A spool back by Stanmore | Sunday Observer

A spool back by Stanmore

Stanmore de Jonk
Stanmore de Jonk

Listening to the ‘Comeback Concert’ by the Moonstones at the BMICH on Sunday, July 28, drummer Stanmore de Jonk was on an emotional hype that he could not be on stage playing with the rest of the boys. He could not see them but could hear them and memories of the glory days with Annesley Malawana and the Moonstones rushed fast through his mind, making him emotional, yet leaving him happy that the members of Moonstones reached out to the audience, after all these years, with a popularity that was hard to believe.

Catching up with Stanmore after the concert was no easy task but we were determined to have this conversation with him because somewhere around in 1976 he left Sri Lanka and found himself in Sharjah leaving behind his melodic cymbal and snare notes.

It is good to talk with you after all these years Stanmore, so let me start off by asking you, your opinion of Sunday’s Concert?”

“It was fantastic! It was well organised and it warmed the ‘cockles of my heart’ to hear all the old hits from Ratnapura the home town of Clarence and Annesley.

Annesley was in top form and so was Indrani, Sohan, Lalith and Laurensz Manricks who played the organ, sang an English song and literally rocked the hall. I couldn’t restrain myself as tears flowed down my face, thinking of the old days and with it the happy memories. Well done Annesley, you kept alive the popularity and versatility of the Moonstones.

Let me take you away from the concert and for the benefit of the readers go back in time to find out, how it all started for you - being a drummer and playing with a variety of bands here in Sri Lanka?

“I am a drummer because of Edgar Hebber the saxophonist from India who married my sister Lynette. He literally dragged me to Faleel Ziard, introduced me to him and made me learn the professional touch to my drumming. You knew Edgar and Lynette and I’m happy he made a drummer out of me not a saxophonist! So my first group was The Blue Sapphires which was led by the guitarist Stuart de Fransz, there was Bicky Schwallie on bass and Ronnie de Silva on rhythm guitar and me on the drums. I was with them for three or four years. At that time bands used to play for concerts, weddings, carnivals and big matches.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you also play with the Dakotas led by the late Joe Jayasuriya?

‘Yes, you are right. Joe was a good musician and he was a guitarist. The other members of the band were Tissa Wadugodapitiya on bass and Mohan, Joe’s brother was on rhythm guitar.

In those years 60s and 70s the accent was on the guitar but today that has changed and now it’s the keyboards and organ.

When I look back I’m amazed at the quick changes of groups I played with. When I left the Dakotas, there was the Ocean Nites with Derrick Lindsay and after that the Soundwaves with Errol Fernando on guitar, Rienzie Pieris on rhythm guitar and a wonderful singer Maxi Rozairo. I’m sure you will agree with me that Maxi is on a planet all his own.

He is unmatched. I haven’t heard him recently, but from all reports I’m fed with Maxi is on the top rung, as a vocalist. God has blessed him with a magical voice, and no doubt he has a large fan base. Before I joined The Moonstones in 1972 I played with Indrani Perera and her group Three Sisters. The opportunity to go abroad came my way in 1976 and I left for Sharjah and with Sharjah I left my music behind. But you know how it is with musicians; the pull of the music vibes is stronger, than your thoughts. So when bassist Tissa Wadugodapitiya asked me to play with the Blue Sapphires for the 31st night at the Hilton Sujairah I could not refuse. I came back to Sri Lanka in 1984 and went back again to work in a company till 2010. There was no music.”

You’re had quite an interesting musical career as a drummer, don’t you miss the excitement?

“Yes, I do. But I’m happy. I had my fill of music for 39 years and now because of my affliction I am unable to walk on stage independently.

“I’m glad Annesley made me join Moonstones and insisted that I come for the concert, to hear my colleagues. I was happy listening to the whole program of music.

“If brought back good and happy memories and I wish Annesley all the best in his career.”