .It was SAM that introduced Sinhala songs at dances with the famous Dambulugaley and the rot set in after that and it has now come to a situation where Sinhala songs or more precisely Baila forms 50 percent of a bands repertoire .The current craze here is jazz bands.with musicians being picked up from street corners to form these bands ,The general idea is that if you have a saxophone and a Double Bass in the band then it is a jazz band .

From Disti

Yeah, that's us.. virgin boys , fun and music is all that we had in plan and there absolutely plan for girls in our plan...look at all the same 'pointed shoes' but the rest of the outfit was different to what the other wore..and RANJITH was our spokesman, because he spoke english just like a suddhah..and dressed with we felt quite inferior to summer ray ( samaranayake)...this photo relates to DALRINES ...HARRY BELAFONTE's....MAN below


Thanks....Disti....This is absolutely wonderful....The pointed shoes you wore back then has come as a new style now...they don't realize that many a style now was worn years ago... ha ha Good seeing you and the rest of the band members of what good looking lads you were the cream of your youth....Greatly appreciate you posting this picture....


 journey into the past..the dancing days and our prancing ways..things I did so long ago but i still remember ...those glorious days..


Disty , I remember Feizal Zavahir .He became a doctor and migrated to USA .He was a vocalist and sang at some functions .Lived in Kotte at one time . First time that I am seeing a barrel shaped skiffle bass .We used tea chests for skiffle bass.Those huge square GRAMPIAN microphones bring back a lot of memories of the happy and care free days of the sixties music scene .


Kumar, here is a story to tell..feizal was my older brothers classmate in Carey College...In Albrecht's brother was the spider and feizal was the the concert they day in our house i was listening to feizal singing...Joe Candappa played guitar and my brother was harmonizing...or trying to harmonize...and i knocked on the 'office' room door of our house and asked my brother rizvi to open the door..because he did not want his friends mucking around with his younger brother..who appeared as a bit of nuisance...still i told them they did not sound right and their singing was like colombo looking and galle my brother told me, i am too big for my shoes and told me " dont preach, what CAN you ..YOU cut the story short.. i said i can do better with a ukelele and get the singing going...............the next time feizal found that everything sounded better and my uke playing made the bunch much better....from there on, asoka abeysinghe, feizal, rizvi and i sang and soon the mount mary boys gathered in our house for singing sessions...and the mount mary girls came next door to DE MOTTES..and said they like the way we, we felt like 'pop' stars...and so began our musical ways and days...progressing into forming the "band" above..and our cup ran full...i cannot describe the joy we derived from this humble happening..when by brother left for sold his push bike to feizal for Rs20..a lot of money.yeah, i wont dwell too much , but just to say..happiness is not being rich in money...but gladness in one's heart...and bless my parents who smiled at the things we did as young, that is what is called blessing, Kumar...


Disty, I happened to know Asoka Abeysinghe too . He was at Ananda College and was a ''local Elvis'' and lived in Maradana..Sadly he passed away some time ago .Oh yes the Mount Mary crowd were crazy on our type of music what with so many stunning Burgher kellas .Dallas Achilles was also there as well as Miss Sri Lanka Shirlene De Silva .Today that place is a horror with the new residents . Asoka and I took part in a musical show at Royal College when we were in our teens ..We both did Rock and Roll songs. He did Jailhouse Rock and did Long Tall Sally.I sang after Asoka and got roundly hooted by his school friends who had come in a big crowd to support him Needless to say there was a strong exchange of words afterwards to put it mildly .However later in life we became friends .


