To pursue his dream, he left home with his guitar — despite being born in an aristocratic family he decided to struggle on his own. With only Tk 600 taka, in his pocket, he came to the capital for the love of music. He never wanted aristocracy, rather the madness of rock ‘n roll. His desperate determination turned him from a port city rocker to the legendary Rock Star!

The contribution of the legendary Rockstar Ayub Bachchu, in making the band music scene so popular in Bangladesh has been immense. With the wizardry of six strings and a mixture of Bengali sentiment-struggle into the lyrics, he took Bengali rock to a whole new level. From his distorted guitar sound to powerful stage appearances and his personality — everything made him the ultimate inspiration to follow and look up to.

Little Robin and His Guitar Love

Robin (Ayub Bachchu’s nickname) was born on August 16, 1962, of an aristocratic family in the then East Pakistan city of Chittagong. The ’70s were the days belonged to Pop Guru Azam Khan and teenage Robin was his diehard fan. Nayan Munshi, one of the legendary guitarists of Bangladesh, captured the mind of little Robin, with his curly hair, open shirt, and extraordinary skill, playing guitar. After listening to his impeccable music, Robin decided that he did not want anything else in his life but to play the guitar in such a wonderful way.

Like The Guitar God Hendrix

The family never had a very congenial environment for music. Even so, he got his first acoustic guitar from his father in 1973 or ’74. Back then, it was not the time for music school or YouTube videos. What he used to learn was through his own practice and impulse of interest. While in class five, he even borrowed a Teisco guitar from a friend and continued to practice. In Chittagong his learning started to a Burmese guitar teacher, from whom he learned to play chords; learned the relationship and connection of chords. Ayub Bachchu was mostly inspired by watching the Guitar God Jimi Hendrix. Like him, he always wanted to play expressing his emotions through the guitar, not by following the notes and theories. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Rusty Cooley, Andy James were also his favorite guitarists.

, Ayub Bachchu surprised the audience bringing Oni Hasan up on stage
On 26 October 2013, during a concert at Hotel Sonargaon, Ayub Bachchu surprised the audience bringing Oni Hasan up on stage; Photographer: Ahmed J. Nahian

Feelings to LRB

Ayub Bachchu (AB) began his career in the sphere of band music from his hometown, port city Chittagong, joining the band Feelings in 1978 at the age of 16 only. For about three years, he played English songs in various hotels in Chittagong with Feelings. He introduced the audience of Bangladesh to English hard-rock, blues, alternative rock since the seventies, with his performance. Ayub Bachchu recorded his voice for the very first time in the song Harano Bikeler Golpo (Lost Afternoon Story) of Shahid Mahmud Jangi. In the 1980s he started playing with the popular band Souls and was associated with this band for 10 long years.

His first solo album, Rokto Golap (Blood Rose), was released in 1986 while he was in Souls. In 1989, his second album Moyna was released, through which he attracted the attention of the audience.

Ayub Bachchu decided to form his own band after 1990. Leaving Souls, he formed Little River Band or LRB which officially started its journey on April 5, 1991. Later the band was renamed to Love Runs Blind, keeping the acronym same, LRB.

AB took the Bengali rock music to another height with his melodies and songs of LRB. The first-ever double album in Bangladesh, LRB-1, and LRB-2 seems to be a reflection of his band revolutionary mind. These two albums achieved a triumphing response from the audience.

After that, the following albums were released regularly-

  • Sukh
  • Tobuo
  • Ghumonto Shohore
  • Shopno
  • Amader Bissoy
  • Mon Chaile Mon Pabe
  • Ochena Jibon
  • Mone Ache Naki Nai
  • Sporsho

Notable songs from Sukh album are Sukh (Happiness), Cholo Bodle Jai (Let’s change), Rupali Guitar (Silver guitar), Gotokal Rate (At last night). Cholo Bodle Jai is one of the most popular songs in Bangladeshi music. Bachchu himself has written the lyrics and composed this song. This is the song that he had to sing countless times, at various concerts on the request of fans. The band’s latest album Juddho (The War), was released in 2012. The only live album of this band, Ferari Mon (The Wanted Mind), was released in 1996.

