Train kept a-rollin’

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT - Men­cari Penye­le­sa­ian

OVER the last 40 years, Blues Gang has en­joyed nu­mer­ous highs and suf­fered some lows, but the band has chugged along through it all.

March – band starts as a part­time trio in Jo­hor Baru with Karim, Jim, and then lead gui­tarist Mat Dol­lah un­der the name Mes­sen­ger From Hell.


May – the band up­roots and moves to Klang.

July/Au­gust – Ito and Ghani join the band. They move into a rented house in Medan Da­mansara and do noth­ing but prac­tise.

Be­tween 1976 and 1979 – Band changes name to Blues Gang.


De­but al­bum (also first English al­bum) Any­time, Any­day is re­leased.






Oc­to­ber – Apo Nak Di Kato is re­leased.

Novem­ber – One week af­ter its launch, Apo Nak Di Kato sells 15,000 units.

Jan­uary-March – Kon­sert Merentas Desa tour hits 25 towns in Malaysia, in­clud­ing Muar, Klu­ang, Teluk In­tan, Dungun, Batu Pa­hat, Kangar.

May – WEA presents the band with Gold Disc for record sales of Apo Nak Di Kato al­bum.

June – Blues Gang re­quires po­lice es­cort out of the Batu Pa­hat sta­dium when its con­cert is stopped less than half­way through af­ter fans throw ice blocks at drum­mer Karim for play­ing blues in­stead of rock songs.

Septem­ber – The band reg­is­ters its own com­pany, Kumpu­lan Blues Sdn Bhd, with Jim as chair­man, Ito as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and the oth­ers as di­rec­tors.

Oc­to­ber – Khat­ulis­tiwa is re­leased. The ti­tle song is later banned by RTM for con­tain­ing the word “Mercedes” – seen to be sub­tle ad­ver­tis­ing.



Mat leaves, Ju­lian Mokhtar

Ada Lagi is re­leased.

Jan­uary – Sec­ond English al­bum Livin’ It Up is re­leased. Khat­ulis­tiwa is in­cluded but with the word “Mercedes” sub­sti­tuted with “kere­tapi”.

Fe­bru­ary – Ito calls on artistes to unite to fight piracy, a day af­ter po­lice seize pi­rated copies of Blues Gangs’ lat­est al­bum Livin’ It Up, 14 hours af­ter the al­bum launch.

May – The band opens cof­fee­house K Blues Mu­sic House in Angkasaraya, KL, where it per­forms reg­u­larly.

That same month, Kumpu­lan Blues Gang Sdn Bhd and Bata (M) Sdn Bhd sign a con­tract for Blues Gang to pro­duce a jin­gle for BataNorth Star. It is the first time a lo­cal band has been con­tracted to write a jin­gle.

July 30-Oc­to­ber – Blues Gang (top Malaysian band) and Sweet Char­ity (top band of Sin­ga­pore) em­bark on the grand Kon­sert Rak­sasa tour of Penin­su­lar Malaysia (KL, Teluk In­tan, Ipoh, Alor Se­tar, Pe­nang, Te­mer­loh, Kuan­tan, Be­sut, Kota Baru, Ma­cang, Kuala Pi­lah, Sega­mat, Klu­ang, Mers­ing, Serem­ban, Bant­ing). More than 15,000 fans turn up at Sta­dium Merdeka for the tour’s cur­tain raiser.

Au­gust – Kon­sert Rak­sasa raises RM50,000 for Hari Pahlawan fund.

Novem­ber – The FRU is called in to curb crowd trou­ble at the Expo Se­lan­gor ‘84, when thou­sands of fans turn up to watch Blues Gang but are forced to wait more than an hour for the band.

Jan­uary – K Blues Mu­sic House closes be­cause of losses.


Man­ager Sa­ji­man Salleh says it is only tem­po­rary un­til a bet­ter and cheaper lo­ca­tion is sourced.

March – Sakit Sakit Sakit, aka Blues Gang, is re­leased, the band’s eighth al­bum.

Jan/Feb – Za­man Berubah is re­leased.

March-May – The band go on tour in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei.

July – Ito is ru­moured to be leav­ing the band be­cause of a rift be­tween him and the other mem­bers. A de­ci­sion is ex­pected to be made af­ter the band gauges the re­sponse to their lat­est al­bum. Two days later, Karim de­nies the band is break­ing up, say­ing the boys were tick­led to read about the rift in a lo­cal daily.


Septem­ber – The po­lice revoke per­mit for the band and Ramli Sarip to per­form at the Expo ‘86 in Alor Se­tar. The OCPD’s rea­son is that he felt there was not enough man­power to en­sure se­cu­rity.

Novem­ber – Oh Ini Kah Dia! is re­leased amid the band’s very vo­cal stand on piracy.

Jan­uary – The band an­nounces its split be­cause of Ito and Ghani’s plans to launch a nightspot in KL.

Fe­bru­ary – Blues Gang con­tin­ues as a trio (Ju­lian, Jim, Karim).

Jan-April – Ito starts a com­pany named Ito Pro­duc­tions with Ghani and a friend.

May – Ito launches de­but solo al­bum, Aku.







April – Band re­leases Esok Hari, first al­bum un­der SCS la­bel – the al­bum com­prises not just blues tunes, but also rock, reg­gae and com­mer­cial pop.

Au­gust – Blues Gang cel­e­brates 20th an­niver­sary, with Ito and Ab­dul Ghani no­tice­ably miss­ing. Sin­gle Mak Siti (from Esok Hari) makes it to the semi-fi­nals of TV3’s Muzik-Muzik con­test.

Re­formed lineup, with Ian An­der­son on gui­tar, re­leases Ribut Pen­damai un­der Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic, it’s last stu­dio al­bum to date.

Oc­to­ber – Blues Gang and Sweet Char­ity team up once again for Kon­sert 2 Rak­sasa at Sta­dium Merdeka. – Com­piled by N. Rama Lo­han


March – The band re­leases

– its first al­bum with­out Ito and Ab­dul Ghani and its last with WEA.

Novem­ber – Blues Gang signs on for a three al­bum deal with Suara Cipta Sem­purna (SCS).

April – Ghani re­joins the band.

Rock mon­sters: blues Gang and Sweet char­ity live it up on­stage dur­ing the mam­moth Kon­sert rak­sasa of 1984, a time when rock mu­sic ruled the roost.

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