Bappi Lahiri, an Indian composer, who combined the melodies of Bollywood movie plots with the brilliance of disco electronic orchestral sounds, created a pop craze in India that made him famous Nicknamed the “King of the Disco”, passed away on February 15 in Mumbai. He was 69 years old.
His son, Bappa, arranger, manager and band member, said the cause was obstructive sleep apnea.
Mr. Lahiri was a rising pop artist in 1979 when he traveled to the United States to perform a series of gigs for Indian-American audiences. While there, he toured nightclubs in San Francisco, Chicago and New York and caught the disco craze in America in the final months. In New York, he bought a Moog synthesizer, so many drum machines and other musical equipment that it filled two cabs.
Upon returning home, his experiments with those instruments culminated with the career-making soundtrack of the hit movie, “Disco Dancer” (1982). It’s a disco musical – solid bass bands under soaring trumpets and strings – and a declaration of love for the genre. In one scene, a crowd goes mad and the protagonist, a superstar disco musician, spells out the word “disco” and reads it.
“Disco Dancer,” which traces the rise to stardom of a young street hedgehog named Jimmy and its battle with a family of thugs, became the first Indian film to earn 1 billion rupees (nearly US$30 billion today) and its soundtrack helped fuel disco hysteria in India.
It also fueled the career of sad-eyed, flowing star, Mithun Chakraborty, and spawned two of the most poignant dance tunes in Indian pop history, ever sung by Mr. . On-screen Chakraborty: “I Am a Disco Dancer” and “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja.”
Long after the movie hit theaters, those songs persisted all over India. At weddings, they are known to inspire everyone from elderly aunts to friends of the groom boogie on the dance floor.
Mr. Lahiri created many of his disco songs with recognizable Indian tunes, and he soon realized he was hitting a winning formula, which led to 1980s hits like “I’m a street dancer,” “Super Dancer” and “Disco Station Disco Station.” He earned a place in the Limca Book of Records, which recognizes the worldwide achievements of Indians, by recording soundtracks for 37 films in 1987 alone.
He also developed a celebrity fashion sense that was inspired by his boyhood homage to Elvis. The look includes colored sunglasses worn indoors and out, a velvet tracksuit and shiny coat wrapped around his neck, and a pile of gold jewelry hanging from his neck.
“I remember once a man refused to accept me as Bappi Lahiri,” he used to told The Times of India, “because I put on my coat to keep out the cold and he couldn’t see my gold chain”.
Bappi Lahiri was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on November 27, 1952. His parents, Aparesh Lahiri and Bansur (Chakravarty) Lahiri, were singers who met while performing for the public broadcaster All India Radio. . As a child, Bappi showed a talent for playing the tabla, a traditional Indian drum, and on the recommendation of a famous singer. Lata Mangeshkarhe studied with master tabla Samta Prasad.
His family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) when he was a teenager to further develop Bappi’s career. There he found a powerful ally in the family’s spiritual guru, Amiya Roy Chowdhury, who gave him a letter of introduction to the Bollywood star Dev Anand.
Mr. Lahiri’s decades-long songwriting career extends beyond disco to include classical Indian forms such as the ghazal. In total, he is said to have composed about 9,000 songs that appeared in more than 600 films. During his most productive period, he would set up four studios in one day and employ up to 100 musicians for a single song.
In addition to his son, Mr. Lahiri is survived by his wife, Chitrani (Mukherjee) Lahiri, whom he married in 1977; his mother; a daughter, Rema Bansal; and two grandsons.
Although interest in disco had waned in the United States by the time Mr. Lahiri rose to fame, he had become a central part of the disco phenomenon elsewhere, notably the Soviet Union. “Disco Dancer” was one of the most popular films in the Soviet Union, and Lahiri’s songs are still standard in musical performances on Russian TV.
During the 2018 football World Cup in Russia, a journalist of India’s Fast News Service establish the country is full of “Jimmy” fans.
“Everybody knows him where I come from,” said a local fan, identified only as Yuri, as he took out his phone. “Let me show you which of his songs are my favorites.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/world/asia/bappi-lahiri-dead.html Bappi Lahiri, India’s ‘disco king’, dies aged 69