© Legendary Musicians of Karachi & Rick Leachay
Category ~ Legendary Musicians of Karachi
I cannot thank Robert D’Cruz enough for this beautiful photograph of Egan ‘Iggy’ Fernandes.
It is so captivating!
Artwork ~ by ldg
Egan Fernandes aka Iggy ‘Guitar Guru/Musician Extraordinaire’ ~ by Ricky Leachay
As a prelude, let me play devils advocate here and ask you a question, have you met someone, may be a parent, a teacher, a friend; or heard a motivational speaker; read a book; witnessed a situation that essentially inspired, invigorated, stimulated or impelled you in some way, shape or form that defines ‘YOU’. Cause if you have, I would suggest you take that moment and store it in a time capsule ‘IT’S PRICELESS”. My defining moment came when I met Egan “Iggy” Fernandes.
I met him serendipitously approximately 30+ years back when I was in quest of quenching my musical thirst and from the onset there was this subliminal connection, I guess he must have sprinkled some of that magical pixie dust in his urn on me.
Honestly, through my teens to adolescence; and then to early adulthood, I idolized the guy, he was my hero. Now when I take a quick flashback, I think, how very cool to have a REAL TIME HERO, versus a poster on the wall.
I GUESS THE QUESTION IS, HOW GOOD WAS HE ? I’LL LEAVE THAT FOR YOU TO DECIDE.
COMPARISONS !!! not gonna happen; nor make this into a belated eulogy I’ll leave that for those of us who self indulge in the horse & cattle show, but I’d say, he was truly a remarkable talent and very honestly the only international level musician from the whole pack.
In layman terms, Iggy was a “MUSICIAN’S MUSICIAN”, his skills, technique, knowledge and most of all musical intuition was incomparable to anybody I’ve seen, heard or played with till I moved from Karachi in 1995. These skills were not just limited to the guitar, he was equally proficient on keyboards, bass or almost anything that spelled Music. Had an incredible hearing ability, could decipher between the most intricate and complex chordal structures, or notes travelling through the oblivion at nanoseconds, something I felt was his greatest strength.
Had “perfect pitch”, which is essentially the ability to identify frequencies just by hearing them. Could quite honestly play, at a very high level, any genre of music, be it classical, folk, blues, jazz, rock or any of the various segmentation or hybrid denominations of these forms of music, but I do believe his personal style had elements that by default gravitated more towards a progressive jazz style, more on the lines of John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, John Coltrane and others who played a more Progressive Jazz Fusion style.
As I got a stronger understanding of music, I realized that he had a very strong inherent knowledge of musical fundamentals, whether it was breaking rhythms into beats and then into pulses or segmenting those into double, triple quadruple or hybrid time, playing ahead or behind the beat, in the pocket, accenting on the weaker beats, modal theory, the list goes on, he pretty much had these concepts down pad.
Over the years, I have seen a lot of musicians who are exceptionally good but they normally hit a wall, may be because of their musical environment, influence or predicament after which musical growth becomes difficult and they get boxed into a certain style or genre and keep circling and hovering within that orbit. I believe that is the reason why he had stopped playing with bands for quite a while. I believe what set him ahead of the pack was not merely his playing ability, but more the understanding and reasoning behind it.
When we did do some rudimentary jams, his improv or ad lib lines were more rooted into chromatic embellishments, having a whole tone sound with a lot of wide intervals versus the over killed pentonic or blues based phrasing or the call and response style that many rock & blues players over do.
I remember once asking him who was the best guitar player on the planet and he said John Mclaughlin, this was sometime in the early 80’s.
Here’s a little anecdote, I was trying to flirt around with a jazz concept of chordal substitution something more on the lines of Joe Pass’s style, so we started discussing it and essentially he took a basic chordal pattern of 1-V1-IV-V , and started substituting and by the time he was in the 16th measure he had the beat broken down in various pulses, chords overridden with various altered chords; had a bass line going, a complexed subtle jazzy melody line underlying it and all this done simultaneously. More importantly, this was not rehearsed, it was pure impulsive playing.
As a person I found him to be simple, humble, with a witty sense of humour. He was extremely intelligent and excelled at pretty much anything he did. Sometimes, I wondered if he belonged to some sort of secret society who had this abundance wealth of knowledge. His parents and brothers too, were extremely kind people.
Without sounding cliche I would like to give some perspective for musicians who played in Karachi before 1980’s. At that time access to musical information was practically non existent. Most of the guys that played were pretty much self taught and the closest thing you could find to a teacher was the swirling arm of your turn table or the rewind button on your cassette player. Compare that to the information available today “pretty much come full circle”. Technology has made information come from obscurity to becoming ubiquitous and this correlates to music too. This in turn has accelerated the learning curve exponentially. The search engines, the social networks, the viral marketing has put the information at the stroke of a key or click of mouse. Pretty much today you can beam in Mr. Spock on your computer and he will tutor you on the fundamentals of music, art, sex or any other fetish that you find self indulgent.
