PETALING JAYA, April 16 — The local music scene lost one of its best bass players, Jim Madasamy, who passed away this morning from a heart failure.
It was learnt the founding member of the legendary Blues Gang in the late 1970s collapsed as he was about to go cycling. He was 68.
Blues Gang drummer Shaik Karim, who co-founded the band with Madasamy, was at a loss for words when contacted today.
“We have so many good memories together. We grew up together in Kampung Pasir, Johor Baru.
“We started from scratch until people knew us and we became recording artists. I’m very, very sad,” said the devastated musician.
Blues Gang held a fundraiser last November for Madasamy who suffered from primary progressive aphasia, a neurological syndrome that impairs language ability.
Karim recalled how Madasamy was struggling with memory loss as he battled the illness and seemed to have forgotten how to play a lot of chords to songs.
“We had so many good years together until the end of his life. Good and bad, sadness and happiness. I’m at a loss for words.
“He wasn’t just a friend, he was like a brother to me,” he said.
Blues Gang lead singer Ito Mohd told Malay Mail he was deeply saddened by the loss of his friend of 30 years.
“I’ve lost one of my best friends in life. I’m quite sad. I’ve known him since 1978,” Ito said, speaking from his home in Melaka.
“There are so many memories — we played so many gigs together. I remember one time we went to Australia but Jim had to go back because of a visa issue that made him quite mad.
Ito last met Madasamy at the Jam for Jim Blues Gang ― The True Blues Man fundraiser event five months ago.
“He took time to recognise me last year. We had stayed together for a long time previously. When he didn’t recognise me at first, I knew it was because of the sickness,” he said.
The Blues Gang are historically regarded as one of Malaysia’s most original bands who were most active during the 1980s.
Apo Nak Di Kato, noted for lyrics sang in Negri Sembilan dialect, is the group’s most popular song while Oh! Mama, Saya Mahu Kahwin, Mak Siti and Lagu Tiga Kupang are other familiar hits.
In 2016, they were inducted into the Malaysia Book of Records as the country’s ‘Oldest Blues Band’.
Tributes have poured in on Facebook throughout the day for Madasamy from friends and fellow musicians in the local music scene.
Lee Boon Siew wrote a touching post remembering a reserved, albeit great storyteller.
“Although he was a man of few words, Jim was a great storyteller. And he had kept all the old sepia-tinted photos of life on the road.
“That was one trait I recognised in Jim: his innate ability to tell a story in such rich detail that you wonder what really goes on in his mind. And he told his stories with such blunt honesty,” Lee wrote.
“RIP blues brother. And keep the rhythm section going wherever you are now.”
Another musician Gerard Singh said, “We have lost one of the nicest people in the local music industry, a true gentleman. Thank you so very much for the years of wonderful music.”
Madasamy’s body will be taken back to Johor Baru where he will be buried. Funeral details are yet to be confirmed.