Many young people do not know what music was like during the late 60's to the 70's. Well, I spent my teen-aged years during the 70's and I know that we were following a trend handed to us by the 60's "rock and roll" generation of those Elvis Presley wanna-be's, The Ventures, Fab Four and all that. What I meant to say was that while I was growing up, learning how to play the guitar, what we would do was copy foreign songs note for note, find a singer who sounded like the original, either from the US or the UK, and sound like we were the ones who invented the thing. In other words, we were mere copycats. You could just imagine how many Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Grandfunk and Steppenwolfe records we had to break just to learn the songs. Every long-haired teen-ager at the time had seen Woodstock, the movie, and sang to the tunes of the "Ten Years After", CSNY, and Jimi Hendrix fanstasizing that we were them. The closest you sound like the original, the better.
Then came Howlin' Dave and DzRJ! He spearheaded the Pinoy Rock and Rhythm together with bands like "Juan dela Cruz band", Resty Fabunan's "Maria Cafra" or Edmund Fortuno's "Anak Bayan" and people began composing their own songs. Soon enough, as rock is not the cup of tea of everyone, the OPM, which was more palatable to the romantic pinoy came into the picture.
However, this post is not about music. It is about a man who brought class to pinoy music the way it should be. Before him, musicians never stood a chance to compete with foreign songs. Now, the young generation listens to them as much as they would listen to those coming from abroad. Let's just say, he started it all.
This is about a man whose dedication to music is beyond compare. He was not just a regular rock jock. Aside from the beautiful music he shared, he always had something to offer his audience - an information or two about the artists, the songs and everything that would arouse our interests. He made pinoy music happen. He talked and we listened.
I just woke up in my room at a Don Bosco retreat house in Nasugbu last Tuesday after a tiring but fun-filled, values-laden session with Fr. Gerry when I read online friend, Gilbert's text message of Howlin' Dave's passing. From then on, varied images of him came to mind. A long-haired idealist singing Neil Young's "Birds" in a concert, my former students who are now radio jockeys whom I met in a concert working with him and praisinig him for his art and expertise, and lastly, him carrying a crutch to help him walk on Batjay's book launching, shaking hands with friends came to mind. Then, it dawned on me, he's gone.
Not only will he be missed by his family, especially by his brother, my friend Batjay, but the whole rock industry which he created and spearheaded till the end. His booming but gentle voice heard over the airwaves might be no more, but it will echo everytime I hear a new, decent rock band debuting on the radio knowing that this could be the start of something big. He was the closest I have ever gotten to a true icon. I shall content myself that I have shaken the hands of his brother, saw his family and was at least privy to what it's like to be growing up with him through his brother's memoirs. My condolences to his loved ones and to those whose lives he has touched throughout the years.
I know my post cannot give justice to a man as big as Howlin' Dave so I am attaching articles written about him here:
Eric Caruncho's The last of the singing cowboys
Pocholo Concepcion's Howlin’ Dave, Filipino rock icon, dies at 52
Rome Jorge's A cry for Howlin' Dave