Kumar, stunning girls ! one was better than the other..the mount mary homes of the burghers were pretty and had that English 'cottage' look. The gardens were trimmed and neat ..with potted anthuriums and orchids, and koliyas in the hedges.......i cannot believe that a country made laws..sinhala only... to drive AWAY the BEST people of sri lanka...Lanka's loss is ENGLAND, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, UNITED STATES, and other Europeans countries' gain, with burghers settling in these countries and adding their sparkle to these lands............................of course dallas achilles,but if i start naming names...this page is not enough....and dont forget CAMELIA PERERA...Darlan's sister who became MISS CEYLON...Darlan joined Rhythm Knights when THE BOHEMIANS disbanded.....................It is fulfilling to reflect back to think that..'our' generation musicians were highly literate and became lawyers and doctors, and engineers, and accountants, and successful business much an academic, as you are Kumar....Asoka and I did our exam preparation at the public library..maitland crescent and ASOKA ABEYSINGHE was LLb..became a much sought after advocate now known as Attorney..asoka was immaculate in dress and conduct in the precincts of the Hultsdorph courts.................................................. i must mention SOHAN WEERASINGHE before i forget..Sohan was and is a very good friend of mine...It was sohan who FLEW to SINGAPORE for buy ALL the musical instruments for RHYTHM KNIGHTS...I had SOHAN AND EXPERIMENT play at my daughter's wedding at Galle face hotel..hope RADIO CEYLON is not annoyed with my nattering.

I have to add to say that SOHAN WEERESINGHE of the a BARRISTER..of Lincoln's Inn of next, time think kindly of musicians..who played music for the LOVE of music and not so much for money or fame !


Thanks to Disti and Kumar, it was a great pleasur to read your post. As Shirani wrote 'Journey in to the past'.Era we lived and enjoyed our lives in Colombo Ceylon. Unforgettable.


Yes Disti, it's a fact that musicians of the 50's and 60's were highly literate .Most of the dance band musicians were employed in the mercantile sector while a number of them became doctors eg: Nalin Jayatunge ,Lambert Abeytunge,Ralph Menezes,Perin and Jerry Jayasekera ,Desmond De Silva and recent additions being Doctors Fazli and Gananath..I am sure that most of you would not know that a former Chief of the Air Force ,Air Marshall Terence Goonewardene from Kotte was a Hawaiian Guitarist who studied guitar under late Hector Edirisinghe .We played for a radio programme and a stage show with Rukmani Devi singing a Hawaiian song in English many years ago. Luckily I still have a picture from a news paper cutting .That was the first time I had met Rukmani Devi who was called Daisy Akka by her friends.


In 1965 we used to go to the GFU at Kirula Road Col 5 just to enjoy Rukmani Devi singing and watching many of her her roles that she had to repeat severa time befor she got it was fun while it all lasted...tnx for the ride down memory lane..


 KUMAR, when you talk of the jayasekera brothers you must be referring to the JAY BROTHERS.. doctors, who sang 'The Cherry Blossom tree'..and Desmond de Silva must be Dr.Desmond de Silva...who played guitar and bass guitar..and was a batch mate of Dr.Feizal Zavahir ...during their time in the Medical School, Kynsey rd near Carey College...Yeah Desmond was a friend of mine..and Terence was famous for his hawaiin guitar playing.....................................RHYTHM KNIGHTS played at the Kantalai Sugar Corporation Dance and it so happened that the fabulous RUKMANI DEVI was there....Tony.... of THE LOS CABELLEROS... the unrivalled, world class 'mexican style' group of SRI LANKA was her paramour ..Tony had passed away and RUKMANI came out of after her spell of grief..for this magically talented guitarist with his spanish style all fingers guitar strumming and lead playing.................. I approached RUKMANI..and asked her.."please Rukmani, please sing MAL BARRER HIMI DHIRIYE...and after coaxing her and assuring her we wont let her down with the accompaniment...she sang this song with EDDIE LYE our trumpet and percussion man..Kumar, it was a moment to cherish when the crowd exploded with rapturous applause..and the DANCE achieved un-equalled success....magic moments in my life as part-time musician. many more stories to tell . I remember the time you were playing for MANHATTANS.


Hello Shirani, GFU means Government Film Unit .So what was Rukmani doing there ? I wonder whether you are mixing up The Ceylon Studios at Kirula Road with the GFU. I used to go to Ceylon Studios for Sinhala Film music recordings in the 60's and 70's .I remember playing guitar for a song sung by Rukmani Devi where she had to sob at the end of the song.They placed a screen between the orchestra and Rukmani so that we wouldn't see her doing the sobbing part .She would also turn up at the studios for shooting film scenes . The other studios I remember seeing Rukmani were Sarasvi Studios .Kiribathgoda ,RT Studios Wellampitiya .and Wijeya Studios Hendala. which were the studios central to the Sinhala film industry before TV ruined it all .


