It’s more than 40 years ago that Malaysian rock band Grim Preachers signed off at the height of its popularity. Now, the band is out for one more hurrah.
Bass player Kamaruddin Abdullah might not have strapped on a bass guitar for the last 40 years, but he’s raring to go for his former band, Grim Preacher’s Grand Reunion show tomorrow night at Hard Rock Cafe, Kuala Lumpur.
“My daughter was shocked and asked me if I was serious about this,” revealed the 66-year-old with a broad smile during an interview recently.
For those of a rocky persuasion, (and old enough to remember) the name Grim Preachers was uttered with reverence back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with the likes of The Falcons, The Strollers, Ash Wednesday, The Hunters and Brown, Black & Blues.
The Malaysian rock music scene was bubbling over with numerous underground bands and likewise, straight up Top 40 groups, back in the decade of the Monterey Pop, Woodstock Music & Art Fair and the Isle of Wight festivals.
Grim Preachers, formed in 1969, occupied the heavier end of the sonic spectrum, opting to play left-field tunes like Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and Jethro Tull’s Teacher and Nothing Is Easy, among others.
“We somehow managed to distinguish ourselves from the other bands who were doing more commercial music by playing the heavier stuff,” related founding member, keyboardist Eko Muhatma Kartodirdjo, who is now 65.
The band’s lineup for the reunion show also includes drummer Chan Hassan, who replaced Hussein Idris of The Strollers fame very early on.
In its heyday, The Grim Preachers included founder Daiman Mat Nor (who initially played lead guitar but later switched to bass), Eko, Kamaruddin, guitarist Adnan Hussein, vocalist Don Hamidon Mansur and flautist/guitarist Auri Rahman.
Apparently, the band got its name when the members were one day sitting around with guitars, singing and strumming along to Bee Gees’ I’ve Got To Get A Message To You. “Daiman stopped us just as we passed the first line of the song, which goes ‘The preacher talked to me and he smiled’ ... and he suggested ‘preachers’. Then next day, he added ‘grim’ to the name,” shared Eko.
According to him, Daiman fancied having the word grim in the name because the band played heavy music, which the band leader felt tied in to the flavour of Grim Preachers’ sound.
Like many bands of the time, education and family priorities eventually derailed their dreams. “We signed off at the top. We had our final stint at Carmen’s Inn (in Penang’s Merlin Hotel) from January to March 1972. By end March, we disbanded and parted ways.”
It all seems rather sad and unceremonious today, but the boys are pleased with how life has panned out. They may have never imagined getting a second crack at flying Grim Preachers’ banner, but now, more than 40 years later, and even without deceased band leader Daiman, the band will hit Hard Rock Cafe’s stage for a rock out of a classic kind.
“We want to bring back the good old vibes of the 60s and 70s, and we hope everyone will have a rollicking good time,” Eko declared.
Tomorrow’s show, at 9pm, will also include a special appearance by friends of the band, including the likes of Oddie Agam, singer and composer of hits such as Wow, Surat Cinta and Antara Anyer Dan Jakarta, popularised by jazz queen Datuk Sheila Majid. Also grabbing the vocal mike will be World Youth Jazz Festival founder, the irrepressible Nik Azmi.
■ Tickets, priced at RM60, are available at Hard Rock Cafe. For more info, visit hardrock.com/kualalumpur.