By Arré Bench Sep. 25, 2020
Legendary playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday at the age of 74. Winner of six national awards, Balasubrahmanyam sang songs for five decades, for generations of actors, from MGR, Shivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, to the stars of the day.
Another day, another tragedy in 2020. Legendary playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Friday at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter – both are playback singers.
On Thursday, after learning that his health had deteriorated, actor-politician Kamal Hassan visited him at MGM hospital in Chennai. He’d told the media, “Life support machines are in use, can’t say he’s doing well. He’s very critical, everyone is praying to the almighty.” Balasubrahmanyam had been hospitalised in August after testing positive for Covid-19. On September 7, he tested negative for the virus but continued to be on ventilator and ECMO.
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) September 25, 2020
Fondly known as SPB, Balasubrahmanyam made his singing debut in 1966 and sung over 40,000 songs in as many as 16 languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Hindi. Balasubrahmanyam also acted in a few movies and was a voice-over artist for actor Kamal Hassan, whenever his Tamil movies were dubbed in Telugu.
Winner of six national awards, Balasubrahmanyam sang songs for five decades for generations of actors, from MGR, Shivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, to the stars of the day. “His was a breeze-like voice of AM Raja, with the softness of PB Srinivas and the effortlessness of Mohammed Rafi,” said film music historian Vamanan.
Balasubrahmanyam’s soulful voice coupled with his friendly nature and joyful demeanour made him a personality that was adored by co-stars and fans alike. “Paadum Nila” (Singing Moon), as he was called by his fans, will be dearly missed. Politicians, actors, businesspeople and ordinary folks from all walks of life paid their tributes, to a man who had touched their lives.
Prime Minister Modi expressed his grief and offered condolences to his family. The Prime Minister recollected how he had become a household name, enthralled audiences for decades, and that “our cultural world is a lot poorer” without him.
With the unfortunate demise of Shri SP Balasubrahmanyam, our cultural world is a lot poorer. A household name across India, his melodious voice and music enthralled audiences for decades. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with his family and admirers. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 25, 2020
India’s musical maestro AR Rahman shared a picture of him with Balasubrahmanyam and expressed his shock at the news.
— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) September 25, 2020
Actor and politician Rajinikanth shared a video message, stating that his voice and memories will live with him forever. As a voice artist, Balasubrahmanyam had been Rajinikanth’s voice for many years.
— Rajinikanth (@rajinikanth) September 25, 2020
Telugu actor Mahesh Babu said his legacy would live on. “Nothing will ever come close to that soulful voice of his,” he tweeted.
Unable to process the fact that #SPBalasubramaniam garu is no more. Nothing will ever come close to that soulful voice of his. Rest in peace sir. Your legacy will live on. Heartfelt condolences and strength to the family 🙏
— Mahesh Babu (@urstrulyMahesh) September 25, 2020
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered his condolences to the bereaved family and friends of SP Balasubrahmanyam. “His voice will live on,” Gandhi tweeted.
My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and friends of Mr S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. His songs touched millions of hearts in many languages. His voice will live on.#RIPSPB
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 25, 2020
Film producer Boney Kapoor put his achievements in perspective, how his voice united people across languages and regions. “We lost a legend today,” he said.
We lost a legend today #SPBalasubrahmanyan. Over 17,000 songs across 17 languages, his voice united music lovers across generations and regions. Your legacy of songs shall always keep your memories alive. Deepest condolences to the family. #ripspb pic.twitter.com/vfsSihNWar
— Boney Kapoor (@BoneyKapoor) September 25, 2020
India’s Chess wizard Vishwanathan Anand recollected how Balasubrahmanyam had been his first sponsor for the team Chennai Colts in the national championship in 1983. Vishy described him as one of the nicest persons he had ever met. A view that is shared by almost everyone who knew him personally.
Really sad to hear about the passing away of such a great yet simple person. He was my first sponsor! He sponsored our team Chennai Colts in the national team championship in 1983. One of the nicest persons I have met. His music gave us such joy #RIPSPB
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) September 25, 2020
“Someone so special can never be forgotten, may his soul rest in peace my deepest condolences to the family,” said actress Ramya Krishnan.
Someone so special can never be forgotten, may his soul rest in peace my deepest condolences to the family….#ripspb sir.
— Ramya Krishnan (@meramyakrishnan) September 25, 2020
Actor Nagarjuna Akkineni gave a heartfelt tribute, sharing a song clip on Twitter. “As the memories and conversations with Balu Garu come flooding back so do the tears… I still remember the call I got from him after my film Annamayya. He was such an unsaid integral part of my life,” the actor tweeted.
As the memories and conversations with Balu Garu come flooding back so do the tears… I still remember the call I got from him after my film Annamayya🙏He was such a unsaid integrable part of my life… దాచుకో స్వామి మా బాలుని జాగ్రత్తగా దాచుకో ! #ripspb 🙏 pic.twitter.com/pK8jYS5ONs
— Nagarjuna Akkineni (@iamnagarjuna) September 25, 2020
Rest in peace, SPB. You have touched everyone’s lives in remarkable ways, and your memories will continue to live on through your soulful songs.