RHYTHM KNIGHTS did the music for DHARMARATNE BROTHERS..when they put out a new album after their successful 'vasse^ vahinivaa...and 'varsity kollo..they called it BEBADHDHAA...the govt of the day banned this song..because it referred to a harmless way..and it NEVER came out after all the hard work by these poor boys...dharmaratne brothers...i did all the composing of introduction and in-between really sounded great...but boofhead politicians had their say and we were powerless....i think it was at Wijeya studios in Hendala..because dharmaratne brothers came up with 'sudhu arrack' for our boys who toiled all night to produce the album that never came to pass.


Disti correction again ,That was Neville Fernando of Los Caballleros .Good friend of mine. He was famous for his song MASTER SIR .His brother Errol played lead for JETS at one time.MANHATTANS DANCE BAND was the band where I learned all the standards and gained valuable experience as a guitarist and it was from there that I graduated to the sax I was lucky to have served an apprenticeship as it were under those great musicians in that band and you were also lucky to have have been associated with some of them. That's something that the present day musicians will never experience


Neville it was ..glorious voice and guitar my mind was running Tony Fernando..(mignone's husband) of the JETLINERS... yeah, we had such great peers that we learned from...and the confidence that we derived from associating and learning from the greats of sri lanka music scene of our days, machang...tell me if you ever worked with RA Chandrasena...composer and harmonium specialist


Disti, it must have definitely been Wijeya Studios Hendala because I have been there a countless number of times for recordings and during the lunch break we would walk down the road that ran alongside the Hamilton Canal to an illicit hooch joint for a shot of the white stuff from Negombo and I also remember playing for some of Dharmaratne Bros.recordings at this same studio .

How and where did you meet R.A Chandrasena .He was a great musician and music director now forgotten by the present day ORIENTAL MUSIC crowd .I knew him well and played for some oriental shows at Vihara mahadevi Park and also did some film recording work with him in the same orchestra .He lived at Maradana and also ran a famous music school nearby .One his most famous pupils was late Premasiri Khemadasa .You may find it hard to believe but here is a true story about him .I was born in Kotahena and my parents later shifted to Hulftsdorp which at that time was a highly residential area in Colombo My mother was a good oriental singer and she had a HARMONIUM [Foot operated bellows like a church organ ] R A Chandrasena lived close by and he was a little boy at that time .He had made friends with my eldest bro. and he would come to our home when my mother was away and he would play the harmonium ,and that's how he first learnt to play an instrument .His wife Shiranee was a music teacher in my old school at Kotte. I play his most famous composition --Dasa Bala Dharee [Buddhist themed song ]


Well Kumar Molligoda in 1965 we used to go often to the studios with the GFU...and enjoy watching Rukmani Devi who used to a do a lot of practicng singing many atimes...and even did some of her roles..We lived opp the studio 11 chitral Lane so my dad's friend who worked for the GFU at that time..used to take us there (my two brothers and sis ) ...I dont know his name but his stage name was was 'Akbar the Great' the magician ..Sri Lanka Magic Circle we were life members..cos of Gate Mudliayar ACGS Amarsekera...I am sure we would have corssed each other.....There was also a guy called Reggie..He was living close to our house...I was 15 16 at that time..


Shirani , I remember Akbar The Great but cant remember his name .He used to perform at socials and dances etc. There was one Gamini Wijesinghe who was also a famous magicians so it could have been him.I used to visit Mrs. Kusala Abeywardenes house down Chitra Lane .She happened to be a friend of my mum and I also knew her daughter Kamala who passed away some time ago . In fact I had played for her birthday long ago. The last recording I did there was in the mid seventies for a Sinhala film . It was Victor Ratnayake's first film song .The film was the Sinhala version of a famous Hindi film ,DOSTI . We may have been at the same venue some where, some time . There was of course a famous oriental musician named Ibrahim Salih I knew BTW ,I wonder whether you have heard me perform .If you would like to listen to my music please go to YOUTUBE and enter, KUMAR MOLLIGODA -Don't it make my brown eyes blue . .There are three other songs too. Hope you will like them.


