By Theresa Ellsworth
This year, we said goodbye to both local and international celebrities, from comedians to renowned scientists. Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore looks back at some of those that Singaporeans will miss most.
1. Guitar legend strums his last
Guitar legend and frontman of homegrown band Tania, Zul Sutan (Zulkifli bin Sutan) was an icon in his own right. Since 1977, Zul kept crowds at bars like Pebbles, Anywhere Music Pub and Harry’s at Orchard Towers coming back for more. Despite his ill health, he continued playing gigs, and was honoured with an Artistic Excellence Award from the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore in September. He died following health complications early this month (Dec). He was 61. The band announced the news on Twitter, saying: “The lion sleeps tonight”. Tributes poured in from local musicians and entertainers, including local jazz icon Jeremy Monteiro, who said on Facebook: “a light has gone out in our music scene and there is no replacement in sight”.
2. Curtain call for Under One Roof funnyman
Malaysian actor and comedian Zainal Ariffin Abdul Hamid, better known as Zaibo, died of oesophageal cancer at age 62 this year. The death of the Under One Roof star, who played mee rebus seller Yusof in the 1990s sitcom, and whose co-star Vernetta Lopez remembers as the “most humble, funny and absolutely sweetest person ever”, prompted an outpouring of tributes on social media. Zaibo had taken his 2018 diagnosis in his stride, even after the cancer spread. He leaves behind his wife and nine stepchildren.
3. Goodnight, Chef
The death of chef, writer, and Emmy award-winning foodie Anthony Bourdain in June shocked fans and the foodie community. The 61-year-old star of Parts Unknown had taken his own life in a France hotel room. Over the years, Bourdain had been effusive about his love for both Singapore and hawker culture. He had travelled to Singapore in 2002 to promote his book, A Cook’s Tour, and it was love at first bite, sparking his writings on the need to save street food, and how one could derive “pure pleasure at around USD$2”. Singaporeans remembered him for it, and Makansutra’s K.F. Seetoh shared his thoughts on some of their most memorable meals. Others took to social media to thank him for “bringing hawker food to an international level”.
4. Farewell, Stephen Hawking
For his massive contributions to science, his intuition, and his sense of humour, Stephen Hawking’s death at age 76 sent a ripple across the globe. The death of the British theoretical physicist, best known for his work on cosmology, general relativity, and quantum gravity, especially in the area of black holes, even prompted Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to take to social media. PM Lee remembered Hawking as someone who “never lost hope or his sense of purpose” despite his paralysis.
5. Song ends for Xinyao singer
Pioneer Xinyao singer Dawn Gan, who entered the Xinyao scene in the early 1980s, lost her battle with cancer in September this year. Gan, 55, known for her soprano voice and bubbly personality, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in 2013, and with breast cancer the following year. Despite multiple surgeries, the songbird continued singing until 2017, appearing in the annual Xinyao Reunion Concert. Thousands attended a memorial concert on October 14 to pay tribute to her, remembering iconic numbers like Youth 123, Your Reflection and Water Tales.
6. A Superhero’s send-off
Stan Lee gave the world superheroes like Spider-man, Ironman and the Incredible Hulk. Many likened him to a superhero of the comic genre, and one who made a lasting impact. His death in November at the age of 95 sparked an outpouring of tributes from fans around the world, including many from Singapore’s creative community. Kinokuniya’s Kenny Chan credited him for bringing comics to the forefront as an art form, and filmmaker Eric Khoo, who got to meet the man himself, “was inspired by the way Lee championed the underdog.”