Luís Remo de Maria Bernardo Fernandes (born 8 May 1953) is an Indian singer, with naturalized Portuguese citizenship. Known as a pioneer of Indian pop music, he performs pop/rock/Indian fusion and is also a film playback singer. His musical work is a fusion of many different cultures and styles that he has been exposed to as a child in Goa and in his later travels around the world. Such influences include Goan and Portuguese music, Sega music (from Mauritius and Seychelles), African music, Latin music (from Spain and South America), the music of erstwhile European communist states, those of the dancehalls from Jamaica and Soca (from Trinidad and Tobago).
Remo Fernandes at his home recording studio in Siolim, Bardez
|Birth name||Luís Remo de Maria Bernardo Fernandes|
|Born||8 May 1953|
Panjim, Goa, Portuguese India
|Origin||Siolim, Goa, India|
|Genres||Fusion, Indian rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, Actor|
|Labels||CBS (Sony Music India), Polygram (Universal Music India), Magnasound, T-Series, Tips, HMV/The Gramophone Company of India (Saregama), Venus Records & Tapes|
Writing and singing songs in English made his success more rare and distinctive in the context of the Bollywood-dominated, Hindi language-based, occasionally even disco music scene that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. His compositions in English, reflecting life and socio-political happenings in India with which every Indian could identify, became popular largely with the growing, English-educated, Indian middle class. His Hindi pop/rock and film songs became instant hits with the Indian masses, earning him Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum Discs. A popular stage performer in India, he has also taken part in many music festivals around the world. He has performed with international names such as Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Queen, to name a few. In 2013, he signed up as a member of AAP, a political party in India, for Goa constituency.
Life and careerEdit
Early years and musical influencesEdit
Remo Fernandes was born to the well-known Panjim family of Bernado and Luiza Fernandes on 8 May 1953. He has a sister named Belinda, who sings Brazilian songs. Although brought up in a Catholic family, Remo says he "realised that god is beyond religion". Remo's first introduction to rock music was at the age of seven, when a cousin returned from London with "Rock Around The Clock", a record by Bill Haley & His Comets. He spent the next decade listening to music of that era's most popular icons:
After about a decade of going crazy over Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, one of the greatest influences in my life was the psychedelic music of the 70s, especially the movie 'Woodstock', which I watched over and over again. That was the era when rock broke all barriers and became experimental; Jethro Tull fused it with western classical, Blood Sweat & Tears fused it with jazz, Santana fused it with Latin, Osibisa fused it with African... rock truly became the voice of global youth, no more the prerogative or monopoly of America.— In an interview to 'The Week'.
In school, Remo developed natural guitar playing skills and along with a group of friends, Alexandre Rosario, Tony Godinho, and Caetano Abreu, formed a school band named "The Beat 4". He wrote his first songs around this time, at age 14, winning first prizes in all-Goa competitions for best composer, best vocalist, and best lead guitarist.
After graduating from school, Remo went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Architecture from the city of Mumbai. His love for music continued, and he often bunked classes to work on his technique. This was when he figured out a way to tune and play the guitar to make it sound like the Indian sitar. He continued writing his own songs, playing solo or playing with different bands including one of India's top most recording artists, The Savages, which was known for releasing an album on Polydor Records.
Mumbai being one of the few cities in India at the time with a niche audience for rock music, he played in concerts and venues such as Shanmukhnanda Hall, Rang Bhavan, and in all the major college campuses of Bombay. While most young Indian musicians were happy sounding exactly like their American heroes, Remo brought an Indian element to his music with his sitar/guitar, and taught himself to play the Indian flute.
After graduating, Remo returned to Goa and immersed himself in its once famous Hippie culture. He met a group of travelling European artists who named themselves the Amsterdam Balloon Company, and began playing at their full moon concerts at Baga. Much later, Remo would team up in Amsterdam with Lucas Amor, the violinist in this group, and cut a song called Venus and the Moon.
Between 1977 and 1980, Remo travelled in Europe and north Africa, hitch-hiking around eight countries during a span of two-and-a-half years, supporting his travels by singing and passing a hat around in underground stations and pedestrian streets.