RA Chandrasena his studio and home was in the same street where PLAIDONA ICE CREAM house MARADANA,... close to the ELPHINSTONE THEATRE..........Chandrasena was a wizard with the cousin Zainab Vilcassim was a student of his and we addressed him as Chandrasena Master...I used to tail along with Zainab...(the daughter of my mother's elder sister) and her father Hafil Vilcassim....................................................It was in his house one day, that he put his palm to his ear and told Zainab..."this boy has a very good melodious voice..I will give him some free lessons" He wanted me to sing JAAYENTHO JAYENKAHAAN on radio ceylon.. a song from the hindi film TAXI DRIVER..but changed his mind and then followed many things too long to describe..however, i will tell you that he made me sing a SINHALESE song on Radio Ceylon...............................Kusala Abeywardhene was the LSSP stalwart of Dr.NM PERERA's time..I think her husband was Hector Abeywardhene...your mention of ibrahim salih...he was in our house almost EVERY WEEK..and he was known as salih master...along with him came HARUN LANTRAnd MOHIDEEN BAIG came too, ....and then HR JOTHIPALA visited us..and thats how my first song i sang in public was SIRI AME^ SAARA...memories all triggered by a simple post by DALRINE...of the song MAN PIABA !....AMAZING !


 I remember FEIZAL ZAVAHIR, isnt he a doctor in the states ? Surely that pic brings back memories.


Warnesia...he sure is Dr.Fezal Zavahir of Holidaysburgh Philadelphia Pennsylvania...He is quite famous as a specialist paediatrician...we both went to same schools...Carey Baptist College...Kynsey rd...and Zahira College...we are childhood friends andmusic still keeps us tied..btw...are you any of Wadham dole, that great drummer...or of of the affectionately called " DOOLE GANG"..the leader of this gang was in class with me..a really nice guy and liked to copy my exam (tests) the end of 'third term' test...




Disti, I saw that film TAXI DRIVER with DEV ANAND and his wife Kalpana but cant remember the song. As for Jothipala and the others in the oriental field we were in and out of each others houses as we did a lot of travelling to show venues ,mostly outstation and we did a lot of film music recordings .The money we all earned was peanuts compared to what is being paid now but we were all like one big family .I bought my sax with the money I earned from playing guitar for recording work which was 40 rupees per song and some times we did only one song for a whole night if it was a difficult number .


KUMAR, yeah dev anand and kalpana kartik..the movie TAXI DRIVER music by sd burman and the song sung by talaat mehmood, should be written as JAAYE THO JAAYE KAHAA...though it is pronounced as i've written in my earlier post...It is relevant to mentionhere re: what was paid to 'musicians' ..back in "those" days..( Dr ) but just mr Feizal Zavahir and I..just out of college...travelled to Kandy fnor DECIMA (dalrine de kretsers mom) the KANDY LAKE got paid Rs.25...Feizal took 10 and gave 15...which means thats the pay we got for working both night and day if you consider the hours travelling...........................Many a time i had to scrape my pocket to give "loan" a musician in dire financial trouble..still, they returned it in bits and pieces...until i say " dont worry machang, thats enough forget the rest"...I mention this and you will agree we did music for the great passion we had for it...and to be... even in a small be RECOGNIZED within the music industry and fraternity...not so much seeking 'popularity' and short lived fame through media

WARNESIA.....Rufin Saldin ( my friend of LONG years).. and Wadham Dole presented the 3 STAR NITE at the Taprobane Lotus Room..Three bands in attendance ": Harold seneviratne, jetliners, rhythm knights...jetliners could not eventually make it with issues about room availbale on stage for equipment etc..Yet, the night went off like a bomb...and a magnificent 'cabaret' and sword display by Rufin and Wadham, had the crowd gasping with awe ! Such were the days when entertainment rose above 'baila' dancing only..without intending to discount baila music which i like very much.


