I was born on 30th January 1951 and lived at No.6 Saeed Manzil, Napier Street (between Duarte Mansion and Duarte Square). My parents were Dominic and Bridget Pinto – both deceased now after immigrating to Toronto, Canada.
We were six siblings with sister Celine, brothers; Tony and Ron Pinto – and our angels above; Mary, who died at childbirth, and Conrad at the age of 2 – passed away from a head injury.
My early memories of music takes me back to the late 50’s and early 60’s where the influence of music were my brother Tony (who practiced with his band at our flat in Napier street) and my sister Celine (who had a great voice and loved to sing). At the age of 7; I became fascinated with the drums.
When they finished with their regular practice, I would sneak in and have a go at some drum rhythms and try to imitate them.
Tony my brother, was very aware of what I was doing, and introduced me to the great Pascal Fernandes (who played with the renowned Jannu Vaz band). He showed me the twist beat and some jazz drum grooves. This was it……the magic of drums drew me in.
If I was to pay tribute to the one person who set this drum stage for me; it was Pascal Fernandes. After that, everything I ever learnt was self taught and by listening to others – Like many of the biographies of the other drummers; I too, started practicing on metal coffee tables to mimic a snare drum, and a couch to mimic a deep tom tom. Such was life to make do without a drum set and practice creating drum sounds.
After I learnt some standard rhythms – my brother Tony and The Soares Brothers (Rhythm Quintet) gave me the opportunity to perform in their band. I enjoyed doing a couple of tracks for them and my favourite was “Wipe out”.
I would have to attribute this experience and undoubtedly grateful for the exposure that I received here to most standard and classic songs, big band jazz, latin, swing and many other types of music to fully round my understanding and experience with a variety of drum work.
Within a year or so of joining The Rhythm Quintet, I happened to see a white drum set (made in Sialkot) that was on display at a music store close to P.F.Pereira Bakery. It was impressive looking and I was desperate to have it. It was uncle Steven D’souza (moms brother) who was generous enough to pay the Rs. 900 for it. I still remember how utterly excited I was to own my first drum kit – no more tables or couches to practice on!!
While purchasing this kit from the store, I happened to be approached by some local musicians who required a drummer. They kept in touch with me , and lo and behold the forming of The Abstracts took place. Ashley D’Silva (bass) was one of the musicians. Most gigs we played were at weddings, parties, The Beach Luxury hotel for a concert with a variety of bands, and a big gig at the Qayam Cinema in PECHS; that included The Keynotes, The Bugs, The Blitz from the Karachi American school and finally The Forethoughts (masqalander).
At this stage I was with two bands; The Rhythm Quintet and The Abstracts. Soon after I met up with my school friend; the great Ivan Menezes, lead guitar, singer extraordinaire and we formed a band with his brother Leon called The 3 Dimensions. This was the start of early rock music in Karachi and we landed quite a few gigs – one was at the Karachi US Boat Club where we entertained the American Navy personnel that docked in our city at the time. They may have been Navy personnel but many had incredible musical skills and we picked up from them as we started jamming together. It was a fantastic experience and along with the cash we earned, our delight was to be able to drink countless cans of American made Coca Cola, authentic hot dogs and bacon that we could not get our hands on from any of the local stores in Karachi.
My drumming career continued by closely listening to others and taking in every experience I could gather to groom my skill set – It was a constant learning process for me to improve and develop.
During my time with these 3 bands, I continued to focus on some key drummers who had very much influenced my drumming style; one who is still with us and the other two have passed on. My tribute, gratitude and respect goes out to Pascal Fernandez (deceased) who was instrumental in creating the direction for me. Sidney D’Souza (deceased) brother of Norman D’souza (InCrowd, Karachi) who always gave me the confidence to drum (including cabaret styles). The 3rd Karachi drummer – Joe D’Costa from the Keynotes – who is well these days. I followed these three drummers very closely and went to any dance I could go to just to sit by the stage and watch and process every move, hit, roll and style.
After two years (roughly) a new band was being formed – a great Karachi band – “The InCrowd”. Band members set to go were Ivan Menezes, Lead guitar, vocals, Norman D’souza, Rhythm guitar lead vocals, Edgar Saville (deceased now) on keyboard, Noel Ferriera, Bass guitar, vocals and a drummer ??? Ivan was enticing me to join up with this band and play the house band permanent gig at “The Metropole disco”. While this was on the move, another great Karachi Band, “The Talisman set”, was in need of a drummer. Not sure how it happened, given my love for good hard rock music (InCrowd), I consented to join “The Talisman” and Sydney D’souza joined the InCrowd to cover the drums.
At this time, 3 great Karachi bands ruled the music scene, The Keynotes, The InCrowd and of-course The Talisman where I finally ended my career with in Karachi, Pakistan (September 1972).
I must also give credence and acknowledgement to the many other bands that formed with great musicians, old and young who gave their talents to the Karachi “Liverpool like” music blitz.
Hours and days of music and drumming and finally I decided to immigrate to Canada once my sister Celine sponsored me. On 6th September, 1972 a final concert was performed; it was the CYC club that organized a jam session at the CYC hall near St. Pats church and all proceeds made from the event would be donated to The Saint Don Bosco orphanage near St. Pats.
