By Nathan Bevan | WalesOnline |
He was the turban-wearing Elvis impersonator who came from behind his family’s clothing stall in Swansea market to play the Royal Albert Hall and support punk legends The Clash. And now tributes are flooding in after the announcement that Peter Singh – AKA The Rocking Sikh – has died, aged 74.
Hundreds of fans of Peter’s infectious, sequined jump-suited performances have taken to social media to pay their respects after the singer’s relative Amarjite Singh Chobdar broke the news late last night.
“Peter was larger than life and he’ll be badly missed by everyone who knew him,” said the postal worker and trade union rep who lives in Cardiff.
“He was much loved and a proper gentleman – he brought people joy and was a born performer.”
“He was definitely a Swansea legend, always stole the show,” posted one well-wisher in response, while another added, “The guy was class – a true entertainer.”
Meanwhile, Newport rocker Jon Langford of The Mekons said, “Very sad. I’ve had a picture of him on my studio wall for 25 years – cut it out of the New York Times.”
Born Narinder Singh, on the Pakistani side of the Punjab in 1946, his family had originally come to settle in Birmingham. And, after seeing the film Jailhouse Rock there as a child, he became instantly hooked on rock ‘n’ roll. Listening to the songs of Elvis helped him to master English, and his history of performing began after the family had moved to South Wales. It was in a pub there one night that he gave the crowd a rendition of The King’s Blue Suede Shoes and, amazed at the response, never looked back.
He was helped early on by music promoter Paul Durden (who went on to co-write the film Twin Town) who arranged for him to support The Bureau, a band made up of ex-Dexy’s Midnight Runners members – while Llanelli-born Pembrokeshire Murders actor Keith Allen assisted in setting up one of Singh’s formative London shows.
“My phone didn’t stop ringing after that,” said Durden in a 2019 interview.
“I was getting calls from colleges, from television, they all wanted a piece of Peter.
“A record company in Birmingham wanted to get involved.
“Then we did two nights with The Clash in Bristol. I knew Joe Strummer and their manager Bernie Rhodes. They wanted something different as their support act and asked me if I knew anyone.
“They loved him.”
Read the full story, ‘Tributes paid after Welsh music legend Peter Singh The Rocking Sikh dies’ (WalesOnline, 24 Jan 2021), here.