TO ROCK OR NOT TO ROCK :Story of Bangladeshi Rock Music!
Bill Haley and the Comets, considered to be the first Rock N’ Roll band, had formed in 1952. Starting with their song “Rock Around the Clock” in 1954, Rock N’ Roll went on a move for a more heavier direction. Soon it evolved into Hard Rock and eventually Heavy Metal. The bands’ sound started to turn heavier with the years.
Our Band Music scene wasn’t really far or exception from this evolving. This is our side of the story…
REPRESENTATIVES OF ROCK
It starts right here in Dhaka; some kids from St. Gregory’s School formed the first band in 1964. The band was led by Fazle Rob, an 8th grade student! Fazle decided to form a band one day when he heard his Anglo-Indian classmate performing a Cliff Richard song. Fazle immediately bought an electric guitar and with the help from his music enthusiastic friends he formed Iolite. Soon they started playing regularly at Shahabagh Hotel and also Dhaka Club. Iolite had the privileged to perform the first ever ‘ticketed concert’ in East Pakistan as Deshi band, they appeared in a television show later. Iolite was also known as Windy Side of Care.
Another band, Lightning led by Abdur Rashid was formed at the same time, they were also from St. Gregory. They played for Hotel Agrabadh, most prestigious hotel at Chittagong. Back in those days the band was extremely popular, they also appeared in a television show.
Rambling Stones was formed in 1967 with Actor Jafar Iqbal, Mahmud, Faruque and Tota. They used to perform in Hotel InterContinental’s Chambeli Room, which was all band’s dream stage to perform in those days. They broke up in 1969 when their practice space was burned by a mob!
These first three bands participated in an exciting competition held at Chambeli Room in 1968 and Windy Side of Care won the title that day. RCA Record Company offered them a record deal and they recorded an album, which was the first 45rpm record (vinyl) by any Bangladeshi band. Band’s vocalist Alamgir moved to Pakistan during Bangladesh liberation, he became renowned solo singer there and also celebrated in Bangladesh later.
There was one more band; Bakalam from Narayangonj, led by a charismatic guitarist Jalal Abedin, he was well-known for his playing.
DISCIPLES OF ROCK
After the 1971 war music was on the rise again, this is the story of many Rock bands that formed and disbanded during the course of time!
Azam Khan, a freedom fighter, formed Uccharan and immediately shot to fame. Uccharan was the wakeup call for the Rock music and all the disciples started to put up their bands.
Ugly Faze was one of the early bands with Kamal, Larry, Saki and Reza.
Omar Khaled Rumi, Shahed, Sazzad, Dostogir and Salahuddin formed Underground Peace Lover, they used to play at Hotel Purbani, they also started the first ticketed show at the newly liberated Bangladesh in 1972.
Today’s legendary musicians like Nayan, Fuad Naser Babu, Piaru Khan, Hamin Ahmed, Shafin Ahmed started to perform at then famous Dimple Restaurant, located at Asad Gate.
By then Azam Khan became the Guru and was performing all over the places; his band members Happy Akhand and Kamal were famed for their brilliant guitar playing. Everyone was in a roll and Rock music had a new found glory.
Fuad Naser Babu, Selim Haider, Khoka, Murad, Popsi and Zakir formed Feedback 20th Century in mid-70s; Popsi and Zakir were replaced by Piaru Khan and Maqsood in 1977, they became Feedback. They released their first album in 1985, followed by their brilliant second album in 1987, it was probably the first hit album by any band.
Hamin Ahmed, Shafin Ahmed, Larry, Komol and Rony formed Barrack in 1976. Omar Khaled Rumi formed Abnormal 3 Plus 1 with Joy that year.
Farid from the Lightning band formed another band with Happy Akhand, Kamal, Larry, Mandis, Istiaq, Musa and Robin; it was the birth of Miles. They performed their first show at Dhaka Club. Hamin Ahmed and Shafin Ahmed joined the band soon afterwards. They started to perform regularly at Hotel InterContinental; where they played until the early 80s. Soon, Miles released their first album and had their first solo concert at Shilpalaka Academy in 1982; they released their second album in late 80s, which was a full length English album.
Miles and Feedback were at their peak; both had the opportunity to appear at Bangladesh Television (BTV), they performed instrumental shows!
Another band from late 70s was Souls; they were considered to be the most famous band in Chittagong in those days. In 1988, Naqib Khan and Pilu Khan got out from Souls and formed Renaissance with Rumi, Moto, Bogi and Reza. Soon they recorded their first album; which is hugely popular till this date.
There was another band Feelings formed in mid 70s; with their brilliant guitarist/vocalist James they were quite famous in Chittagong during that time and later all over the country.
Dazzling guitarist Ayub Bacchu left Souls and formed LRB in early 90s. With Sawpan, Tutul and Joy, Little River Band recorded their first album, a double album – first of its kind, the album is still considered as a milestone in our band history. LRB is also known as Love Runs Blind.
Chimes, Prometheus, Response were other bands that were also renowned during that period.
