Still rocking on
> At 65 and with nearly five decades in the local music scene, Ramli Sarip is still winning over old and new fans with his songs
says. “As a singer, you need a collection of songs under your belt ... If you only have one or two hit songs in your career, how are you going to have a two-hour concert?”
When asked the secret behind this success, he says: “I never dreamt of becoming famous when I started my music career 48 years ago.
“I did not have the ‘commercial’ voice or ‘commercial’ face that the mainstream music scene was looking for.
“But God has been kind to me. He wanted me to be famous, and nothing can stop God from making this a reality.
“All my success comes from God and I am grateful to Him.”
He also attributes his success to getting his late parents’ blessing in pursuing his music career.
His father was a foreman who taught religious classes part-time, and his mother was a housewife.
“I always tell young people to respect their mother and father, and to always get their blessing in whatever they do,” he says.
“If you do not get your parents’ blessing, then you [will] not get blessings from God.”
His career was not without challenges, however.
When Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) imposed a ban on male artistes with long hair in 1993, Ramli was one of the few singers who refused to cut their hair.
As a result, he was slapped with a television appearance ban that lasted several years.
“I was not being a rebel,” he explains. “I was 40 years old, and I should not be forced to cut my hair.
“Even in my teenage years, I did not like cutting my hair short.”
His late mother was worried that he would not earn enough to survive, and subtly tried to persuade him to cut his hair.
“I told my mother not to worry about my bread and butter, and to just pray for me. If she prayed for me, then God would listen.”
It appears her prayers worked. The ban could have easily ended his career. But it did not.
Ramli went on to become the legendary singer and songwriter that he is today.
Despite his huge success, he remains humble.
“In Islam, it is said that you won’t smell heaven if you are arrogant,” he says.
“No matter how rich and popular you are, you must remain humble.
“I pray every day that I will never be arrogant. If you want to do bad things, God will permit you, and if you want to do good things, God will help you. “
Next year, he plans to produce his 13th solo album to mark his 50th year in the music industry.
He also reveals that he plans to release his autobiography soon after that.
“Now, I am busy jotting down [details of] my journey in the music industry, and the inspirations behind some of the songs I have written,” he says.
“I hope I can complete my [book] in time.”
For a colourful personality, with such a long and prolific career, his life story should make for an interesting read.