Two lines of a song,” once upon a time”, ending with “never comes again”, sung by the multi-talented, very handsome Bobby Darin, gave me the idea for this particular “article”, written especially for my fellow- entertainers of Sri Lanka. Once again folks, just TWO lines of a meaningful SONG, say so very much.
As “entertainers” which carry a gamut of talented professions, we are all born into this World for one purpose ONLY, this being to “entertain” others on the “lower rungs” of life’s ladder. I only use the term “lower rungs” because of the fact that, as entertainers, WE are generally seen “on-stage, screen, or television”.
There may be Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers or Scientists in the “audience” out there, but entertainers are, in a manner of speaking, on a “higher level” & the much more affluent, highly educated, influential audience have actually PAID to see or hear you perform. Firstly, do not disappoint them . YOU are there to entertain THEM, not yourself.
Secondly, speaking from the point of view of entertainers, & I consider myself to be one, after about 75 long years of experience, TOO many Sri Lankan bands, groups & even very good vocalists in their own right, try to “copy” those abroad but can never come up to expectations because, for a start, most of “our mob”, going back to the 40s & 50s now, only had “showbiz” as a part-time occupation. Professional Musicians & Entertainers do nothing else. Part-time people never did have enough hours in which to hone their craft. Because of this, many were under the impression that IF they could “sound” like a Glenn Miller “big band” , they would be more accepted, get more work at hotels etc., & earn more money. So, they then practiced “The Moonlight Sonata” which was the Glenn Miller Theme Song, until they were “blue in the face”. Unless you were a band like “The Millionaires”, you didn’t have a hope of sounding.like the G.Miller Orchestra & even the “Millionaires” were part-time Musicians who were superb, playing as the fabulous Millionaires. What I am trying to say here is “don’t copy”. It was happening THEN & it is still happening NOW. Lankan “Vocalists” want to sing & sound like Elvis, Englebert, Tom Jones, Nat King Cole, Shirley Bassey . Dancers are all supposed to be “like Michael Jackson etc., rubbish.!, Those were the “original Stars & no-one, Lankan or otherwise will ever be able to “touch them”. Many years ago, at a hotel in Melbourne, I was told that I sounded very much like Jim Reeves.
How I wish this was so. I did a lot of “Country -Songs” in a lower key (musically speaking) because I didn’t want to screech out the lyrics, but, Jim Reeves? !!, not in a million years. There was only ONE Jim Reeves.
I DO “pay tribute” to many varied Artistes on my various recordings, & this is perfectly alright. I DO NOT go around thinking I am “them”. I do not try to “copy” anyone. This is a definite “no-no” to Lankan Musos, and especially the “Western-Style” entertainers.
“Sinhala & Tamil” entertainers are fine, as far as I am concerned, No-one can copy them & I don’t think anyone tries. To “copy” a large Sinhala or Tamil word or enlongated phrase, anyone will have to be either word-perfect or drunk.
Thirdly, & finally, it seems such a shame that MOST of our top Entertainers come into the World & then “leave”, far too early. Dozens of the International Stars like Elvis & Michael Jackson, who come to mind at once, are just a couple who “stood-out” in my opinion.Fast living, drugs & medications to “keep awake”, generally take it’s toll & even the best of medical men & facilities could not prevent these sad early deaths.
As far as “Lankans” were concerned, two of the BEST Vocalists, again, in my.opinion, left our Planet far too early. They were Cliff Foenander & Denis Roberts. Both were “front-men” for many bands who were lucky to have their services. Both were very good friends of mine & I was privileged to know them . God bless you both, Cliff & Denis.
Bobby Darin was an American who grew up in poverty after his father passed away when he was very young and he grew up thinking that his mother was his sister & his grandmother, who brought them up, his mother. He decided to be a “Star” before he was ten years old, played guitar & drums, sang & entertained, was always brash, almost cocky with his talents, and deservedly so, because he was exceptionally good at what he did. He sang, wrote “hits” like “18 Yellow Roses” & “You’re the reason I’m living” as “Country Hits”, amoung others, “acted” in a film with Sandra Dee, in which he sang the beautiful “title” of this “story” which should help everyone who reads this article to remember that, whoever you are & however good you are, as an Entertainer, anywhere, “ONCE UPON A TIME, NEVER COMES AGAIN”. Be yourself, do what you do, do well, my friends Bobby Darin was only 37 years old, when he died.