April 1st, 2013…the 10th anniversary of Leslie Cheung’s death


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On this day ten years ago, Hong Kong’s music legend, Leslie Cheung committed suicide by leaping to his death from 24th floor of Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the city. He left a suicide note indicating that the main reason for his sad departure is unbearable depression he had over his last few years. His sudden death in April 1st, 2003 shocked the Chinese communities not only in Hong Kong but also in around the world due to his immense popularity worldwide. And he was only 46 when he left the world. It was such a sad news and a big loss to Hong Kong.

Leslie Cheung initially rose to fame as a Canto-pop singer in the 1980s after studying at Leeds University in England. His acting career took off in 1986 when he starred opposite Chow Yun-fat in John Woo Yu-sen’s gangster movie A Better Tomorrow. Other film roles included Happy Together and Days of Being Wild, directed by Wong Kar-wai. But it was his decision as one of the few Asian stars who dared to play openly gay characters on screen that made his name. Besides than starring in many films, he also performed many songs that became golden hit during his era such as ‘The Wind Blows On’, ‘Monica’, ‘Who Can Be With Me’, ‘Catch’, and many more.

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Affectionately known as Gor Gor, which means older brother in Cantonese, Leslie Cheung was considered one of the founding fathers of Cantopop whom also combines a hugely successful film and music career. In 2000, Cheung was named Asian Biggest Superstar by China Central Television, and voted/ranked the 1st as The Most Favorite Actor in 100 Years of Chinese Cinema in 2005. His achievements were incomparable with numerous awards he had won during his lifetime and extreme fame he had particularly in Asia Pacific, even until now, 10 years after his death. He remains as a superstar and a music legend in our hearts no matter how long he had left us. Even some of my Malay colleagues knew who he is. A very famous and talented artist indeed.

In 1997, he admitted to the public that he was bisexual and revealed that his mother and Daffy Tong were his most beloved. In the final years of his life, he was plagued with severe bouts of depression brought on by his fame and attacks on his sexuality, which eventually lead to his death. Despite the risk of infection from SARS and the WHO’s warning on travels to Hong Kong at that time, tens of thousands attended Cheung’s memorial service, which was held for the public, on 7 April 2003, including celebrities and other fans, many from other parts of the world such as mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the United States and Canada. His funeral was on 8th April 2003.

In my generation, we started to have interest in songs beginning late 1990s when Hong Kong rules the Chinese music scene at that time. And so, Leslie Cheung’s era is a bit early to us (he rose to fame from late 1980s to early 1990s). However, I still do like some of his films (which are now classics) and songs particularly ‘Catch’ (video of the song below). His voice is soft and he was perfect for rendition of slow and moving songs like this one. Beautiful and moving song.

His departure was really a big loss to the entertainment industry of Hong Kong. In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Leslie Cheung’s death, many memorial or tribute events are to be held in Hong Kong dedicated to this beloved music legend, with one particularly capturing my attention; a giant sculpture of the late Leslie exhibited in a mall with almost 2 million of origami cranes folded by fans around the world displayed inside a giant red cube behind the sculpture, which also broke the Guinness World Record as “the largest display of origami cranes”. Leslie Cheung, you will be forever remembered as an influential Chinese superstar we glad to have before.

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(All images and information in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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