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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

We'll remember Nandu Bhende as a pioneer of rock music in India: Leslie Lewis

Nirmika Singh, Hindustan Times   April 12, 2014
First Published: 09:47 IST(12/4/2014) | Last Updated: 11:13 IST(12/4/2014)

Leslie Lewis talks in memory of Bhende, "The industry remembers the vocalist and music producer, who suffered a heart attack on Friday, as a pioneer of the genre in the country."

Veteran rock vocalist and music producer Nandu Bhende passed away on Friday following a heart attack, at a Mumbai hospital. He was 58. Bhende is best known for being part of popular bands in the 70s and 80s and his work in musical theatre. Nandu and I were part of the same band, Savage Encounter.

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I (Leslie Lewis) was very close to him. When we travelled for gigs, we would share a room. Besides discussing music and work, we’d have conversations about life. As we both were foodies, we’d make trips to many eateries together.

I spent a lot of time with him during my formative years and Nandu was always a guide to me.

I remember telling him once I wanted to go to the US to learn guitar. He asked, "What exactly do you want to play?"

I said, "The blues", to which he replied, "They have BB King, why do they need you? He reminded me that America already had the gods of every genre. Then he said, ‘Why don’t you offer them something that they don’t have?"

That statement was the germ that later became Colonial Cousins. He put me in the right direction.

When it came to music, Nandu was my senior. He grew up at a time when rock music was coming up across the world and he excelled at that. Although most know him as a rock singer, I feel he was an underrated music producer.

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In recent years, when we’d meet at concerts, we’d chat about everything. Just last week, his wife Usha called me to tell that she’d broken her arm, would I come over?

I’m shocked to hear Nandu’s no more. He’s been with me through my ups and downs and helped me throughout.

As a musician and a wonderful human being, he has touched many lives. At the end of the day, Nandu did what he loved doing the most — playing music.

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