The Guitar Knight Rhoma Irama

Thank to “Zona 80 Masih Ada”, musical programme of METRO TV Indonesia, which featured Rhoma Irama, singer and composer for Melayu music (dhangdut), on May 2008. Any information from Rhoma Irama is truly important for history of Indonesian music. Let me quote some Rhoma speechs in that programme.

Dhangdut according to Rhoma is label for Melayu music in his era. In his time, rock from Europe was very popular and look like would dominate Indonesian music landscape. As Melayu musician, Rhoma did like that situation. He refused such rock domination. That’s why he modified Melayu music with rock style — some thing that critic journalist then called it as dangdhut.

Rhoma also told an anecdote. Once upon time, when Deep Purple from British toured in Indonesia in 70-ies, there was rumor that Rhoma bought guitar owned by Ritchie Blackmore, one of Deep Purple members. But Rhoma rejected that issue, telling the truth. “I bought the guitar in China,” Rhoma said. In that time, he was interested to buy a guitar “Steinberger” from the music store. But the owner rejected Rhoma’s willing — may be because this such guitar is very exclusive. Rhoma needes to come three times to that store, before finally he could buy it, after the owner of the store and the boss of Steinberger, know that Rhoma is Indonesian superstar — as read from Newsweek magazine.

Rhoma songs are usually bringing moral message. One of his song Judi (Gambling) was banned by government, because in that time, under New Order Administration, gambling was legal as far as it was Porkas. “This song is against gambling, ” Rhoma said. His real name is Raden Irama. “But I want to undiscover my Raden and Haji, so that’s why I prefer to use my name Rhoma.” *


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