Ahmad Albar

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"Ahmad Syech Albar" redirects here. For the Indonesian comedian with the same birth name, see Bing Slamet.
Ahmad Albar
Background information
Birth name Ahmad Syech Albar
Born (1946-07-16) 16 July 1946 (age 70)
Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Vocalist
Years active c. 1970 - present

Ahmad Syech Albar (Arabic: أحمد شيخ البار‎‎ 'Aḥmad Šayḵ Al-Bār) (born 16 July 1946) is an Indonesian rock star and founding member of God Bless; in the band he is known as Iyek.[1]


Early life and career[edit]

Albar was born in Surabaya, East Java on 16 July 1946 to Syech Albar and his wife Farida Alhasni.[2] Both of his parents were of Arab descents.[3] He was the couple's fourth child.[2] In 1958 he played in the film Djenderal Kantjil (General Kancil).[2]

Albar moved to the Netherlands in 1965.[2] In 1970 he sang "Don't Spoil My Day" and "Tell Me the World" with Clover Leaf, which charted.[2] After his return to Indonesia, he founded God Bless with Jockie Soerjoprajogo, Fuad Hassan, Donny Fattah, and his friend from Clover Leaf, Ludwig Lemans; Albar was lead vocalist.[2] The band's first performance was in Taman Ismail Marzuki on 5 May 1973, and on 16 August 1973 they held the Summer 28 concert, the first (and, as of 2004, largest) open-air concert in Indonesia.[2] The band, with Albar, also played in the 1973 comedy Ambisi (Ambition), directed by Nya Abbas Akup.[2]

God Bless[edit]

In 1975, Albar and God Bless opened for Deep Purple at a concert in Jakarta.[4] On 27 September 1975, Albar appeared on the cover of Tempo, with a full feature on him inside; the coverage compared his costume to Zorro's and described him spinning the microphone over his head as if he were competing in a hammer throw event.[2] Other magazines, such as Junior, Aktuil, and Top, soon followed; Aktuil named him the best vocalist of 1976.[2]

In 1976, Albar and God Bless released their first album, Huma di atas Bukit (House on the Hill).[2] The titular song was an adaptation of "Firth Of Fifth", from Genesis' 1973 album Selling England by the Pound.[2] The same year Albar played in Laila Majenun (Laila is Possessed), directed by Sjumandjaja; "Huma di atas Bukit" was used as its theme song.[2]

Duo Kribo and other projects[edit]

The following year, Albar recorded "Neraka Jahanam" ("Blasted Hell"), a duet with Ucok Harahap released on an album of the same name; the two called themselves Duo Kribo, based on their frizzy hair.[2] The titular song was based in the concept of original sin.[5] That same year he recorded "Jelaga" ("Soot"), a winner of Prambors FM's Teenage Song Writing Competition.[2]

Duo Kribo released their second album, Pelacur Tua (Old Prostitute), in 1978.[2] Albar was then invited by Guruh Soekarnoputra to perform the song "Anak Jalanan" ("Street Children") at Guruh's Swara Mahardhika concert; it ran from 6 to 7 January 1979.[2] Later in 1979 he and Harahap released their third album, Panggung Sandiwara (Theatre Stage), featuring compositions by former God Bless member Ian Antono and lyrics by poet Taufiq Ismail.[2] He also recorded a dangdut album, Zakia, that year; the album featured six compositions by Albar and three by other artists, including Antono and Titiek Puspa.[2]

Albar later appeared in the film Irama Cinta (Rhythm of Love) along with dangdut singer Elvy Sukaesih; the pair sang five songs together.[2] Afterwards, in 1980, God Bless released their second album, Cermin (Mirror).[2] With God Bless later going into limbo, Albar recorded two solo albums, Dunia Huru-Hara (World of Commotion) and Syair Kehidupan (Poems of Life); he also recorded an album with Fariz RM, entitled Secita Cerita (An Idea for a Story).[2] In 1983, Albar sang "Rahasia Semesta" ("Secret of the Universe") at the 11th National Pop Music Festival.[2]

In early 1990, Albar formed Gong 2000 with Yaya Muktio, Harry Anggoman, Donny Fattah, and Ian Antono.[2] Their first concert, held in Senayan, Jakarta, on 26 October 1991, attracted 100,000 viewers.[2] Together the group released four albums, Bara Timur (Ember of the East; 1991), Gong Live (1992), Laskar (Screen; 1993), and Prahara (Tempest; 2000).[2] During the same period he was still active with God Bless, releasing Semut Hitam (Black Ants; 1988), Raksasa (Monster; 1989), and Apa Kabar? (What's Up?; 1997).[6]

Focus on God Bless[edit]

In 2003, Albar and Jockie had a large fight which led to Jockie leaving the group.[1] According to a 2011 interview with Jockie, Jockie and some fellow band members had been discussing Albar's drug habit when they decided to ask Albar to abandon drugs.[1] When Jockie did so, Albar reportedly pulled a pistol on him.[1] Guitarist Ian Antono confirmed that a pistol was involved, but he thought it could be a toy; he stated that the argument flared up when Jockie insulted Albar's family.[7]

On 7 February 2004, Albar and a group of Indonesian performers, including Glenn Fredly, Armand Maulana of Gigi, and Duta of Sheila on 7, held a concert to commemorate the founding of the Malaysian rock band Search.[2] At the end of the concert the singers sang "Rumah Kita" ("Our House"), from Semut Hitam.[2]

In November 2007, Albar was arrested for possessing ecstasy and hiding a drug dealer.[8][9] Tried in June 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison.[8] He was paroled in July for good behaviour and counting previous time served.[9]

In the middle of 2009, Albar and God Bless released 36th.[10] Later, in October of that year, Albar participated in a tribute concert to Chrisye, entitled "Chrisye: A Night to Remember".[1] With God Bless, in mid-2010 he went on a national tour sponsored by PT Multi Bintang Indonesia Niaga.[4] In June 2011, the band performed for Hard Rock Cafe Jakarta's 40th anniversary.[10] The following month, from 22 to 24 July 2011, he and God Bless performed at the InterMusic Java Rockin' Land alongside The Cranberries and Neon Trees.[11]


In a 2009 issue, Rolling Stone Indonesia ranked several songs which Albar sang or wrote as being among the 150 best Indonesian songs of all time.[5] God Bless' song "Kehidupan" ("Life"), which he sang, was ranked 8th, while "Rumah Kita" ("Our House") was ranked 22nd.[5] Duo Kribo's song "Neraka Jahanam" was ranked 18th, while "Panggung Sandiwara" was ranked 21st. [5] Gong 2000's song "Kepada Perang" ("To War") was ranked 114th.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Albar married Rini S. Bono on 28 April 1978; she had previously acted with him in Laila Majenun, with whom he has three children.[2] They divorced on 30 September 1994.[2] In May 2011 it was reported that he would be marrying Dewi, his girlfriend, while going on the hajj.[12]

Albar is a maternal half-brother of dangdut singer Camelia Malik and father of actor Fachri Albar.[12] His sons Ozzy and Fachri Albar are also musicians, playing in the band Jibriel; his nephew Bagoes is also a member of the band.[13]