Gary Lawyer returns to the Mumbai stage with 60's tunes

Apr 08, 2018, 09:20 IST | Benita Fernando

The bass baritone's ardent following should be delighted, for it is not often that we get to catch the legend onstage

Rock legend Gary Lawyer at his home in Carmichael Road. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Rock legend Gary Lawyer at his home in Carmichael Road. Pic/Bipin Kokate

All my gurus belong to the sixties," says Gary Lawyer. For his die-hard fans, this admission should come as barely a surprise. Over the last 30 years, we have heard Lawyer deploy his golden voice on eager listeners, and we are, by this time, well-aware of his inspirations. "The sixties is all-important because it sparked off a whole new generation of artistes in the seventies, like Led Zeppelin and Queen. The world changed, attitudes and thoughts changed - you could do what you believed in," he says, over a call we make last week.

Lawyer, one of the top names from the early Indian rock community and the legend who has been the opening act for Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, has other reasons to be fond of the sixties. Even as a young child, he savoured the velvety voice of Nat King Cole through a cherished collection of LPs belonging to his late mother, Dhun. "I came from a background of music, particularly Western music. My father [Rustom] had the nicest collection in the world," he says, recalling the time when his father visited Rhythm House every Wednesday to pick up the latest releases. Growing up in Peddar Road, Lawyer used his pocket-money to build his own collection of Andy Williams and Ray Charles (whom he would bump into often in New York in his later years). "As a child, I saw the birth of Elvis, you know. He changed the way we dressed. From gentlemanly suits it went to leather jackets and sideburns," he says.

This coming week, Lawyer will recall the special sixties in a stage show at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. He is set to render some of the big Sinatra numbers, such as Strangers in the Night, alongside "hidden" ones, like Moonlight Serenade. "Be it Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or Jim Morrison - the sixties was the time of an explosion in Western music. These were the three major influences, but I would like to think that it all began with Sinatra. He changed the face of Western music," he says. Also stay tuned for songs by Dean Martin, Ray Charles, and Sammy Davis Jr, among others.

The bass baritone's ardent following should be delighted, for it is not often that we get to catch the legend onstage. He travels, sure, for regional and international gigs, but, a public show in Mumbai has been a while on his calendar. Lawyer, who defiantly eschewed Bollywood playback singing (save for one song, and one song alone, he emphasises), says that he prefers to keep a low profile because "I am content with who I am". "I prefer to do my music my way, as Sinatra put it. I like to live my life my way, which is why I don't hire a manager, a promoter or an agent. I can't hire anyone because I can't fire anyone! It's not in my nature," he says. A couple of years ago, Lawyer released an indie album, Unbelong, and prefers, these days, to record jazz standards from his home at Carmichael Road. All of these are available on his website for listening. "People might know me as a rock-n-roller, but I come from jazz," he says.

Times have changed, he says, and Mumbai's music scene suffers from lack of venues, and spacious ones, at that. But, in the world of music, there is no time to get old, says The Man with the Golden Voice, adding, when we ask his age, that he is certainly younger than Mick Jagger.

When: April 15, 7 pm
Where: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point,
Entry: Rs 500-Rs 2,000
Call: 66223737

Also ReadStraight From The Heart: Gary Lawyer

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