Sri Lanka’s rock music scene lost one of its beloved artistes with the demise of guitarist Prasanna Abeysekera. He was 61 years old at the time of his death.
He was found dead in his room at his mom’s (Turin) residence at Maharagama on July 11. Prasanna had the habit of visiting his mother when he needed a tranquil place to cool off when constant music activities taxed him.
Prasanna had done a great show at a beachside venue a few days before his death. His close associates believe it was one of Prasanna’s best shows ever. His mother left him undisturbed when Prasanna visited her. But when there was no sound for some time from the room that her son occupied and seeing his purse on the living room table, made her concerned. When she got the door broken she found that Prasanna had passed away on his bed. It’s believed that he had died in his sleep.
Prasanna showed interest in rock music when he was a kid and was studying at Royal College Colombo. He once told this writer that music records were scarce back then, but he and his friends never missed an opportunity to listen to this type of music when they got one.
When he entered his teens he was bitten by the ‘hippy bug’. This didn’t come as a surprise because those were the days when this movement was gathering momentum in the world.
Prasanna formed the band Cancer, his first, in 1978. The music industry will vouch for the fact that Cancer was the first music group in Sri Lanka to play its own rock’n roll music. He was the brother of human rights activist the late Sunila Abeysekare. For the record, Prasanna’s maiden rock’n roll show was sponsored by Sunila and one of her friends. The music that Cancer played became very popular with the Sri Lankan audiences. The band had many shows at the Lionel Wendt. During these days, tickets for his rock’n roll shows were priced between Rs 5 and 10.
"During the latter stages of his music career he had shown a keen interest on playing blues music. The music he played daily had the effect of a dose of medicine on him"
Prasanna played music at a time when other artistes were minting money through bookings. As for Prasanna he chose to remain an amateur. His close associates say that he never fancied making music his profession because he disliked obliging to requests, especially songs that didn’t appeal to him. Prasanna’s association with music was continued with mainly to express himself. Luckily for Prasanna, his wife was employed.
During the last years of his life, Prasanna played for a group called ‘Sakwala Chakraya’.
During the latter stages of his music career he had shown a keen interest on playing blues music. Whether it was rock’n roll or blues, the music he played daily had the effect of a dose of medicine on him.
He leaves behind his wife Chandrani, son and daughter.
The music scene he entertained is sure to cherish the fond memories they have of him. May the vibes that this rock artiste created engage the minds of music fans for a long time.