He performed in shows with fusion rock bands such as "Rock Synergie" in Paris. Almost settling there for good, he changed his mind and returned to Goa on Christmas Day, 1979.
After returning, Remo wrote some socio-political songs about life in Goa and India but had to face rejections from Indian record companies, who believed that there was no market for English music in the country.
Refusing to believe this, he recorded his maiden album Goan Crazy and a subsequent album Old Goan Gold on a four-track cassette TEAC Portastudio recorder in his home. In these albums he played all the instruments, sang all voices, and was the only composer of its music and lyrics. He engineered the recording and mixing and designed the album covers. He had cassettes produced in Mumbai and personally went about distributing the cassettes from shop to shop in Goa on a yellow scooter along with an illustrated book of poems he wrote, and postcards and T-shirts he designed.
1986 was a turning point in his career when three things happened. The first was being invited to play at an official government function in Goa for the then visiting Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. There he sang a song titled 'Hello Rajiv Gandhi' causing a controversy in the local press and subsequently in the national one. The song spoke about the hurried completion of Kala Academy just before Gandhi's arrival, and requested Gandhi to visit Goa repeatedly to increase the speed of other construction work. Remo mailed these critical press clippings to the Prime Minister, who immediately replied saying that he and his wife Sonia had loved the song and had found nothing objectionable in it. This letter, together with the whole story in pictures, was carried in many publications in the country.
The second significant happening that year was Remo's singing in Bombay at a concert called "Aid Bhopal", held to raise funds for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, in which he sang two of his songs, 'Pack that Smack' and 'Ode to Graham Bell'. To his surprise, both his songs were televised by Doordarshan, the government controlled TV channel in India, on four successive Sundays at prime time.
His wife Sonia also had family influences in the music industry, like her cousin Nina (formerly Naina Fernandes), who toured with many rock and roll bands in the 50s/60s.
The third event was composing and performing the title song for the hit movie Jalwa, which was released the next year. This made him instantly famous due to the popularity of Bollywood cinema and of the Hindi language. Remo's "'Jalwa' was a 15-minute piece of high-energy improvisation, featuring vocal scatting and a unique style of Indian flute playing.
After releasing his first hit album Pack That Smack in 1986 and Bombay City the next year, he became the highest-selling English rock musician in India and the only one in the country to be awarded Gold Discs for this category. Pack That Smack was his first album to be released by a national record company, CBS. This was an anti-drugs themed album, especially against addiction to Heroin which contained songs such as "Just a Hippie" and "Down with Brown", as well as socio-political satire such as "Mr Minister" – a nursery rhyme-styled song on politician who went to sleep once elected to power; and "So Wie Du" – a recording of an award-winning live performance. Bombay City contained hits such as "Against you/Against me", "Ocean Queen", and a hilarious take on the condition of telephone services in India, "Ode to Graham Bell".
Around this time, invited to attend international music festivals and concerts, Remo again started travelling around the world. His first international event was at the 1986 Dresden International Song Competition in former East Germany. There he won three awards, the Press Critics Award, the Audience Favorite Award, and the overall Second Prize. He once represented India, when it was invited, in the Tokyo Music Festival. He also took part in the MIDEM '96 Music Festival in Hong Kong, Festival of India in the USSR, besides Festivals in Macau, Germany, Seychelles, Bulgaria and Mauritius. As a stage performer he has by now been to every continent around the world.
Although his now famous composition Jalwa of the 1987 hit film made him instantly famous in India, he resisted the urge to join the commercial Hindi film music industry full-time, as he felt that he would have to compromise his artistic values by doing so, and he felt that his main body of work ought to be his own songs written out of his own personal experiences, not songs commissioned for film situations.
The next album he released in 1992 with Magnasound was titled Politicians don't know to Rock'n'Roll. Released in the backdrop of communal violence spreading in India, events such as the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, the album expressed the political tension of the time. It included songs such as "Don't kick up the Rao" – about the then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao with a song for India, "How does it feel?" and a song about safe sex titled "Everybody wants to".
