Just a speck of dust

With a lot of push and sacrifices, not to mention going through lows and highs, a person might achieve some degree of success in his or her chosen pursuit, career and fields of interest.

Many achieve success beyond their dreams and are amazed that they have come to such a stage. I, for one, am part of this group, though being one of Malaysia’s top Elvis Presley impressionists, there is nothing to shout about — after all I am just a speck of dust on the desert’s top.

Actually I never aimed to go beyond the school acts and whatever happened to me in the arts (including music) later just happened without any party really authoring or planning for it.

Perhaps the Almighty has a plan or plans for us and sees to it that we achieve some degree of success in what we do.

We have a number of popular singers whose offspring try to match their parents’ success or achievement. But most of them could not do so and many failed miserably.

In singing, the glaring example is Lisa Marie Presley whose albums are all flops as so are Sean Lennon’s, Nancy Sinatra’s and many more. The same goes to the film industry’s greats such as the small degree of success by the children of P Ramlee, Hussain Abu Hassan and Aziz Jaafar.

In the US, Henry Fonda’s children Peter and Jane were just incomparable or did not measure to their famous father as are the children of Donald Sutherland (only Kiefer made a bit of impression as actor, director and producer) whereas Michael Douglas is still struggling to match the mighty deed of his legendary ‘Spartacus’ father Kirk.

Even the children of Bruce Lee, namely the late Brandon and his sister Shannon trailed miserably behind the kungfu legend. These are just a few examples.

The point here is that parents do play a great influence in their children pursuing a career in the arts but not necessarily ensuring their solid or great success, if any.

Most artistes and artists are the real reasons of their own success and without any attribution to their parents.

Our local Elvis Tribute Artistes’ (ETAs’) backgrounds reveal that most of us come to the stage where we are almost entirely due to our own efforts and talent. None of our top ETAs are from a singing family.

When entering Form 1 as a 14-year-old in 1968, I was mesmerised by the guitars — I never came across one prior to this — but they were out of my reach as they belonged to strangers. It was in August 1975 that I got my first guitar, costing RM32. That was in Penang during my first year in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Two years later we formed ‘Revival of Elvis Presley’ band, a tribute to our idol who died on Aug 16, 1977. I was the pioneer lead guitarist.

This was the opportunity to share Elvis’ songs and music with the others, inside and outside USM campus. For the record, it was in 1969 at age 15 that I first belted Elvis song ‘It’s Now or Never’ on stage with little success.

Many more songs and performances were to follow later but it was only in 1971 while being in Form 4 that I was more or less unrivaled. They called me ‘Saratok Elvis’, especially after being instrumental in our school getting the Second Division School Drama Champion in a contest hosted by SMK Simanggang in Sri Aman the same year.

I performed ‘Just Call Me Lonesome’ at the Simanggang Theatre and the score was added to the drama act our school presented separately at the SMK Simanggang school hall.

Now for 48 years I have performed Elvis in almost every corner of Borneo alien to other world’s Elvis impressionists. These include Bau, Kuching, Siburan, Serian, Tebakang, Melugu, Sri Aman, Betong, Engkilili, Skrang, Pusa, Debak, Saratok, Roban, Daro, Belawai, Bawang Assan, Sarikei, Bintangor, Sibu, Kanowit, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri, Kuala Belait, Seria, Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, Temburong, Limbang, Lawas, Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Pontianak.

In Malaya I have performed in Penang, Taiping, Alor Setar, Kuala Lumpur, Seremban and Port Dickson. When I looked back these seemed to be a dream.

My audience thus far included the 11th Yang di-Pertuan Agong the late Sultan of Selangor Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Al-Haj (in B.S.B Brunei), former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (Kuching), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Alor Setar), former Sarawak TYT Tun Datuk Patinggi Muhammad Salahuddin, present TYT Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and most Sarawak leaders, both past and present.

I had the privilege of performing together with the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem (at the former Ferritel in 1989) at a show hosted by the late Datuk Mustapha Besar and also featuring the legendary Rose Iwanaga with whom I also performed together in 2010 at the then Holiday Inn.

This blowing of my own trumpet is necessary to prove one or two points stated in the relevant paragraphs above.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.

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