Legendary Playback Singer Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam, popularly known as ‘ Gana Gandharva or S.P.B or Balu who has been battling Covid-19 for over a month and on life-support in MGM Health care hospital despite testing negative recently, passed away at the age of 74 here today at 1.04 PM in Chennai. SP is survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter — both are playback singers.
SP has the rare distinction of achieving the Guinness World Record for singing the 21 songs in a Kannada on a single day for composer Upendra Kumar. Another achievement to his credit is also 19 songs in Tamil and 16 songs in Hindi sung by him in a single day. The Padmabhushan awardee went on to sing over 40,000 songs in a five-decade-long career and became a notable pan-India and International star that many musicians adore and admire.
Remember the song Aaate Jaate… from Maine Pyar Kiya? The love anthem’s during the ’90s. These songs made SPB a notable figure in Bollywood as well. With this, he was identified as the voice of Salman Khan during the 90s. No regional singer before him, achieved what he did, the pan-India phenomenon. Throughout his life as a musician, SP Balasubramaniam held the iconic Mohammad Rafi close to his heart and hero-worships him and sees him as his guru.
Citing Rafi’s rendition of “Eh Mera Patra Padkhar” from the film Sangam as an example, SPB during one of his previous interviews explained, “The camera first captures the beautiful trees and then focusses on the hero. He had no training in music, as he commonly declares, he knows no theory of music and neither is his music an outcome of the rigorous sadhana of the classical forms.
He admits to having learned music from several gurus and from each, different aspects of music. When director K. Vishwanath asked him to sing for a Carnatic classical musician for Sankarabharanam (1980), SPB refused to take up the offer as he was not a trained musician. But SPB came to international prominence with the film and won his first national award for the film.
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