Sunil Perera will live in the people’s hearts forever with lasting music memories -Another Sunil Perera will never be born for centuries-
Legendary Sunil Perera expired on September 6th 2021 at the age of sixty eight years was born as Uswatta Liyanage Ivor Sylvester on September 14th 1952, in Narahenpita to a family of ten siblings. Sunil Perera was educated initially at St.Sebastian’s College Moratuwa and then at St Peter’s College Bambalapitiya.He married his fiancé’ Geetha Kulatunga born on 18th March 1967 when she was only sixteen years old with the consent of both parents.The duo are blessed with four children two sons and two daughters v.i.z.Sajith ,Gayan,Rehana and Manisha.Gayan is a musician initially with the band Daddy.Sunil’s nephew Lanthra Perera is the founder of the band ‘Doctor”.
Sunil has had music on his blood his ambition was to become a musician which his father had discouraged to give priority to education. However at the age of only eleven Sunil had commenced to play the guitar. The father after Sunil had left school at the age of 15 had created the “Gypsies” band along with a few others mostly cousins.Father had told them that he will invest but the group should practice properly having even paid them salaries and overtime if they practiced extra hours.Apart from Sunil as the leader there were Anton Perera,Nihal, Lal, Piyal and other close cousins ,nephews and nieces.Sunil had learnt playing the guitar from Vincent Jayawardene, George Ferndinando, while voice training too were learnt from Loren Abeyseketra,Lily Godridge and Maryanne David.
Sunil Perera married to Geetha Kulatunga who was born on 18 March 1967, whom he met while she was studying for her ordinary level classes She also met Sunil while he is attending a concert. Geetha Kalatunga’s father, Mahinda, was a Sub Inspector of Police in the Sri Lanka Police. On 25 October 1981, Sunil Perera was arrested by police in Homagama following reports from Geetha Kulatunga’s parents that he had abducted her; the case was later dropped, when Geetha Kulatunga was aged 16, she and Sunil Perera got engaged under a special licence,which was celebrated by both families.
Later, The Gypsies group consisted of his own brothers and cousins only. Accordingly, Nihal, Lal, Nimal and Piyal formed a group of seven including two cousins. Sunil was the main vocalist in the band, along with his brother Piyal Perera. His father also built a studio for the band next to the house on Galle Road in Ratmalana where they were staying at the time. In the ’70s, they released nearly 5 albums titled ‘Dance with Gypsies’. Their first hit “Linda Langa Sangamaya” was released in 1972/1973 era along with “Amma Amma Me Mata”. In the mid-1970s, his other brothers left the band and got involved in business activities. In year 1980, the Gypsies released the first cassette with the song “Kurumitto”. Other tracks sung by Gypsies included, “Kadapathakin”, “None Mage Sudu None” (1977), “Lunu Dehi” (1987), “Uncle Johnson” (1987), “Oye Ojaye” (1989), “Piti Kotapan None” and “Signore” (1997) and many others. Their song ‘Lunu Dehi’ released in 1987 was a song that made an amazing variance on the recital stage in the country and overseas. In the year 1997, they changed the course of the music field with the song “Piti Kotapan None” which was a ‘hit’ like others.
Sunil’s later works, such as “I Don’t Know Why” address socio-political issues through absolute humour. However, several of his songs have been banned by the state media due to their criticisms of the government. In year 2017, he released the song “Koththamalli”. He also sang and released “Buongiorno” in 2018, which was the first hit song to be released under the Gypsies label after a gap of four years. In 2019, he sang the song “Diyawannawe Inna” for the film “Jaya Sri Amathithuma”.The band The Gypsies celebrated their Golden Jubilee in 2021 by arranging a concert via many virtual platforms very well patronised..
Sunil Perera recently came up with his own ideology about the socio-political situation in the country. He was highly critical of Sri Lankan society and politics. He openly talked about delicate topics, such as sex, which are often deemed as taboo subjects in conservative Sri Lanka. He was also a vocal critic of the administration of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over the years. In 2015, he revealed that he was afraid of being a target of the Rajapaksa family when Mahinda Rajapakse lost the 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election.
In January 2017, Sunil went to the Department of Inland Revenue and insisted that he should pay income tax which no individual artiste would do or done.. Earlier, he had been paying tax for his income as a member of the music group only. Napoleon Bonaparte had once professed that music reminisces us that humans race is greater than we comprehend. The music played by a legend in the domain of the Sri Lankan music industry, whose enormous influence towards the upheaval of the Sri Lankan music bears testament to the above assertion.
