Veteran musician Ooi Eow Jin will be performing for the last time today at the Colonial Cafe in Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, The Star reported.Fans can catch the 77-year-old Penang-born pianist’s performance from 3pm to 6pm for the final set of a residency which began in December 2012, the daily reported.Many of today’s music fans may not recognise his name but in his heyday, he was a much sought-after musician and at the zenith of his career, he had performed with Sudirman Arshad and P. Ramlee.
“I’ve been playing since 1963. I’ve been doing this for so long,” Ooi had said in an interview with The Malaysian Insider two years ago.The Penang-born pianist made his foray into the music industry when he secured part-time gigs at the famous Eastern & Oriental in Penang.Ooi went on to spend 17 years at the RTM Orchestra, a formative period in his life where he earned his chops as an adept music arranger.And as fate would have it, it was also during his RTM stint that he met Sudirman, at that time a budding singer.
Ooi is credited for writing the first song Sudirman recorded inside a studio, the soul-pop number, “Teriring Doa”, and another Sudirman hit, “Gerimis di Lautan”.Then there’s also the tour he did with P. Ramlee of the army barracks in Borneo in 1965, where the duo entertained the armed forces.“P. Ramlee was also a very good friend of mine. We were both from Penang, so we could speak the island’s lingo, and he was a very humble guy, very ‘cincai’. He could even eat a meal with you at a roadside stall… he was that humble,” Ooi had said in the interview.
But despite all these accolades, recognition somehow slips Ooi’s grasp. For him disappointments are par for the course for someone who has dedicated so much to the local music industry.“You know, I never get tired of playing, after all these years. I can’t retire. How to retire, you tell me? I will play until I cannot play anymore,” he had concluded. – June 30, 2015.