Charming singer Sayan dies at 60

THAILAND - After a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer, famed luk thung singer Sayan Sanya succumbed to the disease at the age of 60 yesterday.

His fans will never forget his sweet and signature greeting on stage, "Just love me a little, but please love me long".

"Please don't ever leave Sayan Sanya behind. Please continue listening to his songs and supporting his legacy," DJ Nareudom Wittayasakphan, one of his hard-core fans, said of his idol.

Because he has emulated Sayan's style, Nareudom is often dubbed "Sayan 2".

A source said Sayan - whose real name was Pornsayan Chokedeesamer - removed his own oxygen tube during his stay at Thon Buri Hospital yesterday. Doctors rushed to his bedside but were unable to save him, the source said.

He lost consciousness at his home on July 15 and was rushed to the nearest hospital. When diagnosed with cancer, he sought treatment at various hospitals including Thon Buri Hospital. His funeral will be held at Rai King Temple in Nakhon Pathom.

Just weeks ago, Sayan went to this temple to join a concert. He did not sing onstage but was healthy enough to greet his fans.

He was born on January 31, 1953 in Suphan Buri. He had loved singing luk thung music since he was a little boy. He won many awards at local singing contests.

He applied for jobs with various bands but spent several years as a little-noticed talent.

Finally, fate led him to the Ruam Porn Band. Its managers, Lek and Noisri Ingkanan, sponsored Sayan's first recording, but it did not fly high.

Sayan decided to stay on with Lek and Noisri, who also ran a petrol station, as a car washer.

While washing cars, Sayan would sing. His vocals impressed a composer, Chonlatee Tharnthong, who happened to drop by.

Chonlatee chatted with Sayan and found out about his dream to become a singer, and that Sayan also had Lek and Noisri as willing sponsors. During that encounter, Chonlatee - who would go on to become a famous composer - gave two songs to Sayan for free.

In 1973, Sayan got a band named after him. From then on, he became a best-loved luk thung singer. In 1982, he had a throat operation that left him hoarse. But his fans loved his voice even more and nicknamed him "The Charming Hoarse".

Thailand's luk thung industry has recognised Sayan, who wore a goatee, as the most popular luk thung singer since the death of Surapol Sombatcharoen.

At the height of his singing career, Sayan also played many leading roles in films.