Cui Jian: Still Rocking

Cui Jian began his music career playing trumpet for the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 80s. He is now lauded as the father of Chinese rock music. Earlier this week, fans gathered in Beijing for a special preview of a 3D film entitled “Transcendence” (超越那一天), to be released later this summer. The May 9th screening honored the anniversary of the 1986 performance of his song ”Nothing to My Name” (一无所有) that catapulted him to stardom. The song would become the unofficial anthem of youth activism during the Tiananmen protests. For CNN, Jamie FlorCruz reports on the scene in Beijing:

“The essence of rock n’ roll is energy and personality,” he told his fans who gathered in Beijing this week to commemorate his breakout performance.

“The burst of energy in the artistic creation comes from the suppression of personality.”

[...]Organizers gave each guest a piece of red cloth. Some tied it on their arms, others on their foreheads — a nod to the red blindfold Cui often wore when he sang his politically-charged love song, “A Piece of Red Cloth.”

His supporters were left heady with nostalgia.

“That time, we really had nothing,” recalled Bai Qiang, producer of the 70-minute video. “We had no fridge, no camera, no cell phone, nothing. But we were full of spirit. Today, we are much better off but we feel have lost something. Something is still missing.”[...]

Also see Asia Society’s recent interview with Jonathan Campbell, which traces the rise of rock music in China from Cui Jian and into the future.

May 11, 2012 10:46 PM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts