2021 Sep 6
Monday, the 6th of September, 2021, marked the day the world lost Sunil Perera – the leader of the ensemble The Gypsies, a legend and a veteran in the local music industry, and an adored figure among Sri Lankans around the globe. He sadly passed away at the age of 68, due to COVID-19 related complications.
Ivor Sylvester Sunil Perera, popularly known as Sunil Perera, was regarded as one of the virtuosi of Sri Lanka’s baila genre. He was a spirited personality and a gifted vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and composer. He didn’t use his gift for the mere sake of popularity, but to give a meaningful message to the world.
Through his humble character, brilliant lyrics and appealing melodies, Sunil Perera was able to move the hearts and minds of his audience. He valued unity and harmony among people regardless of race, religion and social ties – and his music bonded people. That is the foremost reason he would always be remembered and loved by all Sri Lankans.
Born on the 14th of September, 1952, he was one of 10 children. He started to play the guitar at the age of 11. In 1969, as soon as he left school, he joined ‘The Gypsies’, created by his father, Anton Perera, and his brothers – Nihal, Lal, Nimal and Piyal. The late Sunil Perera was the main vocalist of the band along with his brother Piyal Perera. Following many massively successful albums and concerts in Sri Lanka and abroad, The Gypsies celebrated the Golden Jubilee in 2021, by arranging a show via virtual platforms.
When asked how he would define himself, Sunil Perera once said in an interview, “today, I believe that love and the spiritual aspect of life are the ultimate things that would bring results. Whether as a country or as individuals, nothing could be achieved through hatred, but only through love. Whatever the circumstances maybe, eventually, it is the love factor. The bond of love is the only way to win anything. Of course, it may take years for world leaders to come together and understand ‘love all beings’. But as one of the famous songs goes, love will eventually win.”
The President expressed his condolences, stating that “it is a great loss for Sri Lanka’s entertainment scene”. The Prime Minister also commented that the entertainment industry would never be the same. “My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the legendary entertainer, Sunil Perera. You will be forever remembered through your music,” the Prime Minister stated.
The pandemic has taken away valuable lives from all of us. Why? Let us all learn the lesson that no one is free from the clutches of death. “Life, without stopping a moment, ever keen on moving, runs on towards death, like the sun that travels to set without stopping after it rises,” the Buddha has said.
We thank the late Sunil Perera for his outstanding work and abounding compassion. May we all rejoice in the good work he has done and understand his message of love and unity. May he rest in peace, or rather, may he rest in power!