So here’s kudos to a friend, a teacher and mentor, until our paths cross again.
So many great musicians remember him. Here is what many have to say.
Robin John ~ My childhood buddy. Not only my childhood friend but a great source of inspiration in music & working out chords….what a talent! have yet to see some one like him in Pakistan. God bless his soul. I still remember that I attended his funeral….way back 1983.
Aakhtar Qayyum ~ Iggy!!!!the star of our past ..the real soul of Karachi..
Donald John ~ I was fortunate to take few bass tips from this great man too, what a player.RIP!
Emily Dias ~ Lovely pic of Iggy RIP. Thanks Ricky that was an exceptionally good write-up on Iggy
Spittaman Petigara ~ Iggy…PURE talent, way ahead of time musician. RIP
Ali Tim ~ He is a beautiful man – looks straight out of some Hendrix museum …i have heard so much about him . i want to listen to his music ….where can i find his music ?
Clarence Lobo ~ Nice memorable pic! Very well written indeed Ricky! Yeah… you would have been one of the few who would have known Iggy’s musical talents better!
Chester Williams ~ The best ever left handed lead guitarist I’ve ever known…
Michael Sylvester Rodrigues ~ Wow!!!! I don’t even remember this Pic!!!! did play w/ him once at Horseshoe!!! w/Errol..Malcolm..Alan….He played on Errol D’Silva‘s guitar…way better than Errol …and he is a Left handed Guitarist….thx..Lynette -ldg… I could not have said it any Better!!! We were Self Taught….in Karachi, Pakistan….not much English Music coming over the Radio…25/30 min. on Radio pakistan….Eddy Carripiet… But Iggy was at another Level!!!! I heard him play once at the Horseshoe!!!!…Iggy/Edgar/Ivan….we lost too too Early….these kinda guys ain’t coming back for the next 100ys!!!! so so Sad in SFO!!!! Orig…Incrowds…Talisman…keynotes….talent ain’t coming back!!!! Top 3 !!!! end of Story!!!
Ron Pinto ~ This is lovely !! He seems to be Exactly like ”Ivan Menezes” from PECHS (In-Crowd) ……………..Heard him play ‘Movin’ on’ (Bad Co.,) with Edgar Saville & David Fredrick…………..Awesome guitar player!!
Maxwell Dias ~ What a nice pic to remember a true legend!
Colin DeSouza ~ Rest in peace, my dear friend.
Rozario Fernandes ~ finally i get to see the great icon! Lynette -ldg thank you for sharing this beautifully engineered write up by Ricky ! it took me in another world all together ! I so wish these legends were around right now, we could have learnt so much from them, looking back at all these musicians we have a plethora of musicians from Pakistan.
Ronnie Dsouza ~ He really was a huge inspiration to upcoming guitarists.
Desmond Fernandes ~ What a legend! Thank you for sharing his photos
Iqbal Kamdar ~ Great talented master mind guitarist.
Robert D’Cruz ~ This is awesome!!….. I’d like to add, back then when I was just starting to play, I never heard the question, “who is the best guitarist?”, simply because everyone knew the answer. The question about the best guitarist started surfacing only when he passed away. I still remember his mother hugging me when I cried like a baby at his funeral. I had a couple of rough years going through depression and shit after his death until multiple visits to his mum, dad & his brother Ryan convinced me that he was jamming with the angles, the only musicians that can keep up with him!
Carol Humphrey Fatah ~ Well done Rick Leachay, nice reading
Lynette Dias Gouveia ~ Iggy I am still searching for your music/transcripts. I hear they are floating somewhere and will keep looking till I find them. Today I am deeply overwhelmed with emotion whilst uploading Ricky’s write up of you. x Love you even though we have never met. I can feel your presence right now.
Mary – Lou Vanderlowen ~ Being a sister and a cousin to some of the best musicians I know…as in Alan and Gerard Vanderlowen, Colin D’Souza, Jeffery Besterwitch, Charles D’souza and now an aunt to some Up-coming musicians; Ricky I could not agree with you more! Iggy was one in a million, I can still only think of him with fond memories, always hanging around with my brother Alan. Keep up the good work. Beautifully written.
Ashley Clements ~ Amazing write up bro always heard about him from Uncle Norman & Kevin Francis, would love to hear any of his recordings if anyone has it. God bless
Chris Ali ~ @Mary-Lou: Indeed they are the best. I hung around with Alan when he was in Islamabad with Communications. I loved his singing and learned a lot from him. He was with Alan Dias, Errol, Frankie, Malcolm, and Edgar. They brought life to a dead city. They got popular quickly and played in a lot of gigs for the international community. Gerard came later and played at the Rawalpindi Pearl Continental with, I want to say, Vibrations. Last time I saw Alan when he was playing for Pearl Continental Karachi back in 1983-84. Hope he is doing o.k.
Kevin Fernandes ~ Speechless! Well described the Talent of a great musician. Thank you Ricky for sharing this information, it was magical reading about Mr.Iggy Fernandes.