Journey with SPB, other legends

Journey with SPB, other legends

Bass guitar stalwart Caleb Alexander talks about how YouTube videos help him understand the pulse of younger musicians

As a bass guitarist, I have worked with some of the best in the music industry. I now draw inspiration from YouTube. 

A self-taught man, I started strumming on the guitar at a young age after I saw my uncle play the instrument for leading music directors back in the 70s. It was at Tiffany’s in the city that I played as a part of the live band. I would earn a princely amount of Rs 75 per week for my performance which included playing the guitar while singers rendered old Mukesh hits. 

I then became a regular at Studio Feba near Mayo Hall and also at Deccan Studios. I was introduced to films by our family friend Chandrasekhar and have been playing since.

I was part of the revolutionary times when musicians from Chennai moved to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kerala and we as performers gained experience working with them. During the course, I got several breaks and worked with some of the best in the industry like G K Venkatesh, Vijay Bhaskar, Hamsalekha, V Manohar and Sadhu Kokila. I have also been lucky to have had the opportunity to play for Telugu channels like Maa TV.

Of the most prolific actors, Dr Rajkumar has left an indelible mark on my life as he came across as a humble superstar.

Once he visited the studio when the recording was going on and even as we all stood up to greet him, he requested all of us to be seated and also appreciated our skills. He truly had no airs.
I have had a long-standing working relationship with S P Balasubramanyam with whom I have even performed the world over. I cherish my association with SPB and also with L Vaidyanathan who understands the calibre of a performer and accordingly gives them notes to play. Vaidyanathan could also bring out a classic without using many instruments.

Back in the 80s, the orchestra would be different as it was full-fledged what with trumpets, sax, a percussion section, 25-30 violins and keyboards.

We would also have rehearsals where we could listen to every note but nowadays, recordings are a different ball game. It is done in a studio without the complete set-up. We rarely get involved with the song making process and thus there is hardly an emotional bond.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos to understand the pulse of younger musicians. I find some videos very inspiring. Some of the music streamed is exciting and exhilarating. The music is palpable and gets everyone’s pulse racing.