In 1958, I moved to F.C.C.H.S. I grew up with all the guys in the block. We had great times together, playing all the fun games, doing things which would upset the elders, but those experiences I remember vividly and will always cherish them.
I was relatively shy in high school and a little beyond, but with my experiences playing in the band, things changed for the better.
My interest in music started at an early age. My mother and some of her siblings played the piano and we would have great party sing-a-longs for all family occasions. My dad’s mother, Aunty Virgie, was an accomplished pianist and used to teach piano. I was forced to go to her for piano lessons, but I did not get far as I was more interested in playing with all the block boys.
I joined the St. Patrick’s school band in the early sixties and used to play the clarinet. I also learned how to play the harmonica. When we were in school, I learnt the guitar. I did not have a guitar, but played with good friends who had a guitar, like Everard Remedios, the late Johnny Aranjo and others, I managed to get pretty good.
I am also indebted to a good friend of mine, Titus Nunes. I used to go his house in D’Cruz Lane and would get the opportunity to listen to some of the new music, practice the guitar and fool around… singing…
In 1969, we started practicing as a group i.e. Titus Nunes, Willie Po, Peter Patrick, Iggy Castellino and I. We practiced in Iggy Castellino’s spare house, which we called the “Shack”.
In late 1969, we got an opportunity to play at “The Merchant Navy”. This was a joint adjacent to The Beach Luxury Hotel, patronized by the shippies. Less pay but this was considered as a training ground for musicians. I am greatly indebted to Peter Patrick, who loaned me an electric guitar so that I could be part of the group.
We, like many other musicians will always be thankful to a gentleman named Schwartz, who had a shop in Regal and would rent out amplifiers and PA systems to the Karachi musicians who could not afford to buy the stuff. We named our group Barbed Wire and sometimes we were Willie and the Po boys. I played the lead guitar and sang. This stint lasted for about a year, and ended when the 1971 war with India started.
After that, I completed my B. Comm and started working. There was no music for me until the end of 1972, when I was approached by Titus Nunes, the late Edgar Saville who asked me if I was interested in joining a group, namely “The In-Crowd”.
The In-Crowd was a very famous and well recognized group in the sixties and into the early seventies. I agreed to join, this time playing bass guitar and vocals. There was only one member of the original In-Crowd remaining, Edgar Saville.
This lineup comprised of Ronnie Pinto (lead and vocals), Hilary Fialho (drums). Titus Nunes (rhythm guitar and vocals), the late Edgar Saville (keyboard). After loads of practice and getting our act together, we turned out to be a good group and I believe kept the name of the In-Crowd in good standing.
Edgar Saville was just brilliant with his musical abilities. I learned a lot from him and also from Ronnie boy, who was a very progressive musician. We continued playing at the Disco in Hotel Metropole and had some great times. We continued at the Disco till it closed in the latter part of 1974.
We then moved to the Beach Luxury Hotel where we played at “Casbah.” I played for a few months at the Beach Luxury but for personal reasons, quit the group. I was replaced by David Fredrick and Titus took over playing bass.
I then joined a Chartered Accountant firm, Ford Rhodes Robson Morrow with the aspiration of doing my CA (a dream). The stipend paid for this stint was rupees 75.00 a month. I continued with this job until I was approached by Titus Nunes, Hilary Fialho, Ronnie Pinto (from the In-Crowd) and Clarrie Andrade and Alex Gomes (from the Phase – II, who played at the Midway House). These individuals were in the process of quitting their respective groups due to differences.
I was asked to join the group as a singer, something I was not comfortable doing as I always had a guitar in my hand. Anyway, they coaxed me into joining this six piece group which was named, “The Familiar Faces”.
The Familiar Faces did not need much practice as all the guys, except myself were still playing, although I had a little catching up to do. In the first half of 1975, we landed a very lucrative contract at the Hotel Intercontinental (The Nasreen Room). This was a very sophisticated joint, patronized mainly by the rich and famous. Playing at the Nasreen Room was a great experience, both from the satisfaction of the music played and the appreciation from the patrons.
There were changes in the band, when Clarrie Andrade and Ronnie Pinto quit to migrate to Canada. Michael Rodrigues (keyboard) and the late, great Ivan Menezes joined the group.
We continued until early 1977, when due to personal reasons, Michael, Ivan and myself left the group. A few weeks later, the three of us along with Tony Fernandes aka Tom Jones (drums), formed a band which we named “Schwartz”, honouring the great creator of amplifiers and PA systems.
We played mainly for weddings and were having great deal of success when the unthinkable happened. We were scheduled to play for a wedding in the evening, when in the afternoon, Ivan Menezes was killed in a motorcycle accident. That was devastating and his loss was greatly felt.
My final band experience was when, Norman Fernandes, Sidney Fernandes, Edgar Saville, Ronnie Remedios and myself formed a group and played at “The Midway House”.
At the end of 1977, Ronnie Remedios and myself quit the group and that was the end.
My last unofficial band experience was when I was asked to help the Blackjacks, who at that time had Roland Trinidad, Glenn Boyle, Ronnie Remedios, Michael Rodrigues and Bobby Fredrick, who were playing at the Three Aces. I was now working full time at SAS, a great job and free airline travel. As their main vocalist, Bobby Fredrick left the group, I was asked to help with the vocals until they could get things together. I stayed for a short time with the Blackjacks and did some singing, until Trevor D’Mello was ready to take over with singing and his saxophone.
I can sincerely say, I would never trade this great experience for anything else. It allowed me become a self confident person and has left me with memories that I will cherish forever.
Donald & Marie Therese live in Toronto, Canada
Looking at the 1973 above photograph, the person on the left is the late Edgar Saville (keyboard), 2nd from the left is Titus Nunes (rhythm guitar and vocals), in the middle is Hilary Fialho (drums), 2nd from the right is Donald D’Silva (bass guitar and vocals) and on the extreme right is Ronnie Pinto (lead guitar and vocals).
Originally posted on ‘FCCHS Live’