Rock star Karl Roy, one of local music’s best acts; 43
Only the good die young, US singer-songwriter Billy Joel sang. Filipino rock singer Karl Roy, who died of cardiac arrest early Tuesday morning at age 43, was not only a good performer; he was one of the local music scene’s best acts ever.
Anyone who had seen his incendiary performances that started in the late 1980s were convinced that this grandson of beloved profarmer Senator Jose Roy would become a star in his own right.
Before there were the Eraserheads and many other so-called Filipino alternative bands, Roy and his band Advent Call were holding court at the old Mayric’s on España, Manila, and Red Rocks, (predecessor of the first Club Dredd) on Scout Tobias, Quezon City—breeding ground of today’s hottest rock groups.
Along with Chickoy Pura of The Jerks and Binky Lampano (former frontman of Deans December, Newly Industrialized Combo and Lampano Alley), Roy generated excitement as one of a small handful of vocalists who could enthrall any crowd. His hallmark qualities: kinetic energy, gruff vocals and a streetwise swagger.
By the time record labels went on a signing spree in the 1990s to capitalize on the local band explosion, Roy had quit Advent Call and formed his own group, the funk-driven P.O.T. whose album, “Yugyugan Na” (Polycosmic Records), yielded the irresistible, dance-floor-ready title track, a vibrant cover of the 1977 tune by another Filipino group, The Advisors.
But P.O.T. did not last long; its members blamed Roy’s allegedly unpredictable behavior for the band’s demise. This did not stop him from pursuing his passion. He formed another band, Kapatid, whose members included guitarist Ira Cruz and bassist Nathan Azarcon—who would later form Bamboo.
Kapatid released two albums, the self-titled debut in 2003 and “Luha” in 2006.
Roy never scored another major hit after “Yugyugan Na,” but his cult-figure status and reputation as crowd favorite in even the most star-studded gigs landed him on the covers of music and lifestyle magazines. With this solid rock-star image, he snagged a lucrative endorsement deal with San Miguel’s Red Horse Beer in 2007.
In September that year, he had just arrived home after shooting the TV commercial with Joey “Pepe” Smith and other Red Horse talents, when Roy suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.
He would recover from that, if slowly, and, these past few months, Roy was busy writing and recording new songs for a new band he had just formed, his manager Pam Lunar told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
On Sunday, Roy reportedly complained of difficulty in breathing. He was brought to Cardinal Rufino Santos Hospital in San Juan, straight to the intensive care unit. He didn’t make it this time.
In a text message to the Inquirer, his younger brother Kevin, vocalist of the band Razorback, said: “Karl … will continue to inspire a lot of people. Please do not grieve; instead, let us celebrate his life.”
Roy’s remains will be cremated Wednesday and wake starts on the night of the same day at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Doña Juana Rodriguez Ave. in New Manila, Quezon City.
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