In the 1990s, singer Azman Warren was in Roslan Aziz Productions’ (RAP) stable of artistes, which included Datuk Sheila Majid, Zainal Abidin, Amir Yussof and Afdlin Shauki.
Sheila and Zainal continue to perform regularly, Amir sporadically while Afdlin has become a TV host.
Azman , however, has taken a completely different path.
“Music was something that I chanced upon. I never wanted to be a pop star. I am currently building a rice mill in Cambodia,” said the 55-year-old who still has his trademark frizzy hair.
Azman, who was inspired by Led Zeppelin, doesn’t find the business world a big change from being in the music industry.
“I’ve been doing business for the past 10 years. As far as being in the music industry is concerned, it is something I’m trying to forget,” he said.
His songs Mercy and Juliet were featured on RAP’s Ikhlas compilation and he was playing gigs but it wasn’t all hunky dory.
“It was a dark period. I was struggling,” he said.
The Batu Pahat-born man of Malaysian-English parentage bunked in with his sister as he couldn’t afford to stay on his own. He got married at 34 and it got even harder to make ends meet.
Azman’s album, Karma, was finally released in 1999, seven years after signing a recording contract. It didn’t get much attention as there were two high-profile RAP releases before his album — Sheila’s Ratu and Zainal’s Gamal.
“There wasn’t much money or budget left to promote mine,” he said.
Still, the album got him nominated for Best New Artiste at the Anugerah Industri Muzik 1999, but he lost out to Anuar Zain.
“I was the last one on the RAP ship, as Ratu and Gamal didn’t do well either,” he recalled.
Still, he remains on good terms with all the RAP artistes and its founder.
After his solo album release, he began building up a network of business contacts.
“It’s growing. There are plenty of opportunities,” said the philosophy graduate, who was reading Einstein when he was 14.
“I was a bookworm, a front-bencher. I was telling kids not to drink, do drugs or have casual sex when I was a teen,” he said.
“Yes, I was a bit strange for someone who played rock music,” he snickered.
Azman hasn’t totally given up on music. Although, he is pretty much a full-time businessman, he still plays the occasional gig at Backyard Pub and Grill and when the impulse comes.
“I busk sometimes around the Sungei Wang (Plaza) area when I get the urge to play. I play stuff like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven. It’s good money, too, sometimes.
Do people recognise him when he busks?
“Yes, they go ‘What happened to you?’ To which, he replies, “I’m still around.”