RISE OF HEAVY METAL
The very first Metal band Waves was formed in Germany on December 25, 1981 by Iftekhar, Mahmud & Mithu. Joined by Kamal, Shafiq & Minu later days and returned to Bangladesh in 1983. The band broke up in late ’85 after Maqsud, Nutu & Milton joined the band. Waves returned in 1995 with 4 brothers Iftekhar, Ehtesham, Imtiaz, and Intekhab with Ehtesham’s friend Mushfiq joined as frontman. They released Waves Live: Purono Shrity, a studio live album. Mushfiq left the band after releasing the album. Waves appeared in a BTV live show in ’96 and that’s the last we saw the Waves until now!
“the Big 4”
With Imran Hussain and Mainul Islam on Guitars, Arshad Amin on Bass, Mahbubur Rashid on Drums, Mushfiq Ahmed and Shoeb Rahman on Vocals. Rock Strata was formed in mid-80s. They released their lone album in 1990; it was widely accepted among Hard Rock/Metal listeners. In Dhaka was another popular band during that period; the band members included lead guitarist Mashuq, lead guitarist/vocalist Joy, bassist Tushar, vocalist Gorky, drummer Rajon and on keyboards there was Santo. Their only album was equally popular among the listeners. In Dhaka and Rock Strata collaborated together and record an album in mid-90s and they released the brilliant album Elephant Road after a long time, in 2002. There is nothing new that can be said about the mighty Warfaze, everyone who’s reading this knows about their long and glorious career. It started with a blow and still presenting us brilliant music over the years. Last but not the least is Aces, one of the most talented bands but the only one of these that did not release an album even though they had almost finished it.
Two other bands Jolly Rogers and Sweet Venom were part of the scene during that period as well! Other notable bands between late-80s and early-90s: Nova, Winning, K-OZ, Ark, Lesson, Legend, Obscure, Different Touch, etc.
THE CALL OF THE HEAVY
Rock Brigade, another Heavy Metal band was formed in 1988 with a bunch Rockin’ friends. Shameem I. B. Reza, Russell Ali, Amer Hussain, Shishir, Kishore, Rubayet Choudhury Rubu, Rouben Zia Mohiuddin, Dip, Rezwan, Mamun were among the members. There has been a rumor, during one of the summer holidays they had reunited and even recorded an album; one that was never released!! Mamun, Dip and Rezwan formed Phantom Lord another Hard/Heavy Rock band in 1993, later Mamun and Rezwan formed Metal Warriors with Joy. They all did many gigs but eventually all got disbanded. Years later these two friends Mamun and Joy formed Brigade 71, which is quite famous band nowadays.
There were another set of bands by youngsters that played shows together during late 90s and lot of them started during early 90s. Even though these streams of bands started doing shows in late 90s, many of them successfully became a part of the underground phenomenon that started in early 2000.
Gibran Tanwir formed Deth Row in 1991, which did its first show in 1994 and was a huge part of underground Metal scene. Gibran had a band called Glad Tiders with Sohel and drummer Daiyan Mir, and it was a mighty good band too! So was Psychodeth, they used to do a lot of shows together.
Then, still school-going boys formed a Heavy Metal band; Cryptic Fate in early 90s led by bassist/vocalist Shakib, they released several brilliant albums including original English album, they are still goin’ strong!!
The other bands worth mentioning are Metal Maze, was another powerful band, they released two albums and they are still very active these days.
Member’s Only was formed in 1991 with some good friends living in US and UK; Reza, Ruben, Wahid, Ruben, Sadek, Sumon, Joy, Jumu, Mostaque, Mahfuz. The band broke after Sadek and Sumon passed away. The band leader Reza Khan is doing well as a jazz guitarist in US.
Ditio Syed and Sanjoy from Warfaze had a band, Sweet Venom, for a brief time during 1992-93.
X-Uranium, Koprophilia, Mission Thorpe were other remarkable Metal bands. They did a lot of shows with Cryptic Fate, Deth Row and Clovermind. Also, Punk/Funk Rock band Migraine did a lot of shows with fellow bands during 1997-2000.
Thrashold was a thrash metal band during 1994-1997. The band was led by talented musician Zia, he eventually turned into a more different musical approach, and which now we all know as today’s ever famed band Shironamhin.
Late 90s bands like Attempted Band was formed by school friends Arafat, Imran, Daniel and others; they played a lot of underground shows. Later, Daniel formed Fulbanu’s Revenge. While Arafat and Imran formed a band with Cryptic Fate members Shakib and Farhan; they turned into the Watson Brothers! The album they recorded was sounded different and not a huge success. Though it was underrated that time, few songs from that album still survived till date and are widely popular.
Clovermind was a late 90s short-lived Metal band, its drummer Tomal was yet another mighty player. Tomal formed Tantrik in 1999 (they disbanded later that year!), the rest of the band members Ershad and Lincoln formed a different band with new drummer Shaju and bassist Cezanne. This iconic band is what we all know now as Artcell. They released two albums till this date, one in 2002 and another in 2006, both albums were widely accepted among all the Rock audience. The band is in the process of recoding their much anticipated third album. Artcell was one of the bands that later led the underground music revolution!!