Disti .I used to do that Kandy trip weekly either with Decima or Moulana. Remember him?We got that same amount per person. but that trip was real fun stopping at Pasyala and teasing those comely village damsels selling kadju .They were beautiful and one of my friends from Colombo married one of them. We would be given a Maalu Paan and tea at Salgadoes in Kegalle Strictly one each only. Some times Makcolm Andree would take us up but he was more generous. We could have two each. And thats where I met Clarence Wijewardene for the first time .He had come all the way from Ratnapura with two other boys to sing two Sinhalese songs composed by him .One song was ''Ruwan puraya ape gama thamay '' Nobody knew him or his music at that time [1964] but we became friends and later we met in Colombo in1968.


Moulana..yes...and i'm trying to think when did i first go for a booking he gave me...Kegalle, did the some as you ...and got kalu dhodhol and thala business partner Jacques Van Minden with whom i opened LA LANGOUSTEREi on Mount Lav Beachalways urged me to get through to one of the Kadju girls ..and wanted to MARRY one of them...he got his wife down only after i flatly refused to be involved in his crazy ways !


@Kumar people here do not believe in the Mayan doomsday stuff at all. Its been raining here since 48 hours now, non stop, and the streets are all flooded with water. Its our weekend so we can stay home and dry.

Clarantha wrote on Dec 28:
NTERTAINER Kamahl has admitted he started life in Australia as an illegal immigrant after overstaying his visa - with a little help from Rupert Murdoch.

Kamahl, who was born in Malaysia to Sri Lankan parents and made his home in Adelaide after arriving in Australia in the 1950s, says raging debate over what should be done about asylum seekers is "a subject fairly close to me".

"Because in 1958 I should have been legally deported from here because I had overstayed my visa. And I found every which way to avoid that,'' he says...

Kerry Edwards responds:
That's OK we forgive him...there were worse characters who were illegally entered this country. As long as he is a Citizen and I think he is and given of his services to dear old Oz...we'll keep him here.

Disthi chips in:
Frank and Michael Agostino, two poor Calabrians from the south of Italy made good in Australia..owned and managed RIVER CANYON RESTAURANT the fine dining wining dancing venue... by the Parramatta Rive,r Sydney.............................'RHYTHM KNIGHTS got 'IN'.... chosen after long consideration and deliberation by these two nice guys...There were many applications and among them many Sri Lankan bands.......................................When Michael asked me what our rates were.. I said I'd leave that to him resulting in a higher rate than we, from the opening to closing of this restaurant, we were the resident band for...............................13 plus years !!.........................One evening KAMAHL was featured here...He arrived in a chauffeur driven limo and escorted to the stage..and he sang his many songs to the delight of the ladies who were not so young..Yeah, he was a showman and knew what to do..and it was a learning curve for us....definitely a learning curve for me.....Thought I'll put this in while KAMAHL is featured on your page, CLARANTHA.

Kumar says:
Disti , no one told me about your band being active over there when I was there in '90.I would have come searching for you if I knew .I stayed with Russel De Hoedt in Sydney and I met Roger Menezes and Randy Pieris. .I also spoke to Gazali Amith and Helen Lucas over the phone .Their children were to be married shortly at that time.I also had some news of Desmond White and Steuart De Silva but didn't meet them .I also met Cliff Willenberg .

Disti snaps:

and follows up with:
Let me expand on the years 89' 90' 91' and thru to 2000....if YOU met me in 90'...RHYTHM KNIGHTS completely involved at the RIVER CANYON...Our outfit was keyboards :eddie: sri lankan and patrick: italian , Jisty: guitar and vocal and keyboards., bass: Derek anglo indian, drums : ervin anglo indian...and if you happened to meet me then, I would have urged you on tenor...machang, you would have LIKED the scene...the management would have come up with the extra dollars, no sweat....but of course, I wouldn't expect a SRI LANKAN to bring you around ...really the best venue downtown wouldn't believe the demo tapes and stuff given to Frank and Michael..especially Lankan musicians trying to break in here...there were times...november december...when we played 20 days a week, corporate functions and stuff...anyway, that was what it was...last week Randy played with me because eddie was overseas...but lets see what we can do yet ,in the future.

Kumar says:
Disti ,In this country there are some people who are supposed to be office bearers of a certain musical club who say that my tone on sax is Raucus when asked to make a comment and with the next breath they would recommend a not so popular or proficient sax player That's to be expected.

