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Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE man known as George Grenville Pereira was a rare breed. He was a unique individual
in a class of his own who left an impression on everyone he met.

Born visually impaired, Gren, as he was fondly known as, found it tough to cope at regular schools.

So, doctors recommended that he be sent to a school for blind children. It was a decision that would change his life forever and one which would influence the music industry.

After seeking advice Gren was finally enrolled at the St Nicholas School of the Blind in Penang. It was here that Gren, discovered his destiny in music. He started off playing drums, then moved on to the guitar and keyboards. As passionate and talented as he was about music, he was a fast learner and quickly mastered the essence of each instrument.

Former teacher Catherine Cheong remembers how he used to thrill the students at the school with his playing.

All through his musical career, with the Falcons and the Alleycats, Gren played like his soul was on fire. His hands flying across the keyboard, delighting his audiences no end. There was no doubt about it. When Gren was in the house, the crowd wa s on their feet. When he left off playing with bands, Gren took to promoting them instead and became a well known music agent who found suitable spots for up and coming bands to play in.

Sadly, his life was too short. On Dec 5 last year, after a sudden heart attack, Gren passed on at the age of 57.

But Gren had a dream, which went unfulfilled with his death. He had always dreamt of paying back what his school had gifted him with. His plan was to set up a basic music studio at the school equipped with sound-proof rooms and as many instruments as possible.

Now, close acquaintances of Gren plan to make the man’s wish come true by having a fund raiser concert fittingly entitled ‘Tribute to Gren’ at the Wharf, Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya on March 8.

The session will start at 2pm till 1am and all proceeds will be donated to the school which produced this pioneer of the Malaysian music industry.

Shyam Nair, one of Gren’s closest friends who was in the same industry for almost 20 years, said that Gren kept talking, just a few months before he passed on, about his lifelong ambition to organise a project, that would benefit the school for the blind which inspired him.

“We, his friends have set out to put together this concert which will showcase musicians from all over Malaysia and maybe even Australia. Most of the names need no introduction, including The Falcons, Alleycats, Heavy Machine, NRG, Fredo Bala and Alfonse Jerome and Friends and many others who were stars in Grenville’s time,” Shyam said.

“We have even set up a company called Grenville Promotions not only for this event but also to continue paying tribute to all those who have served the local entertainment scene. It was Gren’s idea to have something like this.

Whatever is collected from this event will be donated to the school in Penang where Gren virtually
grew up. We hope to have more such charity events in years to come,” said Shyam. He added that because of the economic crisis, many companies have been reluctant to sponsor the cause. “If you could donate anything at all, by all means please do so. If you have usable instruments lying around the house or other items such as computers, television sets or even a 5-litre whiskey bottle, we will accept anything.

Then, at the event we will auction these off and add the proceeds to the fund.” Shyam said that they hope to collect at least RM45,000 from the fund raiser and expect at least 600 people to attend.

Renowned radio dee jay, Radhakrishnan will be the emcee for the night which promises to be an exciting affair with a string of popular pub performers and former artists gracing the stage.

Tickets are being sold at RM10 per and include a meal.

For details on the ‘Tribute to Gren’ gala, you can contact Shyam at 012-257 5595 or the Armada Hotel at 03-7954 6888 for reservations.


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