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REMEMBERING RICHARD TAN

It was a shock to wake up today at 7am when an old friend Lizza Nakpil called asking if it was true that Richard Tan had passed away. He was a colleague in the music industry and a friend to everyone.

My first thoughts were of his family and then of his adopted family made up of his Artists: Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Typecast, ChicoSci, Gloc9, Hilera, The Youth, Teeth, Franco, and many more, some past and some present. How were they? If I was floored, what more them who saw him as a brother, father figure, best friend? He didn’t just manage their careers. He also managed their lives.

Just two days ago, I was having dinner when a text from Zach Lucero, my Radio Republic teammate, came through saying Richard was in the ICU. I called Lizza who happens to be Richard’s neighbor and I wanted to know what was going on. But she was out of town for a show and with her were PNE and Kamikazee.

I rushed over to the hospital and was able to speak to his doctor. The prognosis was meningitis but complications were cropping up and he was in critical condition. They could not ascertain what type of infection it was because they were unable to perform a lumbar puncture to test his spinal fluid. I left with a heavy heart but took solace in my faith and that Richard was still young and could fight off the infection in his brain. I checked in again yesterday and would update Chito, Aries (aka Gloc9), Lizza, and Day Cabuhat. (Day is Pupil’s manager but is also a doctor so was able to explain and better analyze the situation.) I was hopeful last night even after the doctor said he had developed a fever. His kidneys were now working and the ventilator was helping his heart.

So the news today of his passing came as a surprise. I thought he was fighting, holding on. But God apparently had another plan for him.

As I type now, I remember what it was like to lose Karl Roy a few months ago. I remember what it was like to lose Teddy Diaz, my cousin, kuya, mentor, and best friend, 24 years ago. Whether it be a few months or years, the pain doesn’t diminish. It is hard to lose someone dear to you and even harder to move on. Having been through it a few times in my life, I’ve realized that there is no easy way to handle it. The only way to get over it is to go through it.

Yes, it is a time to mourn and grieve now. But it is also a time to celebrate because although Richard has left this world, he now lives in the best place of all: up there where the music is made and played all day, where the true Giver and Creator of talent is, where he can converse with the ultimate Manager forever. He is with our God who has called Richard back to Him.

Richard touched all of our lives. In tribute to him, let us carry the torch. Let us continue to fight the fight for OPM, believing in talent like he did even when the powers-that-be say otherwise, stay strong when challenges come, stay focused when everything is rocking all around us, and stay true and sincere to the vision of sharing the music.

We owe that to him, to not let his efforts be in vain. We all supported his Artists through the years just as he worked so hard to bring their music to us. I thank him for his quiet commitment and passion for the music. We will always stand by him and his Artists.

As George Harrison sang, “All Things Must Pass,” and this shall too. Thank you, Richard. You may be gone but you will live on in the memory of the living. For you and because of you, the music will keep on playing.

OF BOB GELDOF AND BUCKING THE SYSTEM

As the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, he only had minor hits, one being “I Don’t Like Mondays, ” a story of a girl who shoots her classmates at school. But it was in 1985 that the world sat up and noticed Bob Geldof. That’s now SIR Bob Geldof, mind you.

The year before, he rounded up friends from the music industry to participate in a single to raise funds and awareness for the thousands dying of starvation in Ethiopia. The effort was called Band Aid and the song was entitled, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

http://youtu.be/bmj7KlIut1w

Big 80′s artists were present like Paul Young, Sting, Duran Duran, Bananarama, Paul Weller, Phil Collins, Boy George, George Michael, and even a not-quite-so-big-yet Bono was there, among others.

That effort spawned also the most successful single of all time, USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” written by the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.

http://youtu.be/WkjIrKjqMi8

He organized two of the biggest events in music history, Live Aid and Live 8, the latter held in 10 cities around the world that included even greater legends like Sir Paul McCartney, a reunited Pink Floyd, Robbie Williams, Madonna, and new stars like The Killers, Placebo, and Coldplay.

