Pop singer, 'godfather' of Hong Kong's music industry

Roman Tam, much-recorded flamboyant pop singer known as the “godfather” of Hong Kong’s music industry yet one who could also perform in traditional Chinese operas and musicals, died in that city Friday Oct. 18 after fighting liver cancer for more than a year. He was 52.

He shot to fame in the 1970s by singing and recording theme songs to numerous local TV dramas.

He sparked controversy when he performed in drag and posed nude in 1983 for a magazine. Still, he remained one of Hong Kong’s most popular crooners until he retired in 1996. His best-known hits, such as “Under the Lion Rock,” are still played on Southeast Asian radio.

Amusement park security guard and bank employee made his musical debut in 1967 with the group Roman and the Four Steps and eventually released 56 albums, primarily in canto-pop (in the Cantonese dialect).

He was the first Asian to perform at London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

He was elected Hong Kong’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 1983.

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