Little did I know that ‘the Grotesque in a hat’ would tremble the nation terribly after his demise! I knew less of this musician yet there is nothing new that I can scribble here as Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger have made everything at our fingertips in Wiki. Narcissistic I just am pulling out all the stops to squeeze a drop of very personal ignorant thought in words from my experience.
From ‘Ugly boys’ through ‘Feelings’, searching ‘Souls’ the Grotesque finally finds that ‘Love Runs Blind’. Afterwards, which made him a sombre dissatisfied romantic lord Byron in his songs — if you closely listen to his lyrics. And Homines sapientes embraced this lord! An enthralling musician, who neither could come out of his own unceasing vogue nor his attitude till the sun died.
Not much of the reminiscences that I may recall him from, although back in 90s, I experienced the topsy-turvy, vitiated, wrecked neighbourhood big-boys — locally called ‘cadre/mastan’ — would listen to his songs in loudspeakers at the corner of every alleyway of our semi-urban living scenes as well as their longing for love and many broken-hearts in blues. In 1992, the Grotesque gunslinger drew his guns and fired the first ever double album: LRB I and LRB II together. In mid-90s, as far as I am able to reminisce about one of his songs — ‘Nirobe’ from the album of Screwdrivers — I vocalised the chorus part well-nigh a hundred times.
“Opobad dao aamay
Jeno jwole jwole hariye jai
Obhishap dao aamay
Jeno nirobe furiye jai, nirobe…”
If I am asked, “Was he a successful musician in a mass?” I will say as sure as eggs is eggs, “Yes, he was.” The Rockstar flourishingly mastered the 6-string with prodigious technical abilities and has released innumerable songs yet where I give a bit of thought is, as he was tremendously influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Rusty Coolie, Steve Moore, and et al. as well as improvising western music in their playing styles to a great extent that his own sui generis manner of playing and inner-music disappeared, I opine. Robin’s singing style has always resembled aadhunik (modern) Bengali musicians that he had an influence from. Aadhunik Bengali singing style in western rock music reflects his aristocratic demeanour which distinguishes the Grotesque from others. Yes! It often amazed me that how this Grotesque man could sing!
Indian musician Prabuddha Banerjee said, “I found his voice extremely romantic and I always wondered if he could sing Bengali retro numbers. In fact, though he was a rock musician, his style of singing always captured the romanticism of aadhunik Bangla gaan”. His high-pitched screaming in ‘Gotokal Raate’ and ‘Khoniker Jonyo’ from the album Sukh truly astonished me! Back in the day, his ballads, including ‘Shei Tumi’, garnered Brobdingnagian popularity amongst youngsters. “Shei tumi keno eto ochena holey is not just another song to me. It is a part of my life, my nostalgia. It is the first ‘Opaar Bangla’ song that left an indelible impression in the mind of a teenager. I would borrow our neighbour’s tape recorder and keep listening to it on holidays. I remember rewinding and playing to write the lyrics in the blood-red diary that I maintained,” said Roopsha Ray Dasgupta — a brand consultant who personally knew the Grotesque. LRB performed more than thousands of gigs (nearly 500+ open air & 2000+ indoor) at home and abroad. They went for their first international tour in the USA and they played at 7 states. LRB is the only Bangali Rock Band that played their music in the famous Madison Square Garden (New York) which should be quite noteworthy.
Through his voyage from the first guitar given by his father, his friend’s Teisco Guitar, his Burmese teacher Jacob Dayas, and ‘Ugly Boys’ to ‘Love Runs Blind’ the rock sensation anchored in the harbour of love and taking the rough with the smooth he finally tied the knot with his belov’d — quite a dramatic triumph, I must say! Surprisingly, listening to his songs who’d think that he’d been reciting the Song of Solomon (7:2) “Your navel is a rounded goblet; it never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by the lilies” to his lov-d one! La dolce vita indeed.
I could write more, but when all is said and done, in loving memory of the Grotesque, I’d rather quote from ‘Lycidas’ by John Milton —
But O! the heavy change now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone and never must return!
What we keep in our memory is ours unchanged fore’er. (R.I.P)
“Live your life, do your work, then take your hat” – Henry David Thoreau