Earle Douglas Meerwald: Sri Lanka’s Big Band Musician

Author: asiaradionews

A new website has been launched to remember one of Sri Lanka’s
great big band musicians, Earle Douglas Meerwald who died in 2003.

Douglas Meerwald was born into a very musical and talented Burgher family in
Colombo, Ceylon. The Meerwald Family were well known for being first class,
first rate musicians on the island.Meerwald was a dashing cricketer and all
rounder at Carey College Colombo in the 1950s.He even won the Spooner Prize at
Carey College. His first love was music – this was his natural God given
talent.Douglas Meerwald decided to explore his musical talent. He joined Don
Daniels and the Ballroom Hornets and learnt his craft. He soon built up a
reputation as one of Colombo’s finest ‘crooners’. Subsequently Douglas Meerwald
joined one of the most versatile and swingiest dance bands in Ceylon – The

He appeared in concerts and music events all over Ceylon – The Manhattans
played at the prestigious Galle Face Hotel and at the Grand Oriental Hotel. One
of Sri Lanka’s talented musicians ‘Sam the Man’ joined the Manhattans in August
1957. This was the swing era in Ceylon and the big band sound was very popular
in Colombo. Many overseas orchestras visited the island including the great jazz
maestro himself, Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

The highly influential EMCEE column in the Ceylon Daily News of 1967 noted:

Not content with Church singing,Douglas sang the standards with great
acceptance. His interpretation of ‘The Lady is the Tramp’ has the stamp of
class. Quite naturally band singing had to come and Douglas started with Don
Daniel and his Ballroom Hornets. Later he joined The Manhattans….he was on the
air with The Manhattans on the popular series Bristol Nite
,’ observed the
Daily News. Douglas Meerwald also appeared on Talent Corner and Starmaker on
Radio Ceylon.

Douglas Meerwald was also well known for his church music, together with his
father and uncle Earle and Claire Meerwald, they were members of a leading
church choir in Colombo – The St.Luke’s Church Borella Church Choir.

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