In memory of Leslie Cheung

Updated: 2008-03-31 09:37

A poster of late Hong Kong star Leslie Cheung. []

On April 1st five years ago, the Asian entertainment industry and Chinese community world-wide were shocked by the death of Hong Kong singer, actor Leslie Cheung, who was also known by his Chinese name, Zhang Guorong. As one of Asia's most popular performers and intriguing personalities, Leslie Cheung is a legend of Hong Kong showbiz whose color never faded. Dearly nicknamed as elder brother by his friends and his fans, Cheung was considered as a phenomena of Hong Kong who contributed to the founding of the booming Cantopop scene, and who combined a hugely successful film and music career. So with today's China Beat, we will pay tribute to this legendary figure of artistic talents and smoldering charisma, Leslie Cheung.

Leslie Cheung was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong. At an early age, he was sent to England as a boarder at Eccles Hall School and worked as a bartender at his relatives' restaurant and sang during the weekends. In 1977 after Leslie returned to Hong Kong, he took part in the Asian Music Contest held by Rediffusion Television (RTV) and won second prize by singing Don McLean's American Pie. Later on, he signed a contract with RTV, the former of Asia Television Limited and began his career in the entertainment industry.

The early days of Leslie Cheung's career were not easy. He was once booed off the stage during a public performance, and his first two albums didn't sell well either. In 1982, Cheung joined Capital Artists upon the end of his contract with RTV. One year later, he released his first hit song, "The Wind Blows On". In 1984, he released his first top ten hit song "Monica", which became the first so-called "fast" song that won the Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award by Radio Television Hong Kong. "Monica" became representative of a new genre of Hong Kong music in the mid 1980s. Fans began to demand fast and energetic Cantopop songs that would be suitable for both dancing and listening.

In 1986, Leslie Cheung joined Cinepoly Records Hong Kong and released the album Summer Romance, which turned out to be the Best Selling CD of the Year. While working with Cinepoly Records, Cheung reached his fame as one of the top two Cantopop idols along with Allen Tam. In 1988, Cheung composed one of his most famous hits "Silence is Golden".

During years with Cinepoly Records, Leslie Cheung released quite some memorable albums like Hot Summer, Virgin Snow, Final Encounter, and Salute. Salute was the first non-profit album released by a superstar in Hong Kong music history that only had songs performed originally by other singers. Leslie once said Salute was his homage to music. He donated all the proceeds from the sales of Salute to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and was named the Leslie Cheung Memorial Scholarship after his death.

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