Late Desmond Anaclitus R. De Silva

For his excellence as an iconic Sri Lankan singer and entertainer known as the “King of Baila.”

Desmond Anaclitus Rajiv De Silva is Awarded the Lifetime Achievement for his invaluable contribution to the music world and one of the greatest Sri Lankan entertainers of his time.

Desmond De Silva was born in Matara, Sri Lanka, in 1944 and studied at St Peter’s College Colombo and St Thomas’s College Matara. He was recognized as the iconic Sri Lankan Entertainer in Sri Lanka and within the expat communities worldwide. Desmond combines a powerful voice with a fantastic range that stirs the heart of the young and old.

Desmond was known as a mainstream performer who engaged and entertained audiences worldwide. He started his musical career in Sri Lanka when he was 19 years old and has celebrated over 50 years as an entertainer. His musical career began as the lead vocalist with popular bands such as Fireflies, Jetliners, and Spitfires. Then he formed his band, “Desmond & the Clan,” in 1976, which became a sell-out at the Capricorn Night Club in Colombo on the nights they performed. His band was contracted by the Katmandu Hotel, where he was discovered by an agent who offered them a contract to tour the Scandinavian region for almost seven years.

Desmond then decided to sing Pop, Country, Jazz, Motown & Rock & Roll to a wide range of audiences and was always able to engage the audience and had the ability to motivate their participation. He was also known as the King of Baila and has recorded over 800 baila songs, most specifically written for him to sing. He has also performed in other languages, such as Cantonese, Hindi, and Tamil.

Desmond’s popularity has soared as a solo artist, and he has undertaken demanding schedules for overseas engagements at sold-out events with his band, “Desmond & the Impressions,” based in Sydney. During his solo career, his versatility as a performer shined through his ability to imitate artists such as Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, the Bee Gees, Elvis, and even Eddie Jayamanna.

He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 by the UK Lanka Times in London. He also represented Mother Lanka at the 5th Olympiad of Songs in Athens, Greece, in 1974 and Yamaha Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in 1975.

Not all entertainers are gifted with the ability to go five decades in the business while still sustaining their enthusiasm and demand at the highest level. But flamboyant and dynamic Desmond De Silva did!

Sri Lanka Foundation International says farewell to Desmond. You leave a lasting legacy to the music world. We, your fans, will continue to listen, enjoy and dance to your catchy hits and all-too-familiar voice. May you rest in peace.