With a home studio created, Desmond has continued to entertain his fans through a series of virtual concerts. Created and coordinated by Different Marketing Agency to lift spirits up through the pandemic Desmond has reached many fans, engaging with them in his own inimitable style.
2020 was set to be a packed year for Desmond with engagements here and overseas scheduled in his calendar up to December. Phyllis & Des returned to Sydney after two successive gigs in the UK which had them away and returning just in time to beat travel restrictions.
As the pandemic spread across Europe, the first casualty gigs were the two scheduled in April in Milan & Paris over the Easter season. Flights and venues were cancelled and Des & Phyllis settled into enjoying life at home after years of constant travel.
Des jokes that he now had so much time on his hands that he had resorted to cutting the grass with a pair of scissors!
However, a constant stream of calls from fans around the world desperate for entertainment saw Different Marketing put a program of virtual concerts together which had Desmond in a Studio created at home, putting in the practice and embracing a new way of communicating and entertaining his fans.
‘These concerts are ongoing until this challenging year is out’ says Desmond with planned Christmas specials next month.
‘I am also engaged in laying tracks down for 2 new CDs and am working on a concept created by Different Marketing for an unique concert in Sri Lanka when travel permits. So the enforced travel has provided me with interesting projects that keep me occupied and in touch with my music and my fans’.
The past six years since celebrating his 50 years in music has been increasingly busy. There have been some standout highlights. The Spitfires reunited in 2015 in a “Time is Tight’ tour of Australia. It was an emotional time for the members of the band, Budrin, Hassan, Dalrene, Maxine, Sohan, Felix and Mohan and of course Desmond, got together to practice for a week before the tour. Desmond recalls the 3 weeks fondly as most of the band members were accommodated in his home. Band practice was serious sessions but then fun evenings over drinks and dinners reminiscing on the band’s hey days at Ceylinco were topped with singing and much laughter.
Another highlight was the “Together Again 2018 tour of Australia by Desmond & The Clan. Here again the band members were accommodated with Desmond & Phyllis and music, reminiscing and laughter were the order of the day. Breakfast time had everyone round the table joyously eating a variety of breakfast favourites. Desmond’s speciality was ensuring perfectly cut fresh fruit and a killer Pol Sambol which went well together with the fresh buttered bread rolls bought each day from the Bakery round the corner by Kitta who delighted in a morning stroll to the bakery.
Desmond also recalls the 2 years consecutive Dinner Dances in Nottingham UK hosted by the Dayada Sri Lanka Kidney Foundation. They were both fund raising events that exceeded expectations in guest attendance and the funds that were raised.
An unique event hosted by Suminda Ranatunge for the Sri Lankan community in Dublin, Ireland was another unexpected highlight as many guests had more than a 3 hour drive to attend the event. ‘It was very rewarding to perform to an audience that had made the effort to travel so far and who came to have a good time’ says Desmond. They were not disappointed as Des had them on the dance floor from the moment he got on stage.
Desmond celebrated a significant birthday in 2019 with a concert at the BMICH in Colombo produced by Damayantha Kuruppu. Desmond was keen to use the occasion to lift the spirits of Sri Lankan’s after the Easter Sunday Massacre. This event was special to Desmond as he had the chance to once again perform with Ishan Bahar – the person who inspired him to become a singer.
With the enforced travel restrictions in place there has also been time for quiet reflection. ‘I have had the time to think of the huge body of work I have been fortunate to own. I have had amazingly talented lyric writers who have collaborated with musicians who gave me material to work with and I have been fortunate to amass over 850 Sinhala pop and baila songs. ‘The great Wally Bastian gave me permission to sing his songs…. I felt very humbled’ says Desmond.
‘Arthur Spelderwinde and Derek Cramer were very popular in the late 50’s and 60’s. Derek was so funny and Arthur and Derek were amazingly talented and had the gift of engaging with the audience entertaining them not only in song but also with humour and repartee. They inspired me’.
The Jetliners were popular and the Coconut Grove was the place to be for the popular Sundown Dances. ‘I would watch Ishan Bahar on stage and saw how he had the audience dancing and enjoying his music. I was inspired and thought if he can do it so can I’ says Des.
‘There has been sadness during this time’ says Desmond ‘I said Goodbye to my 95 years old mother who passed away peacefully in Perth’. Due to travel restrictions he and his brother Milroy could not attend her funeral. Desmond is pleased that his mother ‘s 95th birthday celebrations in January 2020 was celebrated over 4 days and it gave the whole family quality time together to celebrate with their mother.
The shock of also having to farewell very close friend and colleague Sandra Jackson with whom he enjoyed singing duets as he says ‘our voices blended so well’. Another heartbreaking shock was the passing away of Hassan Musafer as Desmond says he considered Hassan his little brother. There are fond memories of sharing a room with him during their stint in Bombay as members of the Jetliners. ‘I class Hassan’s drumming as the next best thing to a Metronome’ says Des. We also lost the wonderfully funny and entertaining Ronnie Leitch & the very talented Randy Pieris.
All events scheduled for 2020 have been put on hold due to the restrictions in place and Desmond says that he has regular conversations with Event Organisers around the world and the word is that the party loving Sri Lankans are anxiously awaiting restrictions to be lifted and dinner dances and concerts to be held once again.
Different Marketing Agency has just launched the OFFICIAL Desmond De Silva YouTube channel and Desmond will ensure he uploads new material for the enjoyment of fans.
The world will never forget Christmas 2020. Preparation to celebrate Christmas was undertaken as spirits were dampened as families gatherings were uncertain around the globe. ‘Reaching out to Sri Lankan’s across the globe was something I wanted to do during this difficult Christmas time’ says Desmond. A series of home videos were produced with Desmond singing Christmas favourites to bring the spirit of Christmas back into hearts and homes. The many comments and phone calls received were confirmation that they were timely and well received.
NYE 2020 was extraordinary too as it was the only year Desmond had not been on a stage somewhere bringing in the New Year. This year, a special dinner shared with wife Phyllis, as they watched the Sydney fireworks display was how they welcomed 2021.
I believe we have all grown stronger in all areas of our lives and there is a hopeful promise of a great things ahead.
‘Life has certainly changed…… nothing can be taken for granted. But change brings about innovation and creativity and the entertainment industry will reinvent and thrive once again …. it’s just a matter of time’.
‘Music is the food of Life’!