Tributes pour in for talented home-grown musician

SINGAPORE - Just earlier this week, guitarist Robert S.K. was talking to fellow Heritage member Atwell Jansen about musicians of the 70s and 80s who have died.

To Mr Robert's shock, his friend and band singer died in tragic circumstances just a day later following a cycling accident.

"I just spoke to him on Monday after we played together at J.J. Atlante at Duxton Road," said Mr Robert, 44, as tears rolled down his face.

"I can't believe he's gone."

Fellow Singaporean musicians were also deeply saddened by the death of Mr Jansen, who gave up a career in journalism - first as a reporter with The Straits Times and then as news editor of Travel News Asia in the 70s - to become the frontman of Heritage.

The talented musician, who also played the violin, flute and harmonica, was the longest-serving member of Heritage, who have had a following here for decades with their music which runs the gamut from blues and rock to funk, classical and jazz.

Former member Dharma, 44, who now plays for experimental rock band The Observatory, said: "I played with Heritage from 1994 to 1998 and learnt so much.

"Atwell was the best person in the world. He was kind, humble and talented, (and had) all the good values in a person."


Musician Randolf Arriola, 47, fondly recounted how he was inspired by Mr Jansen and his band.

"As a kid, I always thought they did something unique and different as musicians," he said.

"Their music has always been different and uncompromising, and represented something that is rare in Singapore.

As a musician, I owe it all to Atwell Jensen and the music he did with Heritage."

Older fans will recall the band playing in nightspots like Ion Bar in the 80s, while younger Singaporeans might have seen them perform at Crazy Elephant bar in Clarke Quay in the mid 90s.

Mr Raffy Aspier, 56, frontman of local band Jive Talkin', said Heritage have kept true to their roots up till today.

"They've not changed their style even though music has evolved so much.

That's something I really respect about them."

Mr Jansen's older brother, Ashley, 64, said the band members were still coming to terms with his death.

The bassist-singer, a cancer survivor, said: "Atwell was a very thoughtful brother. He would help me carry my instruments, for example.

"He did so much for us. He was a driving force in the band."

But Mr Robert said the show will still have to go on without him.

"I am very sad, but we all love music and I believe Atwell will want us to carry on," he said.

Get The New Paper for more stories.