Story from Beyond

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-4 19:03:01

Fans honor Wong Ka-kui by singing Beyond's songs in Hong Kong on June 29. Photo: CFP

Fans honor Wong Ka-kui by singing Beyond's songs in Hong Kong on June 29. Photo: CFP

Chinese rock devotees will never forget the date, June 30, 1993. That was when Wong Ka-Kui, the lead vocalist and songwriter of Hong Kong rock band Beyond, died from head injures suffered six days earlier when the singer fell off a stage while on a game show in Japan. The day marked a sudden end of the peak "Wong Ka-Kui period" of Beyond.

Twenty years have passed, yet Beyond remains a symbol of energetic youth. Songs of Beyond were intricately linked to people's lives in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now people are still talking about Beyond and singing their songs, especially fans born in the 1970s and 1980s. They commemorate Wong Ka-Kui and Beyond in June because Wong was born on June 10 and also died in June.

To mark the special anniversary, Wong Ka-Keung called on his star friends including Faye Wong and Andy Lau to post their theme photos online as birthday gifts for his late brother in May.

Also, Leslie Chan, the group's former agent, will release a biography and a photo album later this year according to a report by The Beijing News. And Beyond band member Yip Sai-Wing worked out a musical selection for Wong Ka-Kui called Carrying on the Torch with their former producer, and will hold a solo concert under that title on Saturday at the Music Zone in Hong Kong.

'The Beatles of Hong Kong'

Some of Beyond's fans prefer to call the band "The Beatles of Hong Kong" for their profound impact and longevity. They talk about the similarities of the two remarkable bands: the various themes of their original songs, their great commercial success and the tragic ends of their figureheads.

"When Ka-Kui and I met in a musical instrument store in 1981... Ka-Kui was a fan of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Genesis and Pink Floyd, while I liked Deep Purple, Rush, Led Zeppelin and Yes… we played music and communicated together, rather than forming a band at that time," said Yip Sai-Wing on his Weibo.

Beyond tried various types of underground rock in the early days. When they signed with record company in 1986, they changed into a more acceptable rock band for the public.

To cater to the demands of the golden era of Hong Kong showbiz in late 1980s and 1990s, many singers reworked foreign pop songs, performing cover versions with Chinese lyrics. In those days of producing music quickly, the insistence of composing original songs made Beyond especially precious. Beyond IV broke the highest sales records in Canto-pop reaching double platinum in 1989.

Wong Ka-Kui chose a wide range of topics for the themes of the band's songs, including ideals, motherly love, criticizing social issues, patriotism, peace and anti-discrimination. Beyond showed respect to the famous freedom fighter Nelson Mandela in their original song "Glorious Days" in 1991. Another 1991 song, "Amani," included lyrics in the Kenyan language calling for peace and love. The views expressed in the songs attracted the warm-blooded young generation.

"To the teenage me back then, Ka-Kui's death was even more devastating than Kurt Cobain… the band's music was a shining beacon of light in a music industry filled with generic love songs, manufactured pop stars and unoriginality," Michael Cheang wrote for The Star Online, a Malaysian news website, on Sunday.

A long farewell

After Wong Ka-Kui's death, the remaining members, Wong Ka-Keung, Paul Wong and Yip Sai-Wing, kept on pursuing their music careers. The trio released some albums featuring a mixture of songs by Wong Ka-Kui and the remaining members, and their concerts still drew crowds.

In 2005, Beyond held a farewell concert tour and announced that they would split up to work individually. Rumors spread about a disagreement among the members. However, commemorative performances and activities by the band members and their fans are still held year after year.

Wong Ka-Keung wrote the new song "I Will Be Fine" for his late brother Wong Ka-Kui and held a fans meeting in Beijing last Saturday. When asked about his argument with another band member Paul Wong, Wong Ka-Keung refused to comment. "Though we are not working as a team now, it doesn't mean any of us lose the spirit of Beyond," Wong Ka-Keung told in an interview.

Leslie Chan, the first agent of Beyond from 1986 to 1992, told The Beijing News that a biography and a photo album will be released this year to mark the group's 30th anniversary.

"We began to write about Beyond's history six or seven years ago, and we published some material on Weibo in 2011... Many fans are still eager to know more about Beyond's story, and some of the information found online is not correct. Holding a nostalgic concert is not the only way to commemorate Ka-Kui. What we are doing is helping people to understand Beyond's music," said Chan.

Global Times

Posted in: Miscellany

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