The island bid adieu to Sunil Perera, one of the highly acclaimed and renowned stalwarts of the Baila genre of Sri Lanka over a year ago. Legendary Albeit Sunil Perera is no more, the legacy that he had left behind would remain in the archives of Sri Lankan music incessantly. No exaggeration remains in declaring that Sunil was unquestionably and indisputably a giant, whose colossal and genuine potential and capacity in music do not need an introduction; it is ubiquitous and well known both among the Sri Lankan music fans and critics alike.Sunil Perera was the synonym of “The Gypsies” and “The Gypsies” are a synonym for the custom of music groups in Sri Lanka. “The Gypsies” were a brainchild of Sunil’s father whose influence on his music carrier remained a blessing. The Gypsies and Sunil Perera is definitely a household name in the minds of all in every nook and corner of the island.
Prior to coming to the limelight Gypsies had performed at house parties after improving gradually they were invited to weddings way back in 1970s, one enthusiast when barely five years, still recollects the manner very young Gypsies performed rather professionally. This person now matured while indulging himself in a wistful and pleasurable nostalgia further noted that it was a wonderful evening, hugely crowded during which ‘The Gypsies’ showcased their enormous potential in singing and that was their very initial days of singing. The iconic and outstanding “The Gypsies” matured each year with foreign concerts marked their 50th year of music in 2020.
This guy had noted that the untarnished fame of ‘The Gypsies’ was persistently carried by the able and far-sighted leadership of Sunil Perera who truly represented the band. further pointed out that the utter most significance of Sunil Perera is the fact that he had been active in music from 70s until his demise which is a rather rare phenomenon that is possible only with a handful of entertainers of the world hence he is a LEGEND.Also had remarked that Sunil was an exceptionally outstanding musician who could continuously gave the most able leadership which kept ‘The Gypsies’ going. Sunil was blessed with an intrinsic knack where he truly felt the heartbeat of his audience which was often packed with his fans consisted of people coming from different walks of life; he sang to the people, regardless of cast, creed, race and religion.He never failed to put a smile on the faces of the Sri Lankans sans politicians whom he hated. After hus demine at a television dialog Piyal said if he sees a politician in the audience at a show or at a wedding reception he used to ignore and sing not looking at them.Such was in hate towards our politicians. Sunil helped continuously over the years the needy particularly in the Ratmalana area having a list.From his earnings he kept a side a tidy sum to them,They all flocked to Sunil’s residence on the 1st of each month to collect Sunil’s donations.To them Sunil’s demise would be a huge LOSS.
The magic about him is that he could stage the relevance to the audience”. “Ojaye and Kurumitto”, his ever popular classic, wherever played took the entire audience mesmerised. Meanwhile, “Thaththa mata anapu tokka dawale tharu penuna” made an enormous impact on the society, the young people.Sunil touched the heart of everybody who has had an argument with the father. Anyone from any walks of life could understand what he sang”. “Signore, Bus aka magathi keduna, Saima cut wela” are a few of Sunil’s well received and highly remarkable songs.
“The clarity in his pronunciation was the authenticity about his expression” It was noted undoubtedly that Sunil was a bizarrely excellent performer of par superiority and could unarguably stand along with any other versatile performer even in the international showground. “Sunil had an exclusive magnetic disposition which only a trickle of artists possessed. His songs were sung to everyone in the humanity which was accepted by all races in community.As he sang, you end up watching him. He was a fearless singer who was outspoken. He could always hold a crowd spellbound , house full of strangers into his singing”.
Sunil was a lyricist, composer of melodies , performer, and entertainer. In vivid capacities, he demonstrated the artistic charisma of a complete professional artist.“Apart from his own lyrics. music melodies, he sang the lyrics of outstanding lyricists in the island and among whom the biggest contribution was made by Hemasiri Halpita”. If Baila were a language, Sunil was a master that translated the language of Baila in Sri Lanka. Sunil’s boisterous tall spirits in Baila singing was irresistible and overwhelming.Sunil’s “Baila was of different scale and in his own inimitable panache; Baila tunes from Sri Lanka is a style of music that has travelled effortlessly to the world where the contribution made by Sunil is of prodigious eminence”.
Sunil had been a celebrity with a well-known Commercial voice right throughout. He often remained as one of the most sought-after voices in the sphere of advertising. “But, he never made money for living as an entertainer”, specifically made a mention on his children, particularly a son and daughter whose potential in music is tremendous and Sunil’s fans would be optimistic that his children would continue to follow his path.Sunil Perera demised at a crucial time where his presence in the sphere of Sri Lankan music is highly felt.
“We desperately need personalities in the calibre of Sunil. His demise is definitely an irreparable loss to Sri Lanka” in several ways. Another vocalist in the calibre of legendary Sunil Perera would never be born in Sri Lanka for even a century
May his remains lie soft under the turf while resting in piece.
Sunil Thenabadu in Brisbane…