I hardly recall the time when I was in the age of wearing short pants and the seeds of rock ‘n’ roll were planted in me during that time by my uncle who used to know some of the then rock stars who are legends now. Still our generation always tends to know about the legacy of Bangla rock music. And I feel proud that we Bangladeshis have our own ‘Knopfler or Gilmour’ than any other lands of South Asia.
Basically, Bangla rock took its form in ‘60s and ‘70s and was influenced by the American and British rock ‘n’ roll music. In the mid ‘60s, blues rock was introduced by Zinga, which was formed in 1963. After that, The Windy Side of Care was the first rock band formed in Dhaka. Fazle Rob, while studying in St Gregory School formed the band. The Lightnings was another band from Chittagong (now Chattogram). It was formed by students of St Placid High School. Surprisingly, they had the highest quality instruments like Fender guitars and amps, Ludwig drums and VOX keyboards at that time in the country. After the War of Independence, the team disbanded and bassist Farid Rashid along with Happy Akhand formed the band Miles. That time, famous Dhallywood actor Zafar Iqbal formed his own band Rambling Stones, before he was an actor. He was inspired by the king of rock ‘n’ roll Elvis Presley. His band used to perform every Saturday and Sunday night in the Hotel Intercontinental and Dhaka Club. Many of us have no idea that they were the first band to perform English songs in Bangladesh.
From early to mid ‘70s pop rock music was introduced by Uchcharon, Souls, Feedback and Miles. And most importantly, Azam Khan’s band Uccharon introduced drums, guitars and keyboards into their renditions of local music. The listeners of Bangladesh had never heard anything like it. Uccharon is considered to be the greatest band in the country. With his long hair, bell-bottom jeans, stadium concerts and powerful lyrics, Azam Khan became a pop phenomenon. Souls was another band which is considered as one of the most important bands of all time, and the band was influenced by The Beatles.
From the mid ‘80s to the early ‘90s, hard rock became more popular. Miles was the only band performed hard rock for the first time in Dhaka. They performed several numbers of Iron Maiden which was rocking to people. Different Touch was also active during the late ‘80s. Their famous hit number was ‘Sraboner Meghgulo’.
The era also witnessed the emergence of musicians such as Ayub Bachchu who formed Love Runs Blind (LRB) and solo performers like Tapan Chowdhury and Kumar Bishwajit. Unfortunately, Bachchu breathed his last in October 2018.
In the ‘90s, hard rock and heavy metal broke through the mainstream with bands like LRB, Feelings, Ark, Warfaze etc. Feelings was formed in 1978 by Faruq Mahfuz Anam (James). They were the first psychedelic band in the region. It was formed when vocalist James was only 13 years old. Rock legend Ayub Bachchu also worked with Feelings from ‘78 to ‘82. In 2000, Feelings changed their name to Nagar Baul. Their last album was released in 2001, which was ‘Dushtu Chheler Dol’.
After the year till now, we all know that rock music helped to change Bangladesh. Our music scene has changed a lot. But now there’s only a little room left for it.