On March 19, 1989, a diminutive Malaysian singer rocked the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London, with one of the most stirring performances of the evening, and walked away as Asia’s Best Performer at the inaugural Asian Music Awards. Pitted against more famous and accomplished singers from the region, Sudirman Arshad endearingly and artistically rendered an originally-composed number and mesmerised his audience, just as he had always done from the age of 12.
Multi-talented Sudirman was a lawyer, television host, writer, cartoonist, actor, entrepreneur, and became the only Asian singer to record an English single at London’s Abbey Road Studios, and have it released in Britain and the US. In 1985, Sudirman drew a massive 100,000-crowd to his concert on one of Kuala Lumpur’s busiest roads. Dubbed the Chow Kit Road concert, the feat has never been matched or replicated.
But in July 1991, Sudirman suddenly collapsed during a concert, and seven months later, was dead. He was only 37. By then, Sudirman had won every major music and entertainment award in Malaysia, and the hearts of thousands of fans from Singapore to Tokyo, from New Zealand to Hawaii.