Club mourns another loss

I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.

– Elvis Presley

Elvis Tribute Artistes (ETAs) — just like our idol The King of Rock and Roll himself — are not immortals despite many wishing them to be.     

For our beloved Sarawak, many are still mourning the loss of their favourite ETAs such as the late Reynolds Gregory @ Elrey who was called home on Jan 23, 2010; Miri’s Alex Ting (also in 2010); John Sia @ John Siaz De King of Sibu in 2016 and Jimmy Adit @ Eljim of Samarahan in June last year.

In addition, our Elvis Presley Fan Club of Sarawak (EPFCS formed and registered with ROS in 2014) on Sunday last week suffered another loss when our most senior ETA and Sarawak Elvis Presley titleholder (1965) Eskandar Eyaw @ Elkandar was also called home to join his ancestors. A pensioner, Elkandar (1945-2021) passed on peacefully at his home in Kuching.

Known for his soothing voice that reminisced The King’s early years, the polite and kind Elkandar, whose young look had an uncanny EP resemblance, always wore a smile when meeting friends.

During our last show prior to the pandemic circa Aug 2018, he was his usual friendly and modest self. Since writing about him in my first Sarawak Tribune column in 2004 (Sunday Music Scene) using my Anya Kedap byline, I never heard of my late friend bragging he was the most senior Elvis or an EP of Sarawak titleholder, even when we performed together with some ETAs from Malaya or Sabah between 2003 and 2018.

Both John, Jimmy and Elkandar were life members of EPFCS.

In the Malaysian EP scene, only Eddie Francis, 82, is more senior than Elkandar. Eddie, the 1976 EP of Malaysia titleholder, is still rocking and kicking but perhaps has mellowed a bit. We performed together in KK, Sabah in 2012 and in KL in 2014. In fact, I was supposed to represent Penang for the Malaysian EP contest in 1976 but couldn’t make it due to financial constraints.

An Indian friend went instead but failed to match Eddie’s superior skill and voice that reportedly wowed Calcutta with his awesome performance in 1958.

Our late friend Elkandar met with Eddie during their various rendezvous in KL between 2012 and 2016. I am sure they did exchange CDs and contact numbers as I did with both of them during our days together.

EP songs that brought the best of Elkandar included Tender Feelings; Doing The Best I Can; His Latest Flame; Angel; She’s Not You; The Wonder of You; Puppet On a String; Surrender and many more, especially ballads. These were numbers usually reserved for him during our shows all over the places in Sarawak, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur. His melodious and soothing voice was a reminiscence of the early era of our idol known worldwide as The King — in life and death.

My most memorable moment with Elkandar was sharing a room with him at Kingwood Hotel in Sibu during our show there. Our host was the late John Sia. Dubbed ‘Remembering Elvis’, the 2007 show also featured other ETAs from Kuching, including twice EP of Sarawak titleholder Wilfred Vincent Ragam, the late Reynolds Gregory and Ges Barundang, popularly known as Elges Presley (Elvis of Kuching and EPFCS president).  Our Kuching friend and Elvis wannabe Aubery Chan was also part of the show.

Elkandar, then attired in his dark blue EP jumpsuit and matching belt, dazzled the audience with his typical EP voice of the late 50s and 60s.

“He really has that Elvis look and voice, carrying himself well and wearing that smile almost similar to our late King,” said a female fan in her 30s who sat next to our table. She was obviously an ardent EP-Marilyn Monroe fan and enthusiast in view of her high collared blouse and blond wig.

Meanwhile, our local ETAs in our WhatsApp group all expressed sadness over our loss. News of the demise of our eldest member was shared by Azmi Jahidin @ Elaz who is also Sarawak silat maestro. Other members in the group, namely our president Elges, youngest member Adrian David Junior, club internal auditor Henry Gerijih Tabor, Major (Rtd) Abong Amping, Christy Duin Tanggi and yours truly all expressed our sympathies and condolences to Elkandar’s family.

Other ETAs such as Wilfred @ Elvince and Marveyne Daniel Tajem also joined in the expression of loss and sympathy. Our club advisor Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom has been told of the loss but has yet to respond as the Pakan rep is still on the ground to meet his constituents.

To our revered late friend Eskandar Eyaw, we wish you rest in everlasting peace, brother.