Tamil Features

Eight Musicians Who Died Too Soon


Mandolin maestro U Srinivas, who passed away last week, was just 45. Artists dying early is an especially sad thing; they leave behind a void that can never be filled as we wonder what they could have done had they lived longer.

As the world mourns Srinivas, we remember 8 musicians from India whose lives ended too early.

U Srinivasmandolin_2115507f

Srinivas was a child prodigy that took to the Mandolin when he was six and debuted on stage at nine. After impressing with his ability to play Carnatic classical music on a western instrument, Srinivas started to collaborate with renowned musicians the world over.

Everything came soon to Srinivas.

He played at the Berlin Jazz festival as a teenager; and was barely out of his teens when he finished recording two international albums for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. He also started collaborating with John McLaughlin and other well-known musicians as part of a group called  Remember Shakti.

He traveled widely and his performances were well received the world over.

Everything came soon to Srinivas.

He died at 45.

Image courtesy: The Hindu Businessline



Swarnalatha, known for her ability to render songs of all genres, died at 39 from a chronic lung infection.

She sang about 7000 songs in a storied career that included several superhit songs for Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman. Music composer MS Viswanathan introduced her in his film Neethikku Dhandanai, in which she sang Chinnanchiru Kiliye Kannamma.

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Swarnalatha won the national award for the song Porale Ponnuthaayi from Karuthamma.

Popular tracks: Povoma Oorkolam from Chinna Thambi, Raakkamma Kaiya Thattu from Thalapathi, Maalaiyil Yaaro Manathodu Pesa from Sathriyan, Hai Rama from Rangeela.

Image courtesy: melodybuzz.com


01frChinnappa_rando_260980gP U Chinnappa

Chinnappa, a versatile singer and an actor, was at his peak when he died in 1951 from an unknown cause. He was 36. The musician and theatre artiste was seen in films like Jagathalaprathapan, Harishchandra and Mangayarkarasi, where he sang his own portions.

A 60-minute Harikatha (discourse) sequence in Krishna Bhakti, where he sang and acted, was shot in one take.

Popular tracks: Paarthal Pasitheerum from Mangayarkarasi, Namakkini Bayamedhu from Jagathala Prathapan.

Image courtesy: The Hindu

N.S.K-&-T.AN S Krishnan

N S Krishnan, fondly called Kalaivanar, died at 48. Although it was NSK’s message-oriented jokes that made him popular,  he was a musician as well. He began his career as a villu-paatu artiste.

NSK, known for his generosity and hailed as ‘Charlie Chaplin of India’, suffered severe financial losses before he died of prolonged illness.

Popular tracks: Engae Theduven from Panam, Kannae Unnal from Ambigapathi

Image courtesy: spgr.blogspot.com


M K Thygaraja Bhagavathar

Considered the ‘First Superstar of Tamil Nadu’, M K Thygaraja Bhagavathar shot to fame with Haridas in 1944. The film ran for three years at the Broadway Theatre, Madras. Quite sadly, his career was short-lived as the musician was jailed for three years. He hardly had any offers after he was released and Bhagavathar succumbed to diabetes when he was 49.

Popular tracks: Manmadha Leelaiyai Vendraar from Haridas, Vadanamey Chandra Bimbamo from Sivakavi

Image courtesy: http://www.fanphobia.net/



Chandrababu, actor and singer, died at 46. As a singer, he is credited with introducing western style singing to Tamil cinema. Besides singing for himself, Chandrababu also lent his voice to many popular heroes.

After experiencing several ups and downs in his professional and personal life, Chandrababu gave in to alcohol addiction.

Popular tracks: Naan Oru Muttaalunga from Sahodhari, Unakkaga Ellam Unnakkaga from Pudhaiyal, Bambara Kannaley from Manamagan Thevai, Kunguma Poove Konju Puravey from Maragadham

Photo courtesy: vamanan81.wordpress.com

222529_210190109001794_3445094_nShahul Hameed

Shahul Hameed shone in his short-lived career that ended when he died in a car crash.

After several performances on TV, Shahul made his singing debut with Usilampatti Penkutti from Gentleman. He was a long time associate of AR Rahman and sang quite a few songs for the composer.

Popular tracks: Rasaathi En Usuru from Thiruda Thiruda, Senthamizh Naatu Thamizhachiye from Vandicholai Chinnaraasu, Urvasi Urvasi from Kadhalan, Vaarayo Thozhi from Jeans.

Image courtesy: Shahul Hameed’s Facebook fans’ page



2002110600320201Mahesh Mahadevan

Music director Mahesh shot to fame with the song Poonguyil Paadinaal from Nammavar. He composed music for Kamal Haasan’s Kurudhipunal and background score for Aalavandhaan. Mahesh worked in about eight films before he succumbed to cancer at 47.

Image courtesy: The Hindu
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