Rock of ages

He is the poster boy of classic rock, or, as other music enthusiasts fondly say, the rockstar of the city. At 61, his voice is still sonorous. 

Published: 22nd January 2020 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2020 06:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: He is the poster boy of classic rock, or, as other music enthusiasts fondly say, the rockstar of the city. At 61, his voice is still sonorous. Thiruvananthapuram-based musician Nandu Leo’s musical journey began decades ago. As he gears up to organise the yearly gig ‘Music for Peace’, city’s music aficionados are waiting with baited breath. 

The annual music festival organised by Nandu Leo and friends will be a platform to  walk down the memory lane and listen to the evergreen classic rock songs of the 70s and 80s.Perhaps, there is no one else who is as revered and considered the face of rock music in the city as Nandu Leo. Yet, it would come as a surprise that the man never really had any formal training. Back when he forayed into western music, Nandu visited a well known music composer of Malayalam cinema who was well versed in Carnatic music to learn voice control.

But it never really took off. The class ended the very same day it began, when Nandu told the musician that he sang at a hotel. He was asked to never step into the class again. Though his mother was a classical singer, it was western music that beckoned Nandu. And it was through listening to the greats that he trained himself. In the late 70s, he had his first concert in VJT Hall. It was in 1977 that he formed his first band ‘Bahnkruger’. “We were the first band to play our own compositions. And we were looked down upon,” he recalls. Hence, the band performed its original compositions masquerading them as newly released pieces of established bands. In those days with no internet, they could easily pull it off. “Some fun,” Nandu chuckles. In those days,

the rock culture in the city was at its peak. “Back in the days we had only tapes and LPs. You get a Bob Marley tape, it was passed among everyone in your circle. People would listen on a loop to mug up the lyrics. And by the time we performed a cover, we couldn’t make a single mistake. Even friends would boo if we messed up. That is what made me stay back in the city. I thought this place was going to be great. But I never expected rock will vanish from here. It is terrible,” he says. And yet, maybe to reminisce the good old times that Nandu organises the gig ‘Music for Peace’ annually.

This year, the gig is being held at Vyloppilli Samskruthi Bhavan. The band Nandu Leo and Friends will perform on January 26. Antony Isaacs of Isaacs family will be on rhythm guitar and vocals. Cindy Nandakumar, Nandu’s daughter, will also be singing at the concert. The show will feature Sunil Silvester (lead guitar, backing vocals), Garry Lobo (keyboards), Binny Isaac (bass guitar) and Shibu Samuel (drums, percussion).The show will start at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at `450 and are available at major retail shops in the city.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp