Alston Koch talks to Australian PM on Lanka’s Tsunami victims at MCG fundraiser

Author: Dirk Tissera 19-01-2005

Toronto, Canada – Alston Koch needs no introduction to the world of music.
Having captivated audiences and dignitaries from around the globe, Sri Lanka’s
very own and once Asia’s Pop Guru, is ready to belt it out yet again. Having
migrated to Australia in 1970, Koch at 54, is sounding better than ever. I met
Alston Koch and interviewed him when he toured Dubai, the United Arab Emirates
in 1993.Having played with the Jetliners as a teenager, Gabo & The Breakaways and the
Esquire Set (Sri Lanka) in the late 1960s, Koch is today the managing director
of Fior Drissage, a premier jewelry store in Australia. Koch recently hit world
news headlines in over 16 countries with the world’s first diamond and gold
cricket ball that was brought to Australia, to celebrate, the start of the
cricket season and the opening of his jewelry store. Sri Lankan spin king
Muthiah Muralitharan was a special guest at the glittering ceremony Down Under.

Koch a lover of cricket was a special invitee on Monday night at the swanky
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to witness the ground-breaking match between Asia
Vs The World. The game was played to a capacity audience of over 75,000 people
and it raised $14 million for the Tsunami relief fund. “I was sitting with
the Australian Prime Minister John Howard in the famous ‘LEGENDS ROOM’ with the
Chairman and President of the ICC, Malcolm Speed, Chairman Cricket Australia,
Bob McKinnon amongst a whole crowd of dignitarie
s.”

I spoke with the PM for quite awhile and he was most sympathetic
towards Sri Lanka. We also discussed the ‘Diamond Cricket Ball’ amongst many
other things and he was a very patient and reasonable man being disturbed almost
every minute for autographs by the passing cricket greats
,” Koch told The
Sri Lankan Anchorman.

Koch is also actively involved in raising money for the Tsunami victims in Sri
Lanka. “I have been approached by the Sri Lanka association here in Australia
to do a series of concerts in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
.” “Being the
only Sri Lankan born with four International Awards and three ‘Gold’ records to
my credit I thought it would be the only way to give something back to my
homeland and the displaced and suffering people of Sri Lanka
.”

There is also a discussion of releasing a CD of my songs which I
will donate ‘free of charge’ to the caus
e,” Koch said. A student of Wesley
College in Sri Lanka, Koch married former 1970 Miss Ceylon, Yoland Ahlip. They
have a son James 23, and daughter Danielle, 19. Singer/songwriter and record
producer, Koch is the only Sri Lankan born solo artist, signed to an
International record label (BMG/RCA) with international ‘chart success’ in most
territories of the world.

He began his career in Ceylon singing with The Jetliners. After moving to
Australia, he formed his band Darktan and recorded three international hits for
RCA. His tours to international arenas around the world were first with Darktan
and then S’witch. He was later to perform as a solo artist on BMG/RCA and EMI,
which led him to hit London, Europe, Australia, Asia and the Americas. With
Darktan, Koch appeared on all popular TV shows in Australia, including the top
rated ‘ABBA TV Special’ aired worldwide. He was also the pioneer of disco music
in Australia and was hailed as ‘Asia’s King of Pop’ in Indonesia, Malaysia, The
Philippines, India and Thailand, entertaining the monarchy and presidents’ of
the territories, he toured time and time again.

His first major hit Disco Lady propelled him into the pop rankings globally and
earned him his first gold record. Disco Lady won him the ‘best new talent’ 1979
International Disc Jockey Association Award. Four Platinum A.R.I.A awards, two
gold discs, 18 singles three major albums and 12 internationally released videos
later, Koch survived! He began his recording career with RCA’s Living Sound
Records a subsidiary record label started by then GM of Channel Nine George
Chapman and entrepreneur Gene Pierson. The first song released on the label was
Don’t Stop it Now written by Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate fame and recorded by
Koch & Darktan. The flip side – Kings Of Soul written by Koch, received more
airplay on radio stations throughout Australia .

He appeared on all TV pop programs such as Bandstand, Countdown, Sound … etc.,
promoting Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’… You Sexy Thing became an instant hit
and Koch & Darktan rushed into the studios to record All the people sing this
song. This track, a reggae hit written by Koch & Darktan, released on RCA’s new
label Laser records, was the start of a radical change in the line-up. With
professional direction and more demands from other states for the band, a tour
of Australia with record-breaking performances in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth,
Cairns, Brisbane and Newcastle followed. The first big gold record written by
Alston & Chris Connelly in a garage in Floreat Park, Perth, was initiated and
the disco bandwagon began in Australia. Appearances on Australia’s premier TV
show Countdown with the Bee Gees and The Commodores, were followed on Channel
7’s Sounds Unlimited & Thank God Its Friday on Channel 10. Alston introduced The
Bus Stop, a crazy trendy dance routine at the time when performing the song on
Bandstand.

A new song, “sland In The Sun,” was written and released and after more tours
and performances abroad…Koch decided to disband the group and pursue a solo
career. “Gimme That Banana” was released on RCA in some territories and on
Cinevox in Europe followed by the Top 40 Chart success in Italy. By then, he had
arrived as a solo artiste. In fact the song became the National Anthem of Coffs
Harbour, a city of New South Wales and the Mayor of Coffs Harbour, presented him
with a key to the City. More releases and international touring took in a major
part of the Asian Continent and its neighbors followed. “Closer To The Phone” and “Vanishing Lady,” a magnificent version of Danny Boy received major airplay
throughout the territories. RCA released another album called After Darktan.

Koch was commissioned by the Kevin Parry Group to write the album for the
Defence of the America’s Cup – The Australian Yacht Challenger Kookaburra. This
was a lifetime achievement for Koch, as he had to write, record, perform and
produce an album in a month to coincide with the races for the Cup held in
Fremantle, Perth. He began the most ambitious promotional campaign in his career
with appearances on MTV in America and almost daily spots on TV and radio on a
worldwide basis. The music video for the Kookaburra song was played on every
live TV network in Australia and throughout the world including CNN and BBC. The
album is now a collector’s item. A release of the single I Want Your Love
followed and more performances led Koch on tours to Scotland, London, Dubai,
Bombay, New Delhi, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bangkok, Bali, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala
Lumpur, Penang …and finally Australia…! After a long sabbatical in Sri Lanka, a
change of residence from Sydney to Melbourne and an extended ‘break from music’
– Alston has re-entered the studios in Australia and is ready to tour the world
again….! Koch’s feats and successes in the music industry have been phenomenal
to say the least. He has put Sri Lanka on the global stage. The Sri Lankan
Anchorman is proud and honored to feature this superstar. And in Koch’s own
words: “Not bad for an old codger.”

ACHIEVEMENTS: 4 Aria accredited ‘Platinum’ Awards; 2 Aria accredited ‘Gold’
Awards; 16 International Music Videos released 1980-2001; 28 releases in 16
territories around the World; 17 years with BMG/RCA (Worldwide) WHAT THEY SAID:
‘Alston & Dartan’ is Australia’s leading & Original Disco purveyors’-Glenn. A.
Baker/Rock Historian, Australia ‘Try Again’ is one of the best songs released in
England this year…’ Mickie Most/Dave Most…legendary Music Publisher/ London.
‘Still one of this country’s most undiscovered talents, Alston is Asia’s answer
to Elvis’ Ben Mitchell…People Magazine (worldwide) ‘Danny Boy’…The best version
I’ve heard…. ‘ Donnie Sutherland’ Channel 7.

[Reproduced courtesy of The Sri Lankan Anchorman and Dirk Tissera].

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