story of La Bambas
A youngster pursuing through the pages of the Ceylon Observer in
1966 spotted an advertisement requesting young talented people to
apply for a Talent quest to be held at the Coconut Grove at Galle
took the challenge to apply for same after rounding up three other
friends Rollinson Ferdinando, Priya Peiris and Lasla Fernando to
sing with him. The youngster Brian Fernando from the musical town
of Moratuwa had a fascination for modern Sinhalese folk music set
up by Noel Ranasinghe and the La Ceylonians. His ambition for a
long time was to form a group of this nature and so he thought that
this invitation in the newspaper was an ideal opportunity for same.
The boys received
a letter from the pop group ‘Jetliners’ who were conducting
the auditions to turn up at the Lewis Brown Studio for their very
first audition in February 1966.
remembers how Mignonne and the Jetliners stopped them after listening
to only four lines of modern Sinhalese folk harmony and gave them
the green light to be billed on the contest. It was the May 25,
1966 when they finally got their long awaited moment to be featured
at the Coconut Grove.
for them the crowd that gathered on that day were western pop fanatics.
They jeered and booed them. “Though discouraged we vowed that
we will rise up and make those who booed, give them a standing ovation
someday. “ Brian said in a special interview with the TV Times.
onwards started a story of blood, sweat and tears for the La Bambas
who were coming up the ladder of success. They were faced with loads
of opposition and fires of jealousy from all over. Yet they toiled
night and day practicing very hard to come up. They are still thankful
to people like Doctor Vijaya Corea, the late Vernon Corea, Noel
Ranasinghe (Leader of the La Ceylonians) and the late Neville Fernando
(leader of the Los Cabelleros), who urged them on against this tempest
of opposition and helped them in numerous ways.
but steadily they stole the hearts of people singing songs like
‘Enna Yanna Nelum Vile’, ‘Gala Yai Nadee’
and ‘Kurulan Piyambala’ which reached the top on the
Sinhalese hit parade and stayed there for two consecutive weeks.
Their ‘Kale Ukule Thiyala’ became a roaring success
but the golden nail which nailed them to the zenith of popularity
in 1971 was their ‘Cock-a-doodle-do’. Their fans went
berserk over this song.
The disc jockeys
at then Radio Ceylon had no choice but to play this song from morning
till night as there were gunny bags full of post cards requesting
this song. They thereafter revelled for years and years riding high
on the crest of a wave of popularity making even those who jeered
them on the 25th of May 1966 put their hands together like they
said they would.
Lately the gray
haired men as they are now wanted to take a break from the music
scene and kept silent for some time. However the showbiz men came
in search of them and pulled them out from their hiding. They had
no alternative but to oblige them. Their age old fans were held
spellbound at their recent performances at BMICH.
group comprise Brian Fernando (leader), conga drum, Rollinson Ferdinando
(lead guitar), Priya Peiris (rhythm guitar), Errington Perera (percussion),
Malsiri Wijesuriya (percussion /2nd lead guitar) and Annesley Fernando
The La Bambas
will go from strength to strength and wish to thank all their fans
who are instrumental in sustaining them right at the top.