Dope Smuggluz founded in early 2000, but soon they changed their name into Black and added a new era in the history of Rock. They are one of the leading Alternative Rock bands in Bangladesh, they had instant success with their slightly different first album. The hugely successful band had four albums and more than a dozen singles till this date, but listeners always craving for more from the band.
There was another good band, Vibe, they won hearts of many Rock listeners with there only album. Their guitarist Oni is playing now with Warfaze.
THE UNDERGROUND GENERATION
Besides Heavy Metal bands, a lot of Alternative bands emerged in this era. If we only talk about the heavier bands Poison Green, Stentorian, Kral, ReBorn, Vibe, DNA, Dripping Gore, Neorosys, Birodh, Sentinels and Canada-based black metal band Weapon are noteworthy bands during late 90s and early 2000s. Weapon was co-formed by none other than Rock Brigade/Phantom Lord/Metal Warriors drummer Shekh Mohammed Rezwan a.k.a Nohttzver! Rezwan formed Nafarmaan later, a Black/Death Metal act. Stentorian popularized Power Metal, ReBorn became a crowd favorite, bands like DNA, Karl showed their mastery in Progressive genre. Poizon Green played a major role in playing Thrasier music! Dripping Gore was pioneer of Death Metal. Some of the other bands from the previous era like Artcell, Cryptic Fate, Metal Maze etc. were also part of this era of music scene.
One band whose players are all came from successful bands, is yet another milestone band Aurthohin, got instantly became one of the major bands, they are still one of the well known Rock bands in the country. The band was formed by Sumon aka Bassbaba, who always associated with this underground scene.
THE HEAVIER THAN HELL
Severe Dementia, Powersurge, Mechanix, Gene Split, Eclipse, Satanic and Mirror Blaze are bands from mid-2000s. Late-2000s significant Rock/Metal bands are: Karnival, Opus, Funeral Anthem, Crematic X, Shrapnel Method, Bishaurgo, Urban Fiction, Minerva, Orator, Revolutus, Breach, Icons, Firebrand. The DRockstars (a popular band competition) played a major role to popularize the Heavy Metal bands like Powersurge, Mechanix, Eclipse etc. Lot of bands came to life in this era, bands like Severe Dementia and Orator (previously Barzak) took it to a new height, they played several international shows already. It seems like, Metal bands got more heavier these days and crowd seems to prefer it like that!
Bands to look forward…
Nemesis formed in 1999 by a group of school friends. After a few changes in the line-up became Ratul, Zohad, Maher, Omayr and Dio. They released their debut album in 2005, went on to become one of the major albums of that year. The fall of 2011 saw the release of their much anticipated second studio album and it has also received a wide critical acclaim. One of the successful bands in the country right now, the expectation from this band is enormous, all eyes are on them!
Aspiring Hard Rock band Dreek formed in 2002. Since their journey with the DRockstars in 2007, the band has the experience of more than 200 shows nationwide. They are working on their first album as we are talking.
Another band to look out for, Arbovirus one of the most critically acclaimed Bangladeshi rock band formed in 2002. Vivid and flamboyant lyrics, brutal riffs and lead solos full of late 70s nostalgia with expressionism in vocal line the band has the potential to take the Rock scene to another level. They had released numerous singles and an album 2006; they are working on their next album now.
Two of the members from Warfaze made their minds to work on something diverse and formed De-illumination in 2006. The Symphonic Rock/Metal band released their debut album in 2010, this is likely to be the first concept album in Bangladeshi Rock music scene.
Shunno is a Pop Rock band, formed in 2007. They had released three albums already, all received wide acceptance among listeners and well taken by the critics.
Two of the past Stentorian vocalists formed two bands, Black Priest by Torsha and Pledge Karma by Tanim Sufyani. Black Priest had already released few singles out, also Pledge Karma has couple of online releases till now and are on the verge of recording their first album.
OUR PROUD ROCK HISTORY
From Rock Around the Clock to St. Gregorian’s school boys, to the underground scene and into an unknown practice place where the next big band is still in action, we have come a long way. But one thing is always remain the same, when we hear the thunder of a heavy metal, it hypnotize us and we raise our fist with a rebel yell – Glory to Heavy Metal and the new found dawn to our Rock music.
- Milu Aman
(as published in SONIC Music Magazine 2012)
Enrich with Authenticity!
This is the unfinished story of our band history. This is what I got so far, I wrote this by collecting information from various sources; I read quite a few about it, talked with many. Specially Arafat Kazi straighten few things for me, also the editor of SONIC help a lot with all the new bands’ information.
I feel like documenting this for the future reference of our band history. There could be lot of mistakes, please feel free provide authentic information and help me to enrich it. This is just a start, treat it like some kind of map, let’s take it to the next level and complete a full story about our Band History.
Thanks for reading! keep Rockin’
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