S'pore musician Nizam dies from cancer

Abdul Nizam Abdul Hamid was part of local band NoNames.
PHOTO: Berita Harian

Singapore’s 1980s musicians lost a brother on Tuesday.

Abdul Nizam Abdul Hamid, 50, sang, played drums and later helped record that part of Singapore history.

Nizam, as he was best known, played for two popular local bands before turning to film-making and producing award-winning work.

The drummer and vocalist of 1980s indie band NoNames died on Tuesday evening after battling cancer.

Bandmate Vincent Lee, who now works in the automotive industry, told The New Paper that Nizam died after complications from liver, lung and pancreatic cancer.

The NoNames were formed in 1986 by Nizam and his schoolmates from Anglo-Chinese School — Lee, Choo Jong Aik and Dennis Lim.

Mr Lee told TNP that Nizam was “like a brother to me”. He said: “We had our own input in the band but he (Nizam) always had the star factor. He was the leader.”

Mr Lee said Nizam played drums on another band The Oddfellows’ debut album, Teenage Head, which was released in 1991.

Oddfellows’ lead singer Patrick Chng said in a Facebook post that Nizam also played drums for their second album, Carnival.

“I learnt how to play drums by watching Nizam,” he said in the post, which also thanked Nizam for “the memories and the good times”.

Nizam, along with Mr Lee, who was NoNames’ bassist at the time, joined The Oddfellows on tour in Malaysia to promote Teenage Head in 1992.

Mr Ivan Thomasz, administrator of the NoNames Facebook page, posted: “I will always remember Nizam as a jovial, humble and lovable man with a big, generous heart, and most of all as a soulful singer and performer who always commanded your attention every time he took to the stage with his band.”

Mr Lee added: “As a band, we were always intrigued by the arts, but he had a stronger affinity for films.”

So it did not surprise his friends when Nizam went back to school to study film-making and found his second calling.


During his final year at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nizam directed a short film called Datura, which won the Best Short Film prize at the Singapore International Film Festival in 1999.

The 18-minute film explores what it meant to be Malay and Muslim in a modern society.

Last year, Panuksmi Hardjowirogo, a producer from M’GO Films, collaborated with Nizam on an SG50 documentary called (re)Surfacing: 50 Years Of Alternative Music In Singapore.

He told TNP: “I watched his earlier films and was also aware of his past involvement in the Singapore indie music scene. “The fact that he knew many of the musicians really helped get the film made.”

On the NoNames Facebook page, condolences came from near and far.

Spain-based former Straitjacket singer Reynold Godwin Pereira dedicated Neil Young’s song Powderfinger to Nizam and NoNames.

Nizam is survived by his mother and wife.


This article was first published on June 16, 2016.
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