“Rock Music is my Soul,” says musician George Peter who is recording his album in Dubai

He’s been part of one of India’s first rock bands 13 AD as a lead singer, is associated with AR Rahman’s oncoming concert in KSA and is recording his English album with a Dubai based producer. Manju Ramanan catches up with music composer and singer George Peter who is based in Cochin and visits Dubai regularly.


Were you always about music?

Yes, my dad is a violinist and has been quite a serious musician who has played with the legendary Yesudas. Both my maternal and paternal grand dads have been seeped into music. My dad’s dad played the violin and mom’s dad played the piano and composed songs. So, my dad encouraged me towards music. In fact, my grandfather gave me my first guitar when I was three years old. He made it for me. As for my first public performance, I was in Class 3 I learnt the piano and passed with honours. I then, lost formal training in music that I would stumble upon later! Majorly!

How did that happen?

An uncle of mine  ‘Charles’ ,  gave me a cassette of Phil Collins and Michael Jackson when I was in 8 th standard. I joined the school band when I was in the 9 th standard and dad then got me a guitar and a keyboard . I set up a school band and then, won a lot of competitions and when I started college at St Paul’s, the music continued there too. I later joined Alberts college  started winning trophies at  Zonal and National youth festivals. This inspired me to work harder in music and  joined Valhalla as a bassist and after a concert we did at The Town hall with the money we made went to listen to  ‘13AD’ ,  playing at Hotel Sealord to experience the iconic band up close and personal… Suddenly I was asked to go onstage to sing and I sang  Wonderful Tonight  by Eric Clapton and then‘Hey You’ by Pink Floyd.. I was all of 19-20 and soon, Pauly, the bassist of 13 AD arrived home and asked me if I would join a good band and asked me to come to the hotel that evening to sing again. I sang ‘When a Man Loves a woman,’ by Michael Bolton and a week later I joined 13 AD as the Lead Singer .. I couldn’t believe it!! So,Zoology studies took a backseat and I travelled with the band across India and abroad to packed concerts. We went to Delhi, to Pilani, Saturday club shows in Kolkata, Mardi Gras, Goa , Bangalore ( The Chinnaswamy Stadium was just being inaugurated) shows in, Mangalore, Bombay and more .  In a month we used to have 3-4 concerts and that became my mainstream work. In 1994, we went to Muscat and in 1996, 13AD disbanded.

How did you meet AR Rahman?

After 13AD , I I came back and joined the film industry.  And in 2002 , My dad’s close friend who plays the viola for ARR Mr. Rex Isaac took my CDs to him and my younger brother’s friend and Music Director Deepak Dev took me to his studio. ARR asked me about my previous work and I told him that I had worked with Mohanlal and Usha didi (Usha Uthup). I then recorded a song for his then film Bose, called Ekla Cholo Re, a Rabindra Sangeet on  a Shyam Benegal movie. After that I went back to Cochin, waiting for my next call and surely enough then manager Noell James asked me to come to Chennai and sang ‘Maro Maro’ an energy packed song from the movie ‘Boys’ with Karthik and Kunal Ganjawala. ARR then asked me if I wrote lyrics and gave me a piece of paper that had a few words a pointers. That is when I wrote ‘One Vision’ that spoke of how  children are the future of India.   It was a biggie and ARR took me to Delhi to meet the President of India, HE APJ Abdul Kalam whose short story “Ignited Minds” was the inspiration behind One Vision,  to whom we presented the song on Nov 14th Children’s day 2002. My friend Mehboob Alam Kotwal (who also wrote Vande Mataram and many super hits in Hindi Cinema) wrote the Hindi version to the song and  titled it ‘Ek Nazariyan’ . For some reason, the song couldn’t release. I later joined ARR in several of his world tours where I was in charge of the choral section completely . Some of the songs I worked with him teaching  the chorus section all the harmony parts to singers  Karthik (Filmfare Award Winner) , Naresh Iyer (National award winner) , Tanvi Shah ( Grammy Award Winner), Mohammed Aslam, Saynora (singer , Music Director) and ARR’s sister Rayhanah   and Isharath  include ‘Chori Chori, GhanananGhanan, Saathiya , Khaamoshiyaan , Ori Chori , Jiya Jale and many more but to name a few . Then  the privilege to arrange and sing all the harmonies( Vocal Brass as Kj Singh and I called it )  to the National award winning song for Naresh Iyer

‘Roobaroo’.  I also worked the same lines on  Khoun Chala , Luka Chupi, Khalbali  all from RDB  then Kahin Toh (Jaane Tu ..Ya Jaane na) Desh Ki Mitti  (Bose) and more .  Working with the Mozart of Madras on over 17 movies assisting in background music scoring , voice arrangements I also did  over 50 songs for Malayalam cinema and in Chennai.

All this after being a rock musician all my life and this was a very rewarding turn in my career as a musician. Turned Music Director  for the Malayalam film ‘Heartbeat’ that was well appreciated. The songs did top charts for six months. Hey Mizhimazha was a hit . Naresh Iyer’s first song in Malayalam. In 2012 , I composed , conceptualized and partly directed ‘One The Unity Song’,  with 160 Indian celebrities in 17 Indian languages and 60 singers ,  a  song  on National Integration , which features

The Padma Vibhushan Awardee The late Great Ustaad Ghulam Mustafa Khan Saab to open the song with Dr. K.J Yesudas , K.S Chitra , Shankar Mahadevan , Chiyaan Vikram and 55 Indian celebrities singing in their own voice.. This project took six months to complete and spanned the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. Produced by Apu John Joseph and directed by Sumesh Lal

Did you miss being a rock musician?

Definitely, that’s my soul… I want to come back with this album I am recording in Dubai. Performing in front of a live audience is the biggest high in the world. My friend Alex George, who I have known for the past 7 years is producing the album. Deepak P.A, (three time Grammy Award Winner)  & K.J Singh ( National Award winner) are on the album with their magic as well. There are songs based on social and environmental issues around the world and a song on women empowerment.


Who is your favourite musician?

I am an ardent fan of Sting since his lyrics are deep and musical, inspires me in songwriting Freddie Mercury for his singing and vocal techniques  And Toto the band for its song arrangements…


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