BEFORE the likes of Yuna, Zee Avi and Mizz Nina made it big overseas, the Alleycats reigned supreme in Hong Kong in the 70s.
Datuk David Arumugam, the lead singer and founding member of the band, told theSun in an interview the band secured a performance contract in 1976 to play in a club situated in Central, a business sector in Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong wasn’t our first overseas stint as we had previously performed in Thailand and Singapore,” David said, adding the band had its own fan club and appeared in numerous TV shows in the then British colony.
The band struck a chord in the Hong Kong entertainment scene and remained there for nine years.
However, the Alleycats continued to do albums, which were sold in Malaysia and became huge hits.
“Never did we know that we had become such a success here, we only realised it when we were offered to do a road tour across Malaysia.
“When I saw the amount of press coverage ... also before our performances I saw newscasters mentioning us on radio and television ... I remember feeling so scared and nervous.”
David said that was when his trademark husky “Terima Kasih” (thank you) was born.
“I remember going on stage and seeing the crowd. It was a huge crowd and the word ‘Terima Kasih’ came out ... it was out of fright,” he said grinning.
Speaking of his most unforgettable moment, David said it was during a tragic incident in Hong Kong.
“We were part of TVB’s (Television Broadcasts Limited of Hong Kong) biggest show at that time ... we just finished performing and got off stage.
“Less than a minute later, the stage, barely a few feet behind us, collapsed and a few people were killed.
“Thank God we were safe ... but it was something that I won’t forget ... it is still vivid in my head,” he said.
On the earliest influence in his musical journey, David credits his mother for putting him on that path.
“She was a skilled Carnatic singer. I would often follow her on her shows or recording sessions and would wonder what it would be like if I were in her place and she was watching me perform. Well, it all came true!”
Speaking of songs his band has recorded over the years, David said he “resonated equally with all his songs”.
“When I walk into a studio and do these songs, I pour various feelings into them: some happy, some sad and whatnot ... so for me all these songs are equally beautiful as they manage to capture what I or we as a band feel when we are making these songs.
“It is not for me to say which song is the best, maybe it is for the audience to hear and decide ... not me,” he said
The Alleycats was formed in 1969 in Penang, and has been entertaining fans around Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia for more than 30 years.
The band released a total of 29 albums, many of them went gold.
Among their evergreen hits are Sampaikan Salam, Andainya Aku Pergi Dulu Sebelum Mu and Sekuntum Mawar Merah.
The band’s classic line-up was David on vocals, his brother, the late Loganathan also on vocals, Tan Chin Hock on drums, Shunmugam Arumugam on lead guitar, Chester Anthony Passerella on saxophone, Khoo Fook Sin and Frank Ong on bass guitar.
Keyboardist Grenville Pereira (Gren) joined the band later.
David now spends time with his family in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur, and performs either with the band or solo upon invitation.