It is with profound sadness we learn that popular entertainer Desmond de Silva succumbed to a heart attack whilst in Melbourne today. A living legend he was born in Matara but bred in Colombo. His versatility was limitless – singing in both English and Sinhala with relative ease and sometimes even in Tamil.
Des was 77 at the time of his sudden demise. He was one of the greatest Sri Lankan entertainers of our time. A resident of Sydney, Australia, Des was in Melbourne to perform at the New Year’s Eve dance on December 31st.
Desmond Anaclitus Rajiva de Silva launched his music career in 1963 or 1964, as lead vocalist of FIREFLIES band led by Milroy de Silva with Darrell de Silva, Anton de Mel and others. His music was widely featured on Radio Ceylon and later on the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, the oldest radio station in South Asia. Des also performed with leading Sri Lankan pop groups like Jetliners before forming his own band in 1976 – Desmond and the Clan.
Desmond’s on-stage persona and performing style together with his easygoing nature inspired many generations of local musicians through whom his musical legacy will live on for decades to come.
Super show in Toronto Just over a decade back, my dear friend and business partner the late Nirantha de Silva and I presented a super gig with Desmond as feature artist accompanied by The Gypsies with Sunil & Piyal Perera, Dushan Jayatileka (Keyboards), Derrick Hepponstall (Base guitar), Niresh Perera (Drums), and Radika Rajavelu (Vocalist). We had the dinner dance on Saturday and Musical Extravaganza on Sunday in a sold out back-to-back weekend presentation never seen before in Canada. All 1235 seats at the prestigious Ryerson Theatre were sold out two weeks before the musical show on Sunday. I picked up and dropped Desmond and his wife (living in London, England at the time) from the Toronto Airport and put them up at a hotel with The Gypsies. Got to know Des up close and personal, a friendship that has lasted the time until his untimely demise. Farewell Desmond, you leave a lasting legacy to the music world. We, your fans will continue to listen, enjoy and dance to your catchy hits and all too familiar voice. May the angels welcome you to God’s beautiful land! Rest in peace my dear friend!