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Together with his band The Flybaits, home-grown veteran singer Fredo racked up a number of Malay hit songs in the late 1970s and 1980s, including one of their signature tunes, Mengapa Perpisahan Yang Kau Pinta (Why Do You Ask For A Separation?).
But the 69-year-old, whose full name is Alfredo Vilenguez, stopped singing that heartbreak hit after his 11-month-old son died in an accident in 1999.
“The song brought memories of my late son. I couldn’t bring myself to sing it for seven to eight years,” the singer, who is of Filipino descent, says in a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur, where he now lives.
Fredo, who is married and has another son who is now 17, eventually started singing it again.
It will be one of the tunes he will perform at his upcoming concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio on March 6.
It will be his first solo concert in Singapore after more than four decades in show business, and his first gig here since The Flybaits did a reunion show at D’Marquee in Downtown East in 2015.
Another song he plans to sing is Kasih Berubah (Love Changes), a song that is special to him because it is one of the hits he wrote, composed, sang and played the instruments on.
In the early 2000s, a cover of the song became a hit for fellow Singapore-born singer Ferhad.
Fredo will sing a rearranged, updated version of the hit, although the rest of the songs at the concert will be just as the audience remembers them.
“When people go down memory lane, they don’t want things to change much. They still want to hear the originals,” he reckons, adding that he will be backed by Singaporean and Malaysian musicians who play in his other band, The Flintstones.
With The Flybaits, Fredo first made his name in the 1970s when the band were a popular live act at clubs, restaurants and venues such as The Neptune Theatre Restaurant, Apollo Hotel and The National Theatre.
In 1980, the band expanded their audience when they released their debut album, Mempersembahkan (Presenting), comprising original Malay songs. It was a success both in Singapore and Malaysia, with the pirated edition reportedly selling up to 100,000 copies, while the original sold about 25,000.
The record contained another of the band’s hits, Kenangan Lalu (Past Memories). Written and composed by Malay music giant M. Nasir, it came to the attention of late Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng, who sang a Cantonese version in 1983.
Fredo, who returns to Singapore once a month, hopes his solo concert will evoke feelings of nostalgia among his fans.
“Money can buy a lot of things, but can’t buy memories,” he says of the upcoming show.
“I’m going to try to create an atmosphere that brings them to many years back, before they had grandchildren, before they became grandmothers and grandfathers.”
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