He is certainly more successful as an activist than as a musician but what makes Bob Geldof so inspiring is the fact that he has tirelessly utilized the power of music to create significant change in the world. Alongside partners like Bono and their ONE.org they have been able to drop the debt for some of the world’s poorest countries, no small feat when the figure is past the $500 Million mark.

I too have chosen to also walk down this music-for-advocacy path so I was thrilled when I found out that Bob Geldof would be the keynote speaker at SXSW 2011.

Needless to say, I was impressed. I was also challenged. Not only by the force of his passion but by the clarity of his thoughts and deep knowledge of the facts. I didn’t hear a preacher but a serious and concerned advocate of music who was mourning the demise of America’s great cultural contribution to the world: Rock n’ Roll Music.

Bob Geldof talked about how discovering rock music tuned him into the world, something he took a step further by not just being aware, but aware and active. He said rock music was dying because America had gone soft. Connecting music to social issues, he cited an example where each cow was given a $2 allocation for food daily when, in fact, a third of the country’s population was living off food stamps.

He spoke harshly about how complacency had become the norm. How the conformity in music reflected the way people looked at issues, no longer challenged to effect change, resigned to the reality of certain facts.

In his own words: “Rock ‘n’ roll needs to be against something. It can’t just BE. It always needs a function in which to function. Of course there are great songs. There will always be great songs that don’t suggest anything other than being a great song. But … where are our Ramones or our [Sex] Pistols today? Do we need them? Yes is the answer. Will they be found? Maybe not.”

“What’s music got to say? … I don’t hear it. Maybe I can’t hear it. I don’t hear the disgust in the music; it doesn’t have to be literal, it can be suggested. Can you imagine the ’60s without the bands interpreting the fast-moving agenda of the times? Maybe this hyper democracy of the Web simply gives the illusion of talent. Everybody has got the means to say anything they want, but nobody has anything to say.”

“People talk about the demise of the industry, and people in the industry are worried, but the industry is only a function of the music. And the music is only successful when it’s relevant. The industry will not exist on the caterwauling of divas or pretty boys with lovely mouths. This thing we call content is actually about this conversation society has with itself. Rock music provided that: It is intensely powerful, this little minor art form we occupy ourselves with. And when politics is unconvincing even as entertainment, then entertainment might be the politics of our time.”

It was an in-your-face talk, one which I wish most current “leaders” in the music industry had heard. I was reminded so much of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. “People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening, People writing songs that no one ever shared because no one dared disturb the sound of silence.”

In my mind, there is music around but does it really uplift and inspire whether it be in the language and form of rock, pop, or rap? I wouldn’t make sweeping generalizations because there are still quite a number of artists who care and make every effort to impart something truthful and meaningful.

But I couldn’t have agreed with Sir Bob more. People HAVE gone soft. When the main topics in mind are how to sell or how much to sell, then it ceases to be about the Artist and his/her craft. Bring on the bean counters and naysayers.

The so-called “demise” of the music industry is really only true because it’s become all about form and not function. Music should exist as an extension and reflection of people’s hearts and souls. When it becomes about sales and not substance then that does signal a death bell. When cash is the driving thought, then creativity does go out the window.

Yes, a hit can be made in a flash but it may never become a classic, one that will live on as a soundtrack to someone’s life. Let the conversation be about the music being created and its message, about how much its value is to a person and not to a company.

That is what was great about SXSW: people were, in essence, still music fans, concerned about the music, eager to let the musicians succeed, for the creativity to continue. It was about finding solutions and not dwelling on problems. And that, in itself, is inspiring. I wish there were more Bob Geldofs around who still challenge and light fires under people’s chairs.

So, let’s bring back the music. To paraphrase The Who, let’s not get fooled again.

Check out Bob Geldof’s entire talk here:

http://youtu.be/Avcq1n1gWUg

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