PETALING JAYA, April 28 — Malaysian music pioneer Joe Siva, or Sivamohan Sinnathamby, 62, passed away on Tuesday night after being admitted to Kuala Lumpur Hospital on April 6 due to lung cancer.
His only daughter from his first marriage, Sheena Francine Devi, 30, said they were still in shock since her father did not show any signs of illness until a month ago.
“He was well and full of life. He suffered from upper back pain three months ago, but he didn’t want to go to the hospital because it was not severe. He relied on painkillers.”
Sheena, who works in the anaesthesia and intensive care unit at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, started to notice her father’s loss of appetite and weight loss in March.
“His condition worsened, so we admitted him. He was discharged five days later and appeared fine,” she said.
Joe’s health deteriorated rapidly when he returned home and was readmitted on April 6 for some tests. A biopsy confirmed Joe was suffering from stage four lung cancer.
“His health continued to deteriorate and he slipped into a coma,” Sheena said.
“Last Friday, he woke up from his coma and responded to some of his friends and family members who visited him. He even asked for coffee and iced Milo.”
However, Joe later slipped back into a coma and took his last breath on Tuesday.
“Papa didn’t know he had cancer until the end. We had too many beautiful memories.”
Sheena said she was happy for the opportunity to show her father around her workplace and spend quality time with him.
“He was going to be 62 on June 19. His last words revolved around work and things that needs to get done. His enthusiasm in work is admirable.”
Joe was married to Wong Siew Kim, 47, for more than 20 years.
The wake was held yesterday at Fairy Park Funeral Parlour in Klang, Selangor, while the funeral service and cremation ceremony will be held at 10am today.
Astro Radio chief executive officer Datuk Jake Abdullah was a 15-year-old schoolboy when he was told of a “master DJ” by the name of Joe Siva at a time when “no one could mix (blend songs)”.
“He was spinning in a club called Atlantis in Damansara Utama and I went with my schoolbag and asked him to teach me.
“For three months, all I did was sweep the floors, and clean the records — Mr Miyagi had nothing on him,” Jake said.
“He kept his word and after three months, he introduced the SL-D2 turntable to me and taught me to mix. I took to it like fish to water, and worked with him in the clubs.”
In 1988, Jake won the Malaysian DeeJay contest in Caesar’s Club and formed the four-member Krash Kozz, Malaysia’s premier rap act under Joe’s tutelage.
Jake took his love for DJ-ing to the next level with Joe heading to the United
States to acquire the rights to the DMC/Technics World DJ Championships in the mid-90s.
“He was always a DJ at heart, even as he branched into artist management,” Jake said.
Having met Joe last year, Jake said Joe was passionate and particular about the art of mixing.
“I never saw him age. He was the same guy who always talked about good music and appreciation for it,” Jake said.
“A lot of DJs need to realise his legacy lives on in us. I was his number one and only student at that time. I have passed on my knowledge to the current crop of DJs — so it really all traces back to him.”
Vocalist of rock band and co-founder of Lost Souls, Ridzuan Hameed, also known as One, 44, remembers Joe as the man who was always open to working with untested young acts.
“Joe’s Valentine Sound Production (VSP) was the last label I took our music to, after being dismissed by all the big boys who didn’t believe a local English album would sell,” One said.
“That’s when I met Joe, who was handling their artistes and repertoires. I passed him our demo and called him every day until I think he finally gave in and signed us on for a one-year, one-album deal.
“He was the one who gave us a shot, took care of us and made us what we are,” One said.
The band’s remake of Bread’s Everything I Own was the first English track by a Malaysian band which dominated mainstream radio — and Lost Souls basked in their newfound fame, even opening for Bon Jovi’s concert in front of more than 50,000 people at Stadium Shah Alam in 1995.
The band went on to record two more albums — the second under VSP and the third under Attitude Records, founded by Joe.
“I haven’t seen Joe for the last few years.
“What I remember about him is that he was someone who gave a break to those who needed one when nobody else would.”