A brother’s tribute to the Gendang master

As a tribute to his brother, Zahid is organising a concert that would feature talents that had worked with Yazit


Yazit passed away at 11.53am on Sept 25 and his body was laid to rest at the Raudathul Sakinah Muslim Cemetery in Taman Selasih, Gombak (Source: Persatuan Seniman Malaysia)

“I WISH we had more time to play together,” Zahid Ahmad said, as he reminisced the good old days with his older brother Yazit, the former drummer of rock band Search who passed away in September.

Zahid is still reeling from the great loss. One could also tell that Zahid is still processing the fact that his brother is gone.

“…I still remember his jokes and all. I have to take things slowly. This too shall pass,” he said.

Ever since childhood and right till his final days, Zahid said the late Yazit had remained true to himself — the same old joker who was revered by his family and friends.

“He always likes to poke fun at things. He only slowed down when he fell ill. My brother was a nice guy and was so much fun to be with,” Zahid said.

The brothers had a tough life growing up. Yazit only managed to finish Form 3 as he had to drop out of school to help his family financially.

“Yazit is the eldest son in the family. There were 10 of us. Before him were three girls. I think he felt responsible for us and decided to find a job and help the family,” said Zahid.

It was the 70s and things were moving not as fast as today. The country was still growing and many Malaysians were trying to figure out their spot in the whole big scheme.

Yazit and Zahid found music as their saviour. It was their escapism from poverty.

“Me and Yazit, we really love music. That’s why we ended up playing the drums together,” Zahid said.

Zahid started playing the drums when he was 10 years old, while Yazit began at 15.

The brothers went for apprenticeship to learn how to play the drums.

“Yazit started playing first in a club. I always followed him. I was like his shadow. While he played, I’d hang out. Whenever he took a break, I’d replace him,” Zahid said.

One of Zahid’s fondest memories with his older brother was during one Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“We had long hair at that time because we were rockers, so there were a few guys trying to tackle us. But when we both turned around and faced them, the boys had a shock of their life. They thought we were girls!” Zahid said.

Of course, no siblings would be without any fight when they were younger.

“I think when I was younger, I did not really understand that he was trying to protect me. I thought he was trying to bully me…”

When the two left the comfort of their home in Johor Baru to chase their dreams in Kuala Lumpur (KL), the brotherly bond became even closer.

“As musicians, we had to work hard, so we did not have much time to spend together. “Whenever he had practice with Search or with Rampage, or when I had that extra free time, I would drop by to see him and we’d have teh tarik together,” he said.

The late Yazit (centre) performing on the street. Yazit and Zahid found music as their saviour. It was their escapism from poverty

Yazit — the Founder of Search

Any staunch fan of Search would tell you that there would be no Search if it was not for Yazit.

It started in Johor Baru, Johor, in 1981, when Yazit, along with bassist Memet, vocalist Zainal (who later formed another band Rampa) and guitarist Hilary Ang decided to solidify their union via a rock band they called Search.

The band’s mission and vision became clearer when Suhaimi Abdul Rahman or Amy completed the ensemble.

They started playing clubs and somehow garnered quite a following. In 1985, the band’s first album, Cinta Buatan Malaysia, was released and it managed to capture the imagination of many rock fans.

Several albums later, including “Langit dan Bumi”, “Mentari Merah di Ufuk Timur” and “Fenomena”, Search became quite a force to be reckoned with and somehow pioneered a market that was later joined by other rock bands and enthusiasts.

Like any other bands, the group also went through several changes in its line-up, but Yazit had remained loyal, until a disagreement in 2016 that could have broken his spirit.

Fans were shocked when he announced that he was no longer with the band that he started.

Search’s current line-up comprises vocalist Amy, bassist Nasir, and guitarists Hamzah Mohd Taib (Kid) and Noordin Mohd Taib (Din).

Earlier, some eleven years ago before Yazit left the group, the drummer also made headlines when he was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems which did not really improve and led to his demise a couple of months ago.

A day before his death, Yazit had to be rushed to the Hospital KL’s Urology and Nephrology ward during the wee hours of the morning due to breathing difficulties, and had to be connected to a life support system.

