- A tribute to Desmond de Silva
The last few years have snatched away some of Sri Lanka’s finest musicians – ones who revolutionised the music industry and paved the way for today’s stars. Desmond de Silva was one such legend. Known famously around the country as the “King of Baila”, a name that he acquired over his four decades of performing after his once youthful voice changed into what most have called a swoon-worthy timbre.
An entertainer as much as he is a musician, he was gone too soon, having passed away on 9 January at the age of 77.
Brunch spoke to some of his close friends and fans who shared a few fond words and memories.
Desmond has been a superstar in our lives: Janith Perera
The Co-founder and Director of Bourne Innovations (Pvt.) Ltd. bid farewell to whom he believes to be one of the greats that ever performed on stage. “The baila party at heaven surely got a little louder now that he’s gone,” he told us, when recalling how much of a jolly spirit de Silva had.
He also shared: “Our dear Desmond has been a true superstar in our lives and without him, I doubt his Sumihiri Pane will echo in our shows to come and that’s something you can’t take away.”
Heaven has gained another angel: Edith Boustead
Edith Boustead shared that she is like family to her Uncle Desmond but he isn’t related to them; they have just been close as her father-in-law was from the Spitfires band.
Sharing a fond memory she had with him, she told us about having de Silva write a special song for her and her husband Trent, and he had sung it for her first dance at her wedding.
She affirmed that heaven has gained another angel, adding that she and Trent will forever treasure the beautiful song he wrote for them on their wedding day. “Our first dance was so special because of him. Over the years we have treasured so many happy times and memories with both him and Aunty Phyllis,” she commented, adding that his smile and laughter was contagious and his legacy of songs will live on forever.
“Your legacy will never be forgotten. May you rest peacefully.”
He rocked the stages of Sri Lanka: Bathiya Jayakody
Bathiya Jayakody, from the pop duo BnS, said that Desmond de Silva is a musician that we’ve all heard and danced to since we were young. “He was unparalleled to anyone else on stage. He rocked the stages of Sri Lanka during the ‘70s and ‘80s; he was the king of the stage,” he expressed.
Jayakody also told us that in a time when most English musicians in Sri Lanka wouldn’t sing baila or Sinhala dance music, de Silva was one that boldly went ahead with those genres. “Even at the age of 77, when he walked on stage, he still commandeered that personality and charisma that he was known for throughout the decades. He brought the entire entertainer package to the stage,” Jayakody shared.
He added that he, along with the rest of the country, will dearly miss him and that he hopes de Silva is in a good place and at peace.
His loss will never be replaced: Channa Attygala
Guitarist and musician Channa Attygala told us that he met Desmond De Silva for the very first time in 1983, when they were the backing band. “I still remember what we learned from him from that day until his last breath,” he said, adding that it’s not just baila that he was great at – he was a superb western singer too.
Attygala added that he was a truly humble human being and he believed that this was the factor that brought him up to this level. “His loss will never be replaced. His contribution towards the music industry will never be erased from our minds. We will miss you Desmond Aiyya. May you RIP,” he said.