Music veteran Siva Choy dies

SIVA CHOY 1947-2018

Veteran home-grown blues musician and funnyman Siva Choy, known for penning the 1991 Singlish rap classic Why U So Like Dat?, has died. He was 70.

He died yesterday afternoon after suffering two strokes that left him in a two-day coma in Perth, Australia, where he had been based since the 1990s with his wife, Ms Ilsa Sharp.

The couple have no children.

Choy, who until a month ago was "still jamming away", died in a "graceful and dignified manner", said Ms Sharp, 72.

She told The Straits Times: "When it was clear that he was going to pass in the past two days, I made sure to have a player next to him playing music non-stop. Music was the centre of his life, and the idea of Siva Choy going out without any music was not right."

Choy, who learnt to play the guitar as a child, first performed as a teenager with his younger brother James in the 1960s under the band name The Cyclones.

Later, the duo teamed up with another band, The Checkmates, and the new partnership formed the resident band at the Sunday Beat And Blues tea dance sessions at the now-defunct Golden Venus lounge in Orchard Road.

Choy is, however, more widely known in Singapore for penning the rap song Why U So Like Dat?, which was featured on the album of the same name written with the now-defunct comedy group Kopi Kat Klan.

The album, which comprised songs and skits performed in Singlish, sold 50,000 copies, which was considered "staggering" at the time, according to an ST article in 2005.

The same article hailed Choy as "the grandfather of local humour".

Beyond music, he showcased his comedic skills on stage in shows such as Rocking Rambutan! (1999), part of Action Theatre's Stand Up For Singapore! comedy series, and Stand Up And Boogie (2000).

He had a supporting role in the movie One Leg Kicking (2001), in which he played former football star Sammy Best.

Choy was also the author of the popular Kitchi Boy stories, about a group of local boys and which were filled with Singlish and colloquial humour.

Music expert and researcher Joseph Pereira told ST: "Siva tapped into the idiosyncrasies of Singaporean culture and language, and it worked... Also, Siva was just hilarious."