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Jakarta Post

Rinto Harahap, nation'€™s melancholy balladeer, dies at 65

  • Hans david tampubolon

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, February 11, 2015   /  08:17 am
Rinto Harahap, nation'€™s melancholy balladeer, dies at 65 Rinto Harahap (

Rinto Harahap (

Rinto Harahap, one of the nation'€™s favorite musicians who was famous for his emotional songs, died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore on Monday night after a year-long battle with spinal cord cancer. He was 65.

His son-in-law Thariq Mahmud announced the death on Monday night. '€œPapa Rinto Harahap has returned to God at 10:15 p.m.,'€ Thariq, who is married to Rinto'€™s daughter Cindy, wrote on Path.

Pop singer Marcell Siahaan said that Rinto had been one of his biggest influences, especially when composing ballads. '€œI grew up listening to his songs in the 1980s. Both my parents were big fans of him and this automatically brainwashed me.'€

Addie MS, the nation'€™s foremost classical music composer and conductor, echoed Marcell.

'€œRinto teaches us the power of honesty and simplicity,'€ Addie said. '€œRinto is so inspiring because he shows that high technique alone is not enough in producing great works of arts. Rinto had this special gift that allowed him to express love and pain in his own unique way.'€

Rinto, of Batak heritage, was born in Sibolga, North Sumatra, on March 10, 1949.

He composed more than 500 songs in a career that began in 1969, when Rinto, his older brother Erwin, Charles Hutagalung and Reynold Panggabean came together as the musical group The Mercy'€™s.

Rinto and Erwin eventually went on to form the '€œLolypop'€ production company, which gave breaks to some of the nation'€™s most famous pop singers, including Betharia Sonata, Christine Panjaitan, Eddy Silitonga, Iis Sugianto and Nia Daniati.

Some of Rinto'€™s most famous songs were major hits in the 1980s, including '€œAyah'€ (Father), '€œNasibku Nasibmu'€ (My Fate, Your Fate) and '€œBenci Tapi Rindu'€ (To Hate But To Miss).

While some critics said Rinto'€™s works were excessively melodramatic, he once told in an interview that his songs touched on something more than heartache and sadness.

As a musician, Rinto had a sense of what contemporary youth would call galau (excessive concern about how others perceive you) '€” which is something that gave birth to the phrase '€œmuka Rambo, hati Rinto'€ (Rambo'€™s face, Rinto'€™s heart), used to describe hard men who were soft inside.

Dalang (puppeteer) and musician Sujiwo Tejo said that Rinto taught Indonesia that it was no embarrassment to express deeply personal feelings.

'€œHe shows that great songs do not always need to be about complicated social issues,'€ Sujiwo told The Jakarta Post. '€œHe gave melancholy love songs, which used to be degraded by state officials, the right to survive.'€

Rinto, who is survived by his wife, Lily Kuslotita, and his children Cindy, Ratna and Aci, will be buried in Jakarta, according to the family.