Father of Indian rock’ Amit Saigal dies at 47

Amit Saigal, the man credited with bringing Indian underground music to the fore in the early 1990s and founding one of the most popular Indian music magazines (Rock Street Journal), passed away in Goa on Thursday afternoon.

Saigal was swimming with his friends near their anchored sail boat off Bogmalo beach in Goa around 1 pm, when he drowned — probably after an asthma attack. He was declared dead while being taken to a hospital.

Fondly called the 'Papa of Rock', Saigal (47) started the indie music revolution in 1993 when he printed 2,500 copies of RSJ from his hometown, Allahabad. Over a short period of time, the magazine gained a huge fan following and was published in larger numbers from Delhi. Few know that Saigal was also part of a rock band called Impact in the late 1980s with Sam Eric Lal, one of the co-founders of RSJ.

"I am shocked to hear the news. He lived life to the hilt and is definitely the founder of Indian rock and roll," says Lal, whose association with RSJ ended in 2006.

Before the Internet boom hit India, RSJ was the most well-known and one of the very few magazines in the country that promoted indie bands, published interviews, gave out free posters of international artistes, and became a part of the musical revolution of an entire generation.

"I picked up my first RSJ even before I began playing in a band. He is the reason a number of bands made it big — we got our first international gig last year in Norway because of him. In a way, we all feel orphaned with his demise," says Vinay Venkatesh, member of Mumbai-based metal band, Bhayanak Maut.

Not only did Saigal turn around the indie music scene with RSJ, he was also responsible for launching cult music events such as Great Indian Rock (GIR), Pubrockfest, Jazz Utsav and India Music Week. "He was a very far-sighted man. It was because of him that Parikrama recorded their first-ever original. He was responsible for a lot of music enthusiasts even starting a band in the first place. This is very sad news," says Subir Malik, founder of Delhi-based band, Parikrama.

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