In 1995, Remo Fernandes finally moved into Hindi Pop and film music to become a playback singer, by teaming up with the director Mani Ratnam and composer A. R. Rahman. He sang the song "Humma Humma" in the Hindi dubbed of Tamil film Bombay. The song went on to earn Remo a Double Platinum.
"Huya Ho" was the next hit he composed for the film Khamoshi: The Musical which was released in 1996.
In 1998, along with his newly formed band called the Microwave Papadums, he released his first and only Hindi pop/rock album to date titled O, Meri Munni. It went to the top of all the charts, and brought in another Platinum Album.
In 2000 Remo became the first Indian solo artist to have a song officially released solely on the Internet. Cyber Viber generated 16,000 downloads in 2 weeks. Other artists in India who also released top hit songs on the Internet that same year were both Mumbai based bands, Pentagram & Dementra.
Other collaborations and workEdit
In February 2005, Remo collaborated with Jethro Tull along with renowned Indian percussionist Sivamani for a concert held in Dubai. They performed tracks such as "Mother Goose", "Locomotive Breath", and Remo's now very famous Flute Kick also informally called "the flute song". Jethro Tull also backed Remo as he sang his own "Bombay City" and "Maria Pita Che".
In 2001, three Microwave Papadums band members- Dharamedra Hirve, Selwyn Pereira and Victor Alvares, and Remo's personal assistant Sunil Redkar, were killed in a road accident in Kanpur, on the way home after a concert there. Remo was devastated and stayed away from music and performances for a year.
In 2002, Remo released two albums. The music was contemplative, orchestral, complex. The albums were Symphonic Chants and India Beyond. Tracks from India Beyond were signed to and released by Buddha Bar, Paris, France, and Opium Garden, Miami, USA. In India these albums went unnoticed.
In 2003, on his 50th birthday, Remo held a reunion concert in Goa with many of his former bands; The Beat 4, Indiana, and The Savages, besides friends like The Valadares Sisters and Lucio Miranda. It was a 4-hour concert attended by 25,000 people.
The last album Remo released through a record company in India was "Muchacha Latina". For the title song he scripted, directed and edited the music video.
From then on, Remo made songs which were closest to his heart right from the start: socio-political comments and critiques, exposing corruption, communalism and other evils in India, and motivating people against them. He distributed these songs on the Internet for free, together with their music videos. Once again, they were scripted, directed and edited by him. The most memorable of these are "India, I Cry", "India Against Corruption", and "Vote: Tit for Tat".
In 2011, Remo was approached by the Election Commission of India to be their 'Youth Icon for Ethical Voting' in Goa. "Vote: Tit for Tat" was composed to encourage the Goans to vote out corrupt ministers.
Remo was later seen working on three personal albums, one of them being a re-recording of his very first Goan Crazy!, in 2013.
He also gave his tunes and voice to the title track of Luv U Soniyo which released on July 26, 2013.
By 2018, Remo was reported as having resettled in Portugal. He also has an ancestral home in the village of Siolim, in Bardez taluka of Goa. He was married to Frenchwoman Michele Delahaye, with whom he has two sons, Noah and Jonah.
In 2015, he was involved in a case of the alleged verbal abuse of a young girl recovering in Goa Medical College after being hit by a car allegedly driven by his son, Jonah. The girl was walking towards Old Goa to complete her vow to St Francis Xavier when the accident occurred. In 2018, the Goa Children's Court acquitted him after finding that there was "no consistency between the testimonies" of lawyer Aires Rodrigues and the alleged victim.
|1985||Trikal (Past, Present Future)||Singer||-|
|1987||Jalwa||Himself||Special appearance in the title song|
|1998||Pyar To Hona Hi Tha||Himself||Special appearance in the title song|
|2013||David (2013 Hindi film)||Singer||-|
|2014||Ek Villain||Caesar||Guru's boss and a crime lord|
|2015||Bombay Velvet||A Portuguese Man|
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- "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.