Wally Bastian

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Wally Bastiansz
Birth name Augustus Martheneus Bastiansz
Also known as Olinton Mervyn Bastiansz
Born June 09, 1914
Origin Sri Lanka
Genres baila
Occupation(s) Police officer in Traffic division
Years active 1940s
Labels HMV, Philips, Sooriya

Augustus Martheneus Bastiansz, better known as Wally Bastiansz (Sinhala: වොලී බැස්ටියන්) (died January 10, 1985) was a Sri Lankan singer who developed the style of chorus baila in the 1940s.

Bastianz was a police officer attached to the traffic division. He was also an experienced guitarist, banjo player, and violinist. Drawing from his orchestral roots, he transformed the tunes of standards like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Mademoiselle from Armentières (Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous)" into classic baila songs.

There has always been some controversy over his name "Wally". It is very customary in Sri Lanka, even to day, for children to have nicknames. Although he was baptized Ogustus Martheneus after his grandfather Wilhelmus Martheneus, in the family, amongst close relatives, and even amongst his old neighbours, Ogustus was only known as either "Olie, or Olinton". Young Ogustus was not very comfortable with his name and mostly went by his initials O.M. Bastiansz rather than Ogustus or Martheneus. After embarking on his musical adventure he aptly adapted his nickname "Olie" to be "Wally", his well-known stage name, and, for all official purposes, presented himself as Olinton Mervyn Bastianz, maintaining his original initials O.M.

His songs dealt with everyday life and simple people. One of his hits ('Nurse Nona') was an ode to a nurse in a hospital and another covered the trial of jilted lover Eric Bacho. He sang several songs in English. Other songs written by him, but later ascribed to other popular artistes include Hai Hooi Babi Achchige, Yaman Bando Vesak Balanna, Ratak Watinawa, Le Kiri Karala,[1] Irene Josephine,[2] Kussi Amma Sera, Muhudey Yamu Masun Genenna, Weeriyen Soya,[3] Nondi Simaiyya, Wada Kaha Sudiya, and many others. The song 'Babi Achchige bicycle' was an actual event that happened to Babi Achchi near Prince of Wales' College, Moratuwa.


It is almost an unknown fact that the nurse in his all-time favourite song "Nurse Nona"[4] was none other than his own late sister, Felicia Florence Jayasekera (née Bastianz, died 1996) who worked as a nurse in the early 1940s. Florence gave up her job as a nurse in 1944 after her first child was born. In 1969 Florence and her family moved to the ancestral home of the Bastiansz family in Paiyadigama, a small village about 2 km north of the coast between Galle and Gintota, to take care of their ailing father Hinton Wilmot Bastiansz.

The old Bastiansz residence in Piyadigama, where Wally Bastiansz and all his eight siblings were born, is now occupied by one of Florence's sons.

Wally Bastiansz is closely related to Sri Lankan popular artist's Kanthie & Judy de Silva. Wally was Kanthie's (Judy's mother) father Edgar de Silva's first cousin. Wally's Father Hinton Wilmot and Edgar's mother Winifred were siblings.