TV Times

Grace is the word
‘The Grace fever’ will grip Colombo tonight, with the magical sound of Amazing Grace, after a three decade period. Tony, Donald, Riza, Benji and Harsha will come alive at the BMICH at 6.30 pm to recreate the history of the golden era of music in Sri Lanka.

The band Amazing Grace came into being in 1972 when Augie Ranaweera asked Tony de Silva to start a band. Augie had just built a whole set of guitar, bass, and PA amplifiers and was looking for a band to manage.

Tony, Benjamin Ranabahu and Donald Pieries had played together in the past although they were all playing with different bands at that time - Tony was playing keyboards with the Moonstones, Benjy was in a band with Sooriya Kumar (Ex. Spitfires) and Haris Jurampathi (Ex. Jetliners), while Donald was playing with the X’ Periments under Macy Perera.

Tony immediately contacted Benji and Donald and they both agreed on getting together again. The three of them practiced at Augie's studio for six months before they started playing gigs. While rehearsing at Augie's, they were on the lookout for a lead guitarist. After trying out several guitarists they settled on Joey Lewis.

So the original Amazing Grace consisted of Tony (Keyboards), Benji (Bass), Donald (Drums), and Joey (Guitar). In the quest for a name for the band, Joey's mother (Mifanvy Lewis) suggested "Amazing Grace".

The boys thought it was a great pun on words and so the band "Amazing Grace" was born. Their first performance was at the Old Crocks Rally at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel. The band had a new and fresh sound and their repertoire caught the attention of the press and word about the band spread like wildfire
Shortly after the show at the Old Crocks Rally, Joey left the band to join the Jet Liners. He was replaced by Rodney Robot. Shortly after, the band landed the gig at the Little Hut at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel and Amazing Grace and the Little Hut became a synonym. In 1973 Rodney left the band and was replaced by Reza Deane.

In 1974, Joey re - joined the band as a second guitarist and they played as a 5-piece for a short while before Benji quit. Joey got back on bass. Joey then quit (for the second time) and was replaced by Rovaan (Musty) Weerasinghe. The band was back to four members again. Musty then left the band in 1976 and was replaced by Adrian Ariyaratne.

In 1977, the band decided to go 5-piece and picked Harsha Markalanda as second keyboardist. In 1978, Donald and Harsha left the band to join Rajah Jalaldeen's band in the Middle East. Adrian Ariyaratne decided to quit at the same time. Tony and Reza did some quick thinking and brought in Hassan Musafer and Joey Lewis and Nihal Chandraratne (as second keyboardist).

In 1980, Joey left. Nihal took over bass and they brought in Cathy McLeod as second keyboardist. Hassan and Cathy then left and were replaced by Dilup Gabadamudalige on keyboards and Vernon McLeod on drums. At this time they had left the Little Hut and were performing at the Blue Leopard at the Taprobane. Towards the end of 1980, the band got an offer to perform in Switzerland. Dilup decided to not join them and they left the island as a 4-piece band once again.

While in Switzerland, Vernon McLeod left the band in 1982 and Donald rejoined. Nihal left the band in 1985. In 1985, the band returned to the island for three months gig at the Mount Royal Hotel with Benji back on bass.
They went back to Switzerland and were joined by Hussain Jiffry on Bass.

They finally disbanded in 1988 after 16 years as a band. Through the years, Reza and Tony became the backbone of the band. Apart from Tony who started it all, Reza has spent the most time with the band - a wopping 15 years.


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