Remembering Didi Kempot, from Street Busker to Campursari Legend

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Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaIndonesia is saddened by the sudden passing of one of the country’s notable singers, Didi Kempot, who died at the age of 53 on Tuesday morning. The man who is known as the “Godfather of Broken Hearts” - due to his unique sorrowful musical storytelling  - was reportedly rushed to the Kasih Ibu Solo hospital after suffering a heart attack.

    The following are compilations of interviews Tempo had with the campursari singer that gives you a picture of how Didi Kempot started off his career in music.

    Didi Kempot’s singing started off from the streets of Keprabon in Surakarta or Solo as a street busker. “I started at a streetside food stall in the Keprabon area,” said Didi in previous interviews with Tempo. Didi would often travel far distances by bus to Jakarta, where he also sang on the streets to make a living. 

    However, Didi once confessed that street busking was not just for the sake of the money, but also to “test the market” in Indonesia's capital city as he would not just stick to his campursari style but also sing songs from pop genres. 

    Didi Kempot came from a family with the singing bloodline as his father, Ranto Edi Gudel, is known as a comedian, songwriter, and acted at the traditional “ketoprak tobong” theatrical stage. So is his elder sibling Mamik Prakoso who eventually chose the path to be a comedian. 

    “I was around performers since I was little. But because my dad and sibling are comedians, I chose to remain in the musical path,” said Didi. 

    Entering 1989, Didi Kempot started his professional career as a singer by recording songs early in his career that was entitled “Cindro”, which remained unpopular for decades until the past year before his passing. 

    His songs are not just heard in Indonesia as he often would accept concert invites in places such as Suriname and the Netherlands. 

    Even though he sings songs that were written by known songwriters such as Anjar Any, he wrote and sang most of his own songs. There are at least 700 songs that he wrote with 95 percent of them telling stories of a broken heart. 

    RINI KUSTIANI | CHITRA PARAMESWARI | NUNUY NURHAYATI