Yazit passed away at 11.53am on Sept 25 and his body was laid to rest at the Raudathul Sakinah Muslim Cemetery in Taman Selasih, Gombak.

Drummers with Different Beats

They may both be drummers, but Zahid’s choice of music is in a different lane. While Yazit had stuck to his roots by playing rock music with his band, Zahid is more of a secessionist who prefers to experiment with different genres.

Not many people knew though, that it was Zahid who first got into the recording studio after his band, Split Times, clinched a deal with a local label.

Split Times’ first album, “Degil”, included “Rintihan Semalam”, a song that was a moderate hit among music fans in the early 80s.

Split Times later moved to another label and recorded “Kesepian”, an album that featured Joey as the lead singer. Joey later fronted Bumiputra Rockers.

“I think the only difference between us is that I got more recording experience compared to him at a younger age. I had the opportunity to join a band.

“As a drummer, I just want to be creative and play what I want,” Zahid said.

Since Zahid is more adventurous than his brother, he gets to play with many different musicians and recorded at some of the best studios in the region as he progresses.

In fact, after Zahid left Split Times, he left Johor Baru and moved to KL in search of his true calling while honing his musicality.

Zahid’s career as a session drummer took a more aggressive turn when he became one of the regular musicians for famous names such as Datuk Sheila Majid, Datuk Zainal Abidin and Datuk Sharifah Aini.

“They are such great talents and I’m so fortunate to have the chance to work with them. Working with Roslan Aziz, one of the best producers in the country, is just another opportunity that I could not resist. I’m very fortunate.”

Zahid co-produced most of Zainal Abidin’s and Sheila Majid’s albums, even though his name is not credited.

“Roslan knows that I work with them 24/7. We worked very hard to accomplish all the ideas and the concept, so I learned a lot from there, and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity,” Zahid added.

Even though their careers went different directions, the brothers had some moments on stage together.

Interestingly, Zahid and Yazit had a reunion of sorts with Zainal Abidin when the latter’s new band, Rampa, had a live show in Life Centre, KL.

During the show with Rampa, Yazit was on percussion, while Zahid played the drums. They also collaborated in some recordings.

“In my solo debut album, we played together in this song called “Kau”. Then, we did one showcase somewhere in Taman Melawati, where both of us played the drums,” Zahid said.

Me and Yazit, we really love music. That’s why we ended up playing the drums together, says Zahid (left) (Pic by Razak Ghazali)

Dedicated to Teaching

Zahid’s career as a drummer has also come full circle. He is now happy to share his knowledge on the music industry to aspiring young musicians.

“I teach at five local universities and one private institution, which is the International College of Music,” he said.

Among the institutions which have engaged Zahid’s expertise are Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan or known as Aswara, Universiti Malaya, UCSI University and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, as well as Universiti Teknologi Mara.

Zahid said while the students absorbed what he had to offer, he also learned a lot just from teaching.

“It helps me a lot to be what I am today — along with the experience I gained from the time I spend with the students and young musicians,” he said.

A Tribute to Yazit

As a tribute to his brother, Zahid is organising a concert that would feature talents that had worked with Yazit.

The showcase, named “11 Hours Live and Loud Sang Gendang Dalam Kenangan” would also feature Zahid’s former students.

The concert will be held from 8pm to 12am on Dec 6, and the musical journey is expected to continue from 3pm to 12am on Dec 7.

“I want to do something good for him. That’s why I tried to arrange for this concert… To say goodbye to him,” he said.

“11 Hours Live and Loud Sang Gendang Dalam Kenangan” will be held at Panggung Anniversari KL.

It is organised by Zahid Ahmad Production Project Studio in collaboration with Sound Out Loud, the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports of the KL City Hall.

The concert will feature popular artists such as Dayangku Intan, Datuk Naser Abu Kassim, Datuk Hattan and the band Hujan.

“11 Hours Live and Loud Sang Gendang Dalam Kenangan” does not use any ticketing system. However, those who are interested to attend can donate an amount of RM40, RM60 or RM80 per day to www.ticketapps.com.my.