Hit maker's last hurrah

Hit maker's last hurrah
Taiwanese songwriter Liu Chia-chang (above).

SINGAPORE - Taiwan's Liu Chia-chang, 73, is a towering figure in the world of Mandopop, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.

The singers he helped turn into stars lit up the music scene and included top names such as Fong Fei-fei, Liu Wen-cheng and YuYa.

The songwriter has reportedly composed more than 2,000 songs and, by one count, over 200 were hits. Classics such as Seagull, Dream Behind The Curtain, Meilan Meilan I Love You, Where Is My Home and Memories Can Only Be Reminisced were part of the soundtrack of an era.

And after more than 30 years, he will be holding a concert in Singapore on Sept 20. More than 80 per cent of the tickets have been sold.

He tells Life! over the telephone: "I am a bridge to memories. People come, not for me, but for the songs they are familiar with."

There will also be a special treat for audiences that night. He says: "I recently wrote some new songs and they have not been released yet.

"In the past, I was never a singer and never had the chance to release them at media conferences, so this is a final chance for me to do so and give everyone a CD souvenir."

He speaks fondly of his fans in the region. "Without support from fans from Singapore and Malaysia, I wouldn't be where I am today and I want to express my gratitude in person. It's been 50 years and people still remember me."

And he remembers well his time in Singapore from three decades ago.

He recalls: "I used to stay at the Mandarin Hotel in Orchard Road and I'll never forget the Hainanese chicken rice at the cafe there. I like Singapore a lot but it's too far. I can pop a sleeping pill on a flight to the United States but I can't do so on a five-hour-plus flight."

In the past few years, he has done a series of farewell concerts in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Las Vegas and the timing was right to do one here. He was also touched by concert promoter Cai Yiren and his wife Huang Guixia flying to Hong Kong to persuade him to do so.

Liu adds: "I was very surprised they could sing even my lesser-known tracks. I was very moved."

All this talk of nostalgia and the past might suggest that Liu is a sentimental person but, in fact, the opposite is true. He is not precious about his chosen craft and is pragmatic about the fact that he is in the pop music business.

Asked where he gets inspiration to compose and he says: "I don't really need inspiration anymore. It's become my career and I suppose a chef doesn't need inspiration to cook either."

Liu, who is twice married, adds: "I don't have that many romances. How many love stories can you have in order to write so many love songs? So sometimes, I'll just make something up and write it."

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