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Christopher Bollemeyer


Tonny Koeswoyo

Koestono bin Koeswoyo or popularly called Tonny Koeswoyo is an important name in the journey of Indonesian popular music from the 50s to today.

Born January 19, 1936 - died March 27, 1987, Tonny Koeswoyo was the leader of Koes Bersaudara and Koes Plus, two popular music groups from the 60s-80s. Together with the two groups, Tonny Koeswoyo has written more than hundreds of songs that are summarized in hundreds of albums.

Tonny's musical talent comes from his father R. Koeswojo (Koeswoyo), who is skilled at strumming the guitar and playing Hawaiian music.

As a teenager, Tonny and his younger siblings, Koesnomo aka Nomo Koeswoyo, Koesyono (Yon aka Yon Koeswoyo) and Koesroyo (Yok aka Yok Koeswoyo) were bought a guitar and a set of musical instruments by his older brother Koesdjono (Djon aka John Koeswoyo). Since then Tony and his younger siblings began to seriously study music, so he can play guitar, ukulele, piano, and flute. He also taught musical instruments to his younger siblings.

After practicing day and night at their home in Jakarta, on February 17, 1958, the four brothers created a group called Koes & Bros and then Koes Brothers until it changed its name to Koes Bersaudara in 1962 and in 1969 Koes Bersaudara turned into Koes Plus marked by the inclusion of Murry as a replacement for Nomo.

Before the Koes Bersaudara era, Tonny Koeswoyo himself had honed his musical skills since high school. He became the main guitarist and leader who formed a band at his school, which was named Gita Remaja with four friends in 1950-1955. Later he became a singer, lead guitarist and leader with his friends Jan Mintaraga on drums and Sophan Sophian on bass and vocals, he founded the band Teenager's Voice in 1952 followed by Teruna Ria. The band often performed at youth events in schools. In 1956, the band changed its name to Irama Remaja with Sophan Sophian as one of the vocalists. In 1958, the band finally went on hiatus, as he was busy continuing his studies at university.

Along with the Koes Bersaudara, Tonny and his younger siblings were imprisoned in June 1965 for allegedly violating the government's ban on western-style music. Not for long, in September, the four brothers were finally released. This jail experience resulted in two Koes Bersaudara albums, Jadikan Aku Dombamu and To The So Called The Guilties.

Tonny Koeswoyo is famous for writing songs with simple chords and simple lyrics. Most of his lyrics talk about love and the problems of young people and love for the homeland.

When Koes Bersaudara changed its name to Koes Plus, Tonny wrote many Indonesian-style Pop albums, not to mention exploring Indonesian cultures in Pop style. From Javanese Pop, Malay Pop, Keroncong, Qasidah are all worked on by Koes Plus in its albums.