KILLING US GENTLY WITH HIS SONGS. A Fond Farewell, DANNY CHAN 陈百强. (ReVISITED)
“SOMETIMES the STRONGEST among us are the ONES who SMILE through SILENT PAIN, cry behind closed doors, and FIGHT battles nobody knows about.”
This is a tribute to someone I knew, the late DANNY CHAN.
And the entire canto pop world clamored for more.
This is a tribute to DANNY CHAN, HONG KONG pop singer and composer extraordinaire.
DANNY died in 1993, after 13 months in comatose.
It had been widely reported then that DANNY suffered from a depression of sorts, and was hurting badly from psychological loneliness and a sagging career in the later part of his life.
He became a recluse, was manic-depressive and resorted to drugs and alcohol.
As a result, he was found unconscious in his residence one fateful day in 1992, apparently from an accidental overdose.
Whether this one is fact or fiction, the mystery died withDANNY.
Time has really flown as DANNY CHAN had been long gone for 15 long years.
These days, whenever his evergreen hit MY TEARS FLOW FOR YOU is being aired over the radio, memories of DANNY would come flooding back.
A sense of DEJA VU. Merci.
It’s like some weird kind of resurgence, just like the lyrics from ROBERTA FLACK‘s famous song:
“I heard him sing a good song,
I heard he had a style,
And so I came to see him,
And listened for a while,
There he was this young boy,
A stranger to my eyes …
Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words …. “
Killing me softly with his songs….”
I still recall vivid memories of the early 1980s, when I approached DANNY CHAN, then a fledgling singer and a host of other Hong Kong artistes for a charity performance courtesy of the LIONS SOCIETY OF SINGAPORE.
Whilst the Hong Kong artistes are contented to twin-sharing rooms, DANNY peremptorily insisted on a single room just for himself.
Whenever he had a mood swing, which he often did, he would give the P.R. conferences a miss and went swimming in the hotel pool instead.
At that time, I found him to be as self-centered as he was perplexing, and I had to cajole him for at least an one-to-one interview with MICHAEL CHIANG (currenlty editorial consultant with the Singapore MediaCorp 8 Days Magazine), then a journalist, at the Mandarin Singapore’s poolside.
DANNY even requested that I treat him to a VERSACEfashion show staged at the Mandarin Hotel and he wanted to meet DICK LEE because he heard that from grapevine that they both resembled each other.
Frankly, DANNY was relatively unknown in 1981. But on that night of the charity performance at the now defunct SINGAPORENATIONAL THEATRE, I was startled by his powerful vocals when he belted out his hitMY TEARSFLOW FOR YOU.
Now it’s as though time has really stood still.
DANNY CHAN‘s soulful evergreens will always remain as a heritage with his fans, invoking a deep sense of loss in many of us, of a great talent that has passed on.
Were I really friends with DANNY? I am clueless.
Eons ago, when DANNY was still around and whenever I was in Hong Kong for project meetings, we would make a point to meet for afternoon teas. Our usual tete-a tete rendezvous was at the Chatterbox Coffee Shop at theMANDARIN HOTEL.
DANNY was the effervescent good looker who loved to mingle with the socialites and the fashionistas and it was not uncommon for our chats to be interrupted by a beautiful “someone” who would just come hither with a “wooo…how are you and what have you been doing lately? That’s a nice really striking shirt you are wearing…and…”
Hug, more hugs, smooches …
Boleh tahan, tak?
DANNY loved to be complimented as a hip haute trendsetter, for his fine dressing.
His pretty boy features made him look good in anything he threw on, including those slick jackets of his – be it worn-in leather, black blazer or safari style. His looks are always stylish, never less.
He was a veteran of style, be it funky, edgy or flamboyant.
The biggest problem with DANNY CHAN was his moods.
On some days when I ran straight into him at theREGENT Hong Kong, he would “feign” the I-don’t-know-you routine and breezed pass me without even a simple hello.
Ignorance was bliss then.
Then when I sought to give him back a dose of his own discipline, as I was rushing back to my hotel on NATHAN ROAD, he would cross over to say “hello” to me with a curt “Hi, so you are in town? Let’s have tea tomorrow at the old place, OK?”
It was really exasperating to play the “mind-set” with this man.
I remembered fervently that DANNY had a penchant for the LONDON scene and he always wanted to make an annual “pilgrimage” there . I did not know his reasons and I never asked.
But I had an intense dislike for his then manager, an obnoxious albeit pretentious man called K.K. TAM.
K.K. TAM was rude and arrogant, and extremely tactless in his dealings.
And wow, he was lucky in the 80s to have 3 extremely popular talents under his artiste management belt.
They were DANNY CHAN, LESLIE CHEUNG and PAUL CHEONG.
As FATE would have it, all these three artistes succumbed to suicides, under mysterious circumstances.