Home-grown music veteran Jimmy Appudurai-Chua, former lead guitarist of blues rock band The Straydogs, died on Tuesday from ill health. He was 76.
Formed in 1966, the group stood out from their contemporaries during the 1960s to 1970s with their hard-edged R&B- and blues-influenced sounds.
Appudurai-Chua moved to London in the early 1970s when The Straydogs broke up and ran a photo processing centre in Notting Hill. He was last residing in Torpoint, a coastal town in Cornwall, Britain.
He is survived by two sisters, Betty and Minnie, who live in the United States and France respectively.
Bassist Lim Kiang, 73, an original member of The Straydogs, called Appudurai-Chua – who joined in 1969 – a “true friend”.
He told The Straits Times: “We first met when we were hanging out in Katong. Jimmy was playing in some other bands at the time and I was just starting out with The Straydogs in 1966.”
He added: “Jimmy unselfishly helped promote Singapore music. He’s truly a blues legend.”
Appudurai-Chua’s death was mourned by the local music community, with many sharing their condolences on his Facebook page, calling him a “good man” and a “rare gem”.
Jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro, 63, was saddened by the news, and paid tribute to the late guitarist for being a “huge musical force in Singapore”.
Monteiro shared in a post that he last met Appudurai-Chua in April 2023 near the latter’s home in Torpoint, where he spent “a couple of hours with him at lunch and strolling around Plymouth”.
Monteiro wrote: “He was a gentleman, a silent rebel and an important player in our music scene. I wish I got to see him more, but I am glad I got to see him this year before he left us. Rest in peace maestro Jimmy Appudurai. You will be missed.”
Patrick Chng, guitarist of local band TypeWriter, remembered Appudurai-Chua as a “kind and gentle soul with lots of wonderful stories to share”.
Chng, 55, wrote in a post: “When TypeWriter went to the UK in 2013, he got us gigs in Plymouth and Torpoint, and was supportive of our band. (Singer-songwriter and TypeWriter’s manager) Kevin Mathews and I also got the chance to visit his flat in Torpoint and I could see that he was well-liked and respected by the community there.”
Singer Jerry Fernandez, frontman of Jerry And The NeuFaces, said Appudurai-Chua was like “an elder brother” to him.
Fernandez, 74, told ST that he had known Appudurai-Chua for more than 30 years, having watched Appudurai-Chua play in his previous band The Meltones before he joined The Straydogs.
He fondly recalled how they would meet up each time Appudurai-Chua made his yearly visits to Singapore. “I will miss him very much,” he added.
Fernandez is also mourning the passing of another local musician, Peter Thomas, the bassist of 1960s pop group Naomi & The Boys. He died on Tuesday at the age of 80 after suffering a cardiac arrest, leaving behind a daughter, who resides in Perth, Australia, and a son, who lives in Melbourne.
Alphonso Soosay, Naomi & The Boys’ drummer, told ST he met Thomas in June 1965 when he joined the band.
Soosay, 77, said that after their final performance in August 1985, he would often meet up with Thomas either in Singapore or Perth, where Soosay is based.
Thomas was also a talented songwriter, said Soosay, adding that he will sorely miss his “dear friend and delightful teammate”. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network