The InCrowd played and showcased me at this final and last time in Karachi. I am saddened as I write this and remember the great musicians deceased and alive who played at this gig. Ivan Menezes, Edgar Saville, Noel Ferriera, Leon Menezes, Norman D’souza. Jamming with us also were Willie Poe (drums), Atiq Rehman of Rehmani stores; who willingly lent me his kit and added a second bass drum for me. Other drummers included Freddy Barrel – if I recall – I am sure for those who read this will remember playing as I cannot seem to recall how many others did so at this incredible jam session. It started during the early hours and ended at 7 pm in the evening.
Traditionally, there was a fight that ‘could possibly’ happen at some of these dances. ….. but this was one event that did not have a single disruption. I’m sure many Karachiites would fondly remember this. It was the “Woodstock” of Karachi! I have attached a copy of the original ticket of the event.
Right after this last session (3 days later) I was on my way to Toronto, Canada to make a new life.
So, who took my place with The Talisman Set? It was Martin Fernandes who now lives in Nagasaki, Japan. A great drummer who replaced me and whom we found to be the perfect fit with The Talisman. Other great members in this band included, Colin D’souza: lead, rhythm guitar vocals, Julius Saldanha: keyboards, Nobby Furtado:bass, vocals.
Surprisingly enough, a few months after my departure from Karachi, the owner of Beach Luxury hotel – where The Talisman played (007 club) – landed them a contract to tour Asia. After ending their tour of music, the band members ended up getting married and now live in various countries.
Colin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Julius in Edison, New Jersey
Nobby in Miami Beach, and
Martin who lives in Nagasaki, Japan.
Such great musicians that I have missed thoroughly and enjoyed my musical years with.
In September 1972, not knowing where my life would end up with my drumming career, I took on a welding night shift job in a skidoo factory working with mig, tig and oxy-acetylene welding. I had studied this trade while in Karachi at the Pakisan/British Oxygen company at West Wharf.
What is a wild and crazy rock, soul and jazz drummer doing in a trade like this? Oh well!! Had to make a living out in the east end of the city.
MCA Canada, was the closest I came to hopefully make my mark as I landed a job there after a year. I started working in the recording studio and watched and met many artists who came in; Elton John, Lynnard Skynnard, The Who and others.
Jammed with many good musicians as I got introduced to them while working there.
It was 1985 or thereabouts when I began working with a couple of bands.
One of them I will fondly remember was “Resurrection”. This band played a couple of dances, a big one being the Pioneers dance club and another Goan dance (cant remember). Band members included, Norman Braganza lead guitar and vocals, Victor D’souza, rhythm guitar and vocals, myself on drums and my apologies I cannot remember the bass player…forgive me!! Resurrection did not last for too long and disbanded.
Finally, I met up with the great Dennis David, keyboards (Keyboardist from the Surfer band, Karachi) who formed The Impact 3, and that included also a great keyboardist and singer, Terry Pinto from East Africa. This turned out to be a terrific, tight trio. We played a variety of music at weddings, dances and our gigs as the house band at The Albion Steak House in Palgrave Bolton area.
Friday and Saturday nights were our gigs and we had a great time. The late great Cesca Domingo (singer from the Keynotes) would come and join us. What a great voice she had. (famous song included “these boots were made for walking”.)
Once my first child, Matthew was born on May 15th, 1988 , I had to rethink my music commitments and thus discontinued the frequent playing on weekends other than dances or jam sessions.
Much of my business/professional life led me from customer service, to Inventory Management to finally another love; as a Purchasing and Supply Chain Management professional. This career spanned about 30+ years as I sought and attained two professional accreditations from The Purchasing Management Association of Canada (SCMAO) and The Institute of Purchasing and Supply Chain , USA (ISM)
It is now October 2017; I have since retired from Kinectrics Inc. as their Manager of Purchasing & Supply chain. I still continue to have that urge to drum away stirring in me. I jam wherever I can, continue to go for my favorite concerts and always think of the good times gone by.
My favourite drummers are:
Keith Moon – The Who
John Bonham – Led Zeppelin
Carl Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Mitch Mitchell – Jimi Hendrix Experience
Phil Collins – Genesis
My favourite and only drum equipment that consists of:
Vintage 1950 5 piece Premier turquoise sparkle kit
6 original Turkish Zildzian Cymbals made in Turkey.
A Cajun from Lima, Peru
A Darbuka from Turkey (sounds better than tablas)
And lastly a double Tama bass pedal.
I will end my story with the greatest gratitude and love I shall continue to have for all the musicians that I have engaged with in Karachi and Toronto. I share with you the knowledge that such a great time existed between the 60’s and 70’s which I doubt will repeat itself.
God bless and remembrance to our great drummers gone…….
Steve Griffin ( aka budda Griffin)
With love, respect and gratitude to all, especially to my Wife Virginia who was the pillar of strength behind pushing me to continue with my drums and encouragement to go forth with higher studies and to my children Matthew, Julia and Sarah who make up this great family of mine.
From my family with Love..