Ramli Sarip Is Singapore’s Papa Rock & Malaysia’s King Of Rock

By now, many of you would have already seen the viral video of Ramli Sarip performing a moving rendition of our national anthem, “Majulah Singapura”.

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In case you haven’t, here’s the full video Mr Ng Eng Hen uploaded on Facebook:

So emotional, right? Now after you’ve wiped your tears away, read on to learn more about the legendary rock star who’s done so much more than made us fall in love with Singapore.

1. Started the Malay rock scene in Singapore & Malaysia

Ramli, along with schoolmate Rahman Sarbani and kampong friends Wahid and Joe Salim, formed rock band Sweet Charity in the late 1960s.

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While most bands around that time covered genres like pop, soul and country, the four were making waves in the industry performing classic rock hits.

They eventually won a record deal with Warner Music, which had just begun setting up operations in Singapore.

Songs like “Kamelia” and “Teratai” appealed to the masses, building a huge fan base that fell in love with the band’s music.

Several gold and platinum albums later, it became clear that Sweet Charity had swept the region by storm, paving the way for other Malay rock bands to follow.

2. Delivers important messages through song

In an industry where catchy tunes and emotional stories prevail, Ramli takes a different approach to music.

His versatility across multiple genres like rock, soul and world music allows him to explore creative forms of expression.

He uses this advantage to write songs that raise awareness about serious issues such as the Vietnam War, environment and spirituality.

Ramli’s commitment to producing meaningful works certainly sets him apart from many other musicians out there.

3. Helped shape other musicians’ successful careers

After Sweet Charity disbanded in 1985, Ramli pursued a solo career which also saw tremendous success.

But beyond his personal fame, he also played a huge role in catapulting many budding musicians’ career.

He wrote songs for Khadijah Ibrahim, the first female Malay singer signed by Warner Music, and Ella, Malaysia’s “Queen of Rock”.

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He also produced Lefthanded’s first album, launching the career of what is regarded as one of Malaysia’s best rock bands.

4. Loves Singapore dearly

Although his musical pursuits have brought him to Malaysia where there’s a larger audience, Ramli still loves Singapore deeply.

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After all, this was where he grew up, attending Jalan Teck Whye Secondary School and working as a storekeeper at Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) at one point in time.

Not to mention, Singapore was the birthplace of Sweet Charity, which gave him his first taste of stardom.

In a National Archives of Singapore (NAS) interview, Ramli professed his love for the country, while explaining his continued presence in Malaysia:

I miss Singapore and I love Singapore – I grew up there. But I have family in Malaysia too, so I do not see boundaries. And everywhere is God’s land, after all.

Wherever he is, he carries Singapore in his heart and never forgets where he came from.

5. Admired by thousands across the region

The timeless appeal of Ramli’s music is evident in the large crowds that continue to show up at his concerts.

He played his largest concert in 1996 at the Merdeka Stadium in Malaysia, to a crowd of 30,000 people.

A reunion concert with Sweet Charity at the Esplanade in 2009 was similarly a sell-out.

There’s no doubt therefore that Ramli Sarip’s music will continue to withstand the test of time, and leave a lasting mark in the Malay music scene.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.