With the wizardry of six strings, AB has always amazed the audience
With the wizardry of six strings, AB has always amazed the audience; Source: FB (AB’s wall)

Although he worked on two solo albums while in Souls, Ayub Bachchu focused on it again after forming his own band. In 1995, he released his third solo album, Koshto (Pain), along with the fourth band album, Ghumonto Shohore (In the sleeping city). Koshto Kake Bole (What’s Pain), Koshto Pete Valobashi (Love to be Hurt), Obak Hridoy (Surprised Heart), and Amio Manush (I’m A Human Too) – these songs from the album became quite popular. He also did playback in Bengali films. Ananta Prem Tumi Dao Amake (Give Me the Eternal Love) is one of the popular Bengali film songs. This is the first film song he sang. The name of the film was Loottoraj (Looting). Sound of Silence is Ayub Bachchu’s only instrumental album.

Wizard of Six Strings

Ayub Bachchu was not only a famous guitarist of Bangladesh but also one of the renowned rock and blues guitarists of South Asia. He had the honor of being a judge in India’s IIM Joka Rockfest, Benson & Hedges Star Search, D-Rockstar, and many more regional competitions. Ayub Bachchu is the only Bangladeshi rock guitarist to have performed in Madison Square, New York. Besides, he has spread the magic of his six strings all over the world; Austria, London, Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, Hong Kong, Cyprus are some of the countries to name on the list. Despite touring so many countries, Ayub Bachchu’s respect for his country was always above all. There is also a story about this.

Ayub Bachchu Never Played Again!

In 1998, he went to perform in New York for the first time with his band, LRB. After the show, while visiting the New York Guitar Center, a glass boxed ‘Ibanez’ guitar caught the sight of guitar lover AB. When the manager of the shop was asked about the guitar, knowing his Bangladeshi identity, he said, “This guitar is not for Bangladeshis like you. It’s the most expensive guitar here, you had better see the other one.”

AB was quite hurt by the insult to the country and became stubborn at that moment. He requested to take the guitar only once to see and said that he would buy it even with every penny the team had. When he started playing the guitar, almost everyone in the shop gathered. The manager of the shop was also impressed by his playing and wanted to give the guitar at half price, but AB said politely, “Ayub Bachchu does not play the guitar twice for which his country is dishonored.”

Ayub Bachchu playing with band Spider
In 1976, Ayub Bachchu playing with band Spider in Chittagong. Spider was lead by Jacob Diaz from whom AB took guitar lessons; Source: FB

Leaving Behind His Silver Guitars

In Ayub Bachchu’s four long decades of music expedition, except a few, almost all of his compositions were super hits. He was a true idol to his fans, young guitarists, and band music lovers with his personality, stardom, friendliness, and philosophy of life that made them chant his name, AB. Either on stage or off, he had always loved this chanting of the fans.

Ayub Bachchu's son Ahnaf Tazwar Ayub's first public appereace with LRB
Backstage, before the concert at JFP. Ayub Bachchu’s son Ahnaf Tazwar Ayub’s first public appearance with LRB; Photographer: Mahbub Faisal

On October 18, 2018, on his way to the hospital from his residence in Moghbazar, the Bengali rock music superstar, Ayub Bachchu died of a heart attack. Like the verses from his song Rupali Guitar or The Silver Guitar, “One day I’ll go far, too far, leaving this Silver Guitar of mine” – creating an irreplaceable void in Bengali band music sphere and making hundreds of band musicians guardianless, he has left the whole nation in tears. But from generation to generation, Ayub Bachchu will be a huge inspiration to Bengali rock music lovers and guitarists.

Translation: Aliduzzaman Biswas
Student, University of Dhaka
Featured Image: Facebook (AB’s wall)
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