Given that the entire family plays music, what made you choose the drums?
Well my father was a great violinist, percussionist and drummer. He always wanted me to be a musician. It so happened that he taught me everything he knew. As a young lad, I was actually not so interested. I was more attracted to play games like any other kids. But as the years went by, I followed my cousins wherever they went, and that’s when I learnt to appreciate music.
You were voted ‘Best Drummer in Asia’ in the 70s. What made you different?
You know, maybe that time there weren’t many people who played drums *laughs*. Let’s not talk about that. These days you see a drummer in every corner. I do however try to engage the audience by putting up a show.
Tell us a little about your experiences with Salvador Guerzo.
When Ador was working in Bangkok, Alfonso brought me there. We met a lot of Filipino musicians and musical families. Every week was someone’s birthday. Every week there was a party. At that time Ador was working at the Hilton with famous band leader Romy Posadas. So happened that I was working at Hilton too with Tony Carpio. He was working upstairs at the fine dining area, and I was playing in the lounge. Sometimes they would come down and play the last set. This was around 1966. We meet up now and then since we also stayed in the same apartment block. We get together and play music sometimes. At one point I worked with him in the KL Hilton. You know, Ador also comes from a great musical family. To me, in Malaysia he’s contributed a lot. Just like his father in-law building the orchestra from scratch, he molded The Solianos into a vocal harmony group. He shared his knowledge with his nieces and nephews. And he loves fishing! It’s a great loss for us. He wrote beautiful music. A simple person.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
There’s just too many. I’ve worked with many artists. People I work with inspire me. Matt Monroe, Anita O’day, Roy Castle, Tom Jones, Brenda Lee, Patti Page, Ann-Margret…I used to also be inspired by P. Ramlee. The way he sings, the way he tells a story. I’ve even worked with Saloma before. I’m 71 now. I don’t remember all of them. There’s so much history in me. There’s so much to talk about but so little time.
Why No Black Tie?
When the place first opened I was invited here. I’ve always had fun here. Evelyn is a very kind person. She’s extremely nice. I sometimes can’t figure out how to repay her hospitality. She’s given a room for all of us to play. The musicians in Malaysia should be thankful. A lot of them became popular and they started out here. Most people when they open clubs they think about money, money, money… Evelyn is not about money, she’s all about passion.