Disthi responds:
I learned to play sax because i loved the tenor sax. If I could have played like you, perhaps i would have ended up in europe or US...still maybe not because i hate a hurried life......................... i loved sax best of all the instruments i attempted and played. ask Chinka about the times when he got annoyed when i told him that he was not hitting the notes the BROWNS BEACH...he even walked out .but of course , we were good friends, and that was just an about proficiency...machang, its all about what connections one has with "office bearers"...its all part of the game ...i have climbed many a mountain, trying to get in the scene in i gave it my best shot and did not have time to spend on 'showboxes' without musical proficiency who i EXPECTED would put a hurdle on my path.. maybe i got lucky..ended up being resident band at CATSEYE at the Intercon..SUPPER CLUB at the Oberoi..LITTLE HUT at Mount...and HAROLD SENEVIRATNE booked us many times at the BLUE LEOPARD at the TAP....and endless 'bookings' clubs, corporate, private functions...........didn't much care about the 'spotlight' because i/ WE got in where we wanted..and cfuk the write-ups etc on the danger of being too effusive about your sax talent..i'll have to say that tenor has HAS to have that rasp sound.. that sound that i just couldn't get when i did sax..and KUMAR it's just second nature to as the cliche goes ' its pearls before swine' when they " office bearers" say your sound is too raucous..perhaps they are 'baila' aficionados' machang !

Kumar Molligoda with Harsha Makalande New Year's eve 2013 at Amangalla Hotel, Galle. Kumar celebrated 55 consecutive New year's eves from 1958 to 2013 without a break. A record for Sri Lankan Musicians.

Kumar: Thanks every body .I'm moved to tears when I look back on all the hard work that went into achieving this .It could not have been possible without the help and support of all my brother musicians band leaders .well wishers and my family.I remember with gratitude .late Mr. Seelanatha Kuruppu .late Leonard Francke Late Johnny Williams late DBIPS Siriwardedne .late Mario Manricks ,late Gerry Crake .late Cecil Pieris .late Joy Ferdinando,Earl Arnolda ,Nirmo Thambapillai ,Harpo Guneratne.Late Manik Sandrasagara ,Nimal mendis .Malcolm Andree,Mr & Mrs Jayamaha .Krishni Jayawardene .Nigel Austin ,Shiranee Sella muttu .Romesh De Mel ,Nihal Perera,Harvey Deutrom Peter Prins Harold Seneviratne ,late Suriya Kumar. late Claude Fernando ,Mohan Wimalasuriya Kumar De Silva ,Harsha Makalande ,Dilukshi Sirimanne ,Lalin De MEL,Mac Phillips ,the late Mankavasagar brothers ,the Menezes family.Steuart De Silva and hundreds more too numerous to mention .Just got back after a gig ,running a temperature with a runny nose and cough .Got another gig tomorrow .Will have to do it and forget the fever and cough .That was my life for the past 55 years THANKS EVERY ONE ONCE AGAIN .Looking forward to my latest addition to my sax family ,another 50 year old German Tenor sax from Freiburgh..The twelfth sax .

Disti: that is not only impressive, my thinking nobody but a musician, can equal this the whole WORLD . How about that for a statement ! Here's another statement which has HAS to be better . That statement is " Kumar,

Disti Meerac I like go back to that day when my cousin NIZER CADER (now)..chairman of SINWA group married my cousin Kuraisha Kamer Cassim. The band was Leonard Francke's THE MANHATTANS..the band that was very popular with muslims at their weddings..This was the band that played at the wedding of my late brother Nicky Careem when he married Falza the Galle Face Hotel...

Disti Meerac Kumar Molligoda played guitar for Manhattans during that time ..and was not yet 'fully' into Tenor Sax. I was hanging around the band THE MANHATTANS, our band Rhythm Knights was not even a 'thought' then.................... I remember late Leonard telling Kumar " Kumar, don't start tinkering ( or words to that effect) with the sax. YOU are the guitarist for the band, so get going with what you have to do with the guitar..The Place: No 4 Tickell Road, Borella, Colombo.