Roman Tam (1945-2002), a Hong Kong pop legend, sang numerous wonderful songs throughout his performing life and left a legacy of golden hits in the Hong Kong pop scene. His family generously donated more than 3 000 memorabilia items from different stages of his performing career to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum after his death. To share these treasures with the public, the museum will run a large-scale exhibition from tomorrow (December 21) to July 30, 2012, enabling visitors to revisit Tam's career development and the Hong Kong popular music industry's history through the display of more than 220 artefacts selected from the collection.
Entitled "Applauding to Hong Kong Pop Legend: Roman Tam", the exhibition was officially opened today (December 20). The officiating guests were the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; the Donors of the Roman Tam Collection, Ms Tam Man-yuk and Ms Tam Ming-yuk; the Chairman of the History Museum Advisory Panel, Dr Philip Wu; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Ms Belinda Wong.
Tam's good friends including Ms Pak Suet-sin, Ms Susanna Kwan, Mr Natalis Chan, Ms Sandy Lamb, Ms Eliza Chan, Ms Cecilia Wong, Mr John Chiang, Ms Maggie Lee, Mr Cheng Kwok-kong and others were also present to show their support.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Ms Hui noted that Tam had been a major force in the Hong Kong pop scene for more than 30 years, singing a number of golden hits. Throughout his performing life, he weathered storms and changes and witnessed the transformation of local pop music culture.
Ms Hui pointed out that pop music holds an important place in Hong Kong pop culture. Different generations have their own unique songs, which not only give people audio and visual enjoyment but also become part of their collective memory. These songs tell of the everyday lives of the people and reflect the social and economic development of Hong Kong.
"The exhibition interweaves stories about the development of Hong Kong pop music and Tam's glamorous performing life, bringing back the colourful cultural scene of the past century and paying tribute to the superstar," Ms Hui said.
The exhibition, featuring Tam's stage costumes and props, awards, photos and advertisements for performances, provides an overview of his career in the performing arts stretching over more than 30 years in Hong Kong. The exhibition not only reflects his achievements in the local pop music industry, but also shows his persistence, both in his choice of profession and in his pursuits in the arts.
Tam began his career as a singer in the mid-1960s when he formed a band to play popular Western hits in bars. He progressed to being a ghost singer for local films, for which he attracted attention for his vocal skills in his interpretations of Mandarin songs, before he reached the peak of his art, storming the charts with a succession of Cantonese pop hits.
Tam was committed to innovation in the styles of his songs. While his albums featured a lot of songs with a TV connection, he began to release music of different genres. For example, a concept album called "Wei" (Flowers) focused on the theme of the title, while a jazz-styled album entitled "A Mid-Summer's Evening" was also brought out. "The Laser" featured rap-style music and the highly charged song "Pussy Cat", while "Braving the Storm" started a trend for autobiographical songs. With the great success he was enjoying, Tam not only gained acceptance, but also received recognition and acclaim for establishing his own style. He had become a true icon of Hong Kong pop music.
A born singer with a natural talent for public performance, Tam loved the stage with a passion. He was also an advocate of aesthetic beauty who strove to provide his audience with perfect audio and visual entertainment in his stage performances. Tam developed an acute sense for fashion and absorbed the essence of stagecraft during his years in Japan from 1974 to 1977, and when he returned to Hong Kong he brought with him the latest Japanese trends to create a unique image for himself. He earned recognition as an innovator ahead of his time and built an inimitable style and a distinct stage presence.
In one breakthrough for Cantopop, Tam pioneered the Cantonese musical. Backing his judgement by investing his own money, he produced two Cantonese musicals, "Legend of the White Snake" and "Liuyi's Letter", with the specially founded Roman Tam Production Company Limited, in 1982 and 1984 respectively. Both shows were based on Chinese traditional folklore, with the stories retold through music and dance. While the productions provided little financial return, they received plenty of acclaim and gave Tam huge encouragement as he developed his future artistic direction.
Tam, who was able to stay ahead of his time and never stopped innovating and leading in the constantly changing pop music world, remains to this day a timeless icon in Hong Kong's pop culture.
For details of the exhibition, please visit the webpage of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum at www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng/exhibitions/exhibition_details.aspx?exid=176 or call 2180 8188.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is located at 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin. It is open from 10am to 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It will open from 10am to 5pm on Christmas Eve and Lunar New Year's Eve, and is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Lunar New Year. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
Ends/Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The opening ceremony of the "Applauding to Hong Kong Pop Legend: Roman Tam" exhibition was held today (December 20) at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The picture shows the officiating guests (from left): the Donors of the Roman Tam Collection, Ms Tam Man-yuk and Ms Tam Ming-yuk; the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; the Chairman of the History Museum Advisory Panel, Dr Philip Wu; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Ms Belinda Wong.
Roman Tam's good friends including Ms Pak Suet-sin, Ms Susanna Kwan, Mr Natalis Chan, Ms Sandy Lamb, Ms Eliza Chan, Ms Cecilia Wong, Mr John Chiang, Ms Maggie Lee, Mr Cheng Kwok-kong and others also attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition today to show their support. The picture shows the officiating guests and the guests at the ceremony.
A record for "The Singing Escort" from 1969. Tam was the backstage singer for the Mandarin-language film "The Singing Escort" and became part of the Mandarin pop scene afterwards.
A glamour photo of Tam from the 1970s. Tam was into avant-garde styling when he joined the showbiz scene, and he became renowned as a "fashionable singer".
The record for "The Romantic Swordsman". In 1978, Tam sang the theme song of the much-loved TVB costume drama series "The Romantic Swordsman". The recording took global Chinese markets by storm and sold more than 30,000 copies.
A production still from the Cantonese musical "Liuyi's Letter". Tam was unsparing in his efforts in promoting musicals. Following the "Legend of the White Snake", produced in 1982, Tam organised his second Cantonese musical "Liuyi's Letter" in 1984. The production team was made up of well-known professionals, and the show included music by Joseph Koo, libretto and lyrics by James Wong, and styling and fashion design by Eddie Lau. Susanna Au-yeung and Lo Hoi-pang were the main actors.
A costume with peacock feathers. Tam wore this costume when performing in his farewell concert, "Roman Tam's Glorious Stage", in 1996.
Tam wears his costume with peacock feathers during his farewell concert, "Roman Tam's Glorious Stage", in 1996.