My aunt is visiting from Hong Kong and had to empty her closet at my grandmother’s home. This is how I was passed down these old vinyls from the late 80s, maybe early 90s, period during which stars like Alan Tam, Hacken Lee and, of course, Jacky Cheung and Leslie Cheung were just about starting their career. I was disappointed to find no Faye Wong or Teresa Teng, but I think it’s because the former wasn’t very popular until 1992-ish and that the latter was not so cool for young people considering that she had her career going since the late 1960s.
This is Alan Tam 譚詠麟, and I remember listening to his songs when I was 3-5 years old. I especially remembered him because the last character of his name “麟” is a Cantonese homonym of the last character in my Chinese name, “倫”. The other singer I listened to as a toddler was George Lam, otherwise known as the guy with a moustache. Another aunt liked his music — and her husband also sported (and still sports) a similar moustache.
Danny Chan 陳百強 is a singer that I did not know about until seeing Hong Kong omnibus film Trivial Matters. In one of the stories, two girls who sang Danny Chan’s songs together at the karaoke take very different paths in life after they both become teenage mothers. Probably one of the reasons I did not hear of him before, aside from being Cantopop-illiterate: he died in 1993.
Then there is Hacken Lee 李克勤. He was very popular in the late 80s and early 90s and, after a slow period of a decade, became very popular again with top-selling hits. My impression is that when I heard of him for the first time in 2002-ish, he looked like an old(er) star with youthful fashion habits.
Then of course, you have the two that I always confused, Leslie Cheung 張國榮 and Jacky Cheung 張學友. The former committed suicide in 2003 on April’s Fool in a similar way his character in the last movie he ever appeared in was also going to kill himself. The latter is the one I quote from my uncle for having performed in Montreal sometime (a few times?) in the 1990s. Since then, no major Hong Kong star would ever come to Montreal ever again, except to my knowledge for at17 and then Jason Chan, invited by RVision Productions with the financial backing of Yat Lo, the Montreal business person who runs Loch Cellular in Chinatown. Of course, it doesn’t make things easier when a certain Jackie Chan became famous in the West.