TRAGEDY struck Lee Yee at the height of his career when he died
in a car accident in July 1980. But the Malaysian Mandopop icon left a collection of music his fans continue to cherish.
As a testament to his enduring popularity, hundreds of Lee’s fans recently packed the bandstand at the Music Black Box of the Penang House of Music in Komtar, George Town.
It was the last day of the four-day
event — For Whom A Love Song Is Sung— to remember one of Penang’s most successful Mandopop singer.
It was also held in conjunction with the ongoing annual George Town Festival.
The event was launched by Malaysian evergreen songstress Datuk Elaine Kang. There was also an exhibition showcasing Lee’s achievements with his memorabilia at the Music Black Box.
There were audio playback and slideshows of his songs, a talk, a quiz and a karaoke session by fans.
On the final day backed by
famed organist and recording star, Richard Hoon, and the D’U Band performed a two-hour concert
with songs made popular by Lee.
Penang House of Music director Paul Augustin was delighted with the large turnout as staffers had to
quickly scramble extra chairs for the crowd, young and old, who came for Lee’s work.
“It was an unexpected turnout and this shows Penang’s famous sons and daughters of the local music scene are not forgotten.
“Nevertheless, it is to Lee’s legacy that many still remember him and the songs he sang though he passed away 37 years ago,” he said.
Born in Penang on Feb 10, 1952, Lee (Li Jin Bioa) completed his secondary school studies at Chung Ling High School.
After leaving school, he helped out at his father’s business as a clerk and later joined a band called Xuan Feng as its singer and drummer.
In 1971, he took part in a northern region Radio Television Malaysia green network talent contest by singing The Journey of Life and at the national finals in Kuala Lumpur, he emerged champion with the song I Ask the White Clouds.
That opened the door for him into the entertainment world and he released two albums with record label Xin Lian.
The turning point came in 1973 when he joined Li Heng recording company and in that year released six albums and seven in 1974.
The song The Day You Waited for Me composed by famed composer Li
Junxiong with lyrics by Ding Dong
became a huge hit, and the trio were soon dubbed The Iron Triangle.
They followed it up with another album For Whom A Love Song Is
Sung that became Lee’s
His subsequent albums featured compositions by Malaysians and almost all those songs gained popularity, which served to establish not just Lee but the composers too.
Lee was an all-round performer and was crowned the Prince of Musicals.
Some of the other singers that performed with him were Teresa Teng, Huang Xiaojun and Yuya.
He recorded three musicals that
became popular — Song of Endless Sorrow, Clash of the Titans and Cloud O Cloud.
After his rise to fame, Lee led the Yi Feng troupe to tour major towns in Malaysia and even to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, England and Netherlands where he achieved unexpected success.
In 1975, Lee married Li Hanqiong but happiness was shortlived when he was killed in a fatal accident in Kuala Lumpur in 1980.
Lawrence Khoo, 65, from Butterworth said he was a great fan of Lee’s during the 1970s.
“He was very popular then and my friends and I really enjoyed listening to his melodious songs.
“We were really sad to hear of his untimely death at such a young age,” he said.
Jenny Lau, 63, from Ipoh said she was glad to see the exhibition and
celebrate the times when Lee’s
songs were dominating the airwaves.
“It brings back many sweet memories when I listen to his songs.
“It’s such a happy feeling to go back to those days when life was less stressful and
hurried,” she said.