TV Times

‘Just like starting over’
By Esther Williams
Legendary Sri Lankan rock’n’roll band The Jetliners reunited for a short tour of Sri Lanka this month. Fans of the leading 60’s and 70’s band were delighted to see them in action once again as they rendered the Shadows Music (instrumental) and vocal hits such as Bombay meri hai, Release me, Delilah and other Cliff Richards numbers.

Music lovers would remember them from the Sun Down dances that ran for 365 consecutive Sundays at the Coconut Grove room of the Galle Face Hotel in the 60s. Subsequently they had a recording contract on the Columbia label with EMI. The group also played at other hotels and went international on quite a few occasions, featuring for several years at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay.

The highlight of this reunion tour in Sri Lanka after a period of 30 years was a recreation of the old days at the Coconut Grove on 21st December. Two other performances were held at the BMICH on the 19th and 20th December. Their fans from around the country and a few from Australia and London came to listen to them. Some even brought their records to be autographed by the group.

Speaking of their visit, Anton Gunawijeya (Rhythm guitarist) who is now based in London says with a sense of nostalgia, “It seems like we are coming back to our roots and paying a tribute to our fans here.” Felix Fernando (Bass Guitarist) who is currently in Melbourne expresses similar sentiments adding, “It’s great to meet the boys and other friends again and I have this good feeling inside of me.”

It was their love for music that brought together the group. However, they dispersed in the 70s, each to follow his vocation in different cities around the world. Mignonne Fernando (keyboard player and a vocalist) stayed on and getting others together continued to play as Mignonne and the Jetliners. Indra Raj (Lead guitarist) went to Switzerland, Harris Jurangpathy (Drums) to Denmark and Sohan Pieris (vocalist) to Hawaii while Ishan Bahar (vocalist) stayed on in the country.

All except for Harris made it for the shows. “This is where we started and we are delighted at being back together again,” they smile. It seemed like a family get together for most of them. Although not in the music field they get together with others in their respective places to make music as a hobby.

“We have always been in touch and it feels like we never let go,” explains Mignonne of the group that has always felt at ease to create with each other. She attributes the success of the group to the good understanding, discipline, dedication and most of all respect that the members had for each other.

Incidentally, Swinburne University Professor Russell Crawford (sponsors of the tour) and Felix Fernando are good friends and have played in a band called Chameleon for the last 15 years in Melbourne.


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