India’s legendary singer and Guinness world record setter with more than 40,000 songs to his name, died Sept. 25, 2020, after a two month battle with the coronavirus at a Chennai hospital. The immediate cause was reported as respiratory failure according to news reports.
The country’s luminaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and fellow singers and composers like Lata Mangeshkar, AR Rahman, Bollywood actors mourned his loss, as did fans whose message flooded social media.
He is survived by his wife Savitri and two children, Pallavi and SP Charan.
According to news reports from Indian media, ‘SPB’ as he was fondly called, was admitted into the MGM Healthcare facility Aug. 5, 2020, when he tested positive for the virus.
“With the unfortunate demise of Shri SP Balasubrahmanyam, our cultural world is a lot poorer. A household name across India, his melodious voice and music enthralled audiences for decades. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter @narendramodi.
Lata Mangeshkar in her message in Hindi written in English script, recalled the two had sung many duets together which are flooding her memory. AR Rahman posted a picture of himself with SPB saying simply – “#ripspb … Devastated”. Rahman also put out a tribute to Balasubrahmanyam stringing his songs from 1946-2020.
BBC noted SPB sang some of the best known songs of the Indian cinema in 16 languages. Other outlets spoke of how the film industry of the South was particularly reeling from his death.
Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam was born June 4, 1946, in Nellore, in the then Madras Presidency.
Beginning as a Tamil and Telugu singer in the 1960s, SPB soon transitioned to the wider field of Indian cinema embraced by Bollywood. A playback singer of extreme versatility, music director, actor, dubbing artist and film producer, as Wikipedia describes him, ‘Balu’ worked mainly in the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, and Malayalam films. He received numerous awards both nationally and at the state level – Best Male Plaback Singer, state awards from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Filmfare awards, the NTR National Award for his contributions to Indian cinema, and the Silver Peacock Medal when he was honored as the Indian Film Personality of the Year in 2016, as well as the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, India’s highly prestigious civilian awards.
On his eponymous Twitter account #spbalasubrahmanyam, ordinary fans and the famous left messages.
said, “I’m at a loss for words. Never thought you would leave us so soon #SPBalasubrahmanyam Garu. Will always cherish the wonderful songs you gave us. There will never be another. Rest in peace sir”
People posted memories of their meetings with him, and videos of his performances at different venues. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living Foundation, uploaded the video of SPB performing at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of his Foundation.
Numerous people who had been associated with the great singer posted video condolences and memorials.