Train kept a-rollin’
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.