It was a big blow to the local music industry last week when popular composer Datuk Adnan Abu Hassan died of a stroke. The 57-year-old revered musician was known for a string of hits for singers such as Siti Nurhaliza, Dayang Nurfaizah, Liza Hanim, Misha Omar and Fauziah Latiff.
Adnan, who was diabetic and had hypertension, was admitted to Hospital Selayang on the morning of March 17. He died the next day.
Since the 1990s, Adnan had a knack for discovering talents who later went on to become household names.
Misha, whose debut and signature hit Bunga-Bunga Cinta was penned by Adnan, says: “I’m honoured to be discoved by a composer who had such a big heart, who patiently groomed me.
“He taught me the dynamics of singing and storytelling. And he taught me to remain humble no matter how well-admired and accepted you are by the people.”
Adnan graduated from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and later worked in various record labels in Malaysia, including BMG and Suria Records.
“He was like a father, brother, mentor to me. As my music and vocal teacher, he taught me how to be an artiste and a professional singer right from the start of my career. I even stayed at his house,” says Siti who was signed to Suria Records in the 1990s. “He was a cool man and had a good sense of humour, which made it less stressful when we were recording in the studio.”
Adnan’s composition for Siti, Jerat Percintaan from her debut album, won the top prize at the 11th Anugerah Juara Lagu.
The last time Siti collaborated with Adnan was at her concert last year.
“I was lucky to have him accompany me on the piano during my Unplugged concert in Istana Budaya last April,” she remembers.
Adnan also appeared in a few seasons of the popular talent show Akademi Fantasia, where he nurtured winners like Vince Chong, Zahid and Mawi.
Fatimah Abu Bakar who also served alongside Adnan as a coach on the reality show recalls: “I consider those early years when I was working with him as one of the happiest AF moments.
“He was so easy to work with, he was very dedicated and had a sense of humour. I think that was what made the students warm up to him even though he was such a big name already.”
In 2010, Adnan received the highest honour at the 17th Anugerah Industri Muzik, the Anugerah Wirama.
Here are three of Adnan’s unforgettable works:
Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu by Fauziah Latiff (1993)
One of the classic hits from the early 1990s, Fauziah Latiff’s Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu launched her as the queen of ballads during that era. A song about betrayal and love lost, the melancholic composition, produced by Adnan, suits Fauziah’s voice to perfection as the singer sings about breaking free from a Cassanova.
Jerat Percintaan by Siti Nurhaliza (1996)
There couldn’t have been a more perfect song to launch Siti Nurhaliza’s career. Jerat Percintaan is a beautiful ballad about losing one’s sense of identity after getting too caught up in a romantic relationship. The song, which features a soaring chorus, allowed Siti to show off both her vocal and emotional range. “He had his own magical way of producing some of the best local artistes and I am lucky to have been under his care,” Siti says of working under Adnan.
Bunga-Bunga Cinta by Misha Omar (2002)
Adnan always knew how to pick the right song for the right singer. For Misha Omar’s introduction to the Malaysian music scene, he wrote a ballad about heartbreak. Misha’s lilting vocals coupled with lovelorn lyrics from Adnan were the right combination as the song catapulted Misha’s career, and won the top prize at Anugerah Juara Lagu in 2003, a second win for the composer.
“Bunga-Bunga Cinta is a gift I hold dear until today,” says Misha of the song that launched her career.