The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

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The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

Post#1 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:26 pm

Something that I am keep writing .... maybe soon a next chapter with the "proper" metal scene of the early 90's (ready buy need to fix it with images and corrections):


It was 2004 when I made my first, real long trip outside the usual touristic places of Europe: as my brother was working in Bangkok for almost one year already, I decided it was time to go to meet him becaue I was really missing him.
As I was going to Asia for the first time in my life, I decided to pass from China first, somewhere in the middle of nothing, in Hebei province in a place that I didn't know exactly where it was, far from everything anyway, where there was a pretty online friend who I was chatting with for some time. Countryside of China and Bangkok, Thailand: it sounded good as my first trip outside Europe.
And so it was....I discovered Asia and it's diversity, its cultural and ethnic differences, the megalopolis like Shangai and Bangkok and the miserable, poor, third world face of the countryside in China and the many faces of Thailand. Since then I spent the last 15 years of my life in travelling all around Asia, going back several times to China, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the whole South East and I also worked as teacher in China in the most wonderful two years of my life and having lived for months and months in the most unusual places of this continent: from whole winters in Mongolia to the endless hot months in Kuala Lumpur or Kathmandu or wherever else I could stay for a cheap price and for long time.

As my brother moved to mainland China just a few days before the big Tsunsmi who stroke the south east during Christmas 2004, I decided to visit him again and I sticked more than 2 months in his house in Beijing before I was kicked out the country because I largely overstayed my tourist visa. At that time he was working as a teacher at some university in Beijing and he started to work with a local Beijing-based music label, Areadeath with the project to reissue some old international bands from the past. It was his dream and it was my dream too. I was envying him a lot as he got everything that I was dreaming too. And I was feeling really alive and free when I was in China, in Asia, in a place 12.000 km far from home and dealing with music, young people like me and concerts, shops, a new culture and a new life.

So, since then I started to know more and more about the "Asian Metal Scene" and, with the years, I discovered that it was almost quite totally ignored and unknown in the western world. Except for a few bands, everything else was almost completely ignored: history, beginning, evolution, old and new bands, information, labels, formats, reissues.....what did we know about Chinese metal (and asian metal in general, except for the japanese scene) at the time? Very little. I wanted to know more and spread my knowledge to others so that the whole world may knew a little bit more.

With the time, passing the years, I started to discover new places such as Nepal, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and I sticked to Malaysia and Indonesia and Thailand mostly, where I usually go every year for months to spend the few money I can get from my summertime job in Italy: as I was feeling like a beggar in Italy, I could afford several months of stay in such countries and - at the same time - I could find more and more information about unknown old and new bands, local reissues, local labels and trade/buy&sell some local stuff to make such bands and albums available to a wider audience and to make money enough to stay there a few weeks more. I liked it and I still like it, even because the knowledge of the local scenes of most of asian countries is still very far to be considered completed or satisfactory. Still some scenes are quite mysterious or - where there are enough information or acceptable articles and stories to tell, there is a dramatic lack of material to be found: the recordings, the tapes or the vinyls/cds of such aforementioned bands were - and still are - the hardest obstacle to overcome.

Let's make an example: there are hundred and hundred of websites and articles (online and on printed paper) about the origins, beginning and developping of a hard rock/heavy metal scene in Hong Kong, with lot of names of totally and virtually unknown bands, with biographies, reproduction of old articles, even detailed guidelines of concerts, gigs and big festivals....but until now a good 90% of these bands could be found nowhere: no recordings surfaced, no reissues are made and even the original records like vinyls or cds are nearly impossible to find.

Hong Kong is a case of a local scene rich of history which is until today totally unknown just because of a huge unavailability of audio and video material. While other scenes like the mainland China itself or Malaysia, Thailand are more and more well documented and "fixed" due to the much higher availability of audio/video sources, reissues (a trend that is taking big space in Thailand and Malaysia or Indonesia in the last 3-4 years), websites where good souled people share their rips or even high quality scans of covers and's easy to trace down an almost complete overview of what was and what is the local music scene in some countries, like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, as I said.

For other countries like Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos it's still almost impossible and even frustrating: even where there are several in-deep articles (like in Hong Kong) there is a very scarce availability of audio and video material, both original or ripped for the web, while in other countries with a long rock history like Vietnam or Laos not only there is an almost to zero knowldge or sharing of information but even the method of sharing the few available materials by the few good willing people has such a outdated tecnique which frustrates every attempt to collect, organize, document and try to fix down on paper an acceptable chronology and history of local music scenes without risking to forget dozen and dozen of bands or be forced to write a frustrating "information unknwon" under too many band's biographies or discographies.

Luckily, China for a brief but remarkable time has made a big effort to make its own "rock history" available: thanks to the big boom of the local heavy metal scene in the early 2000's, when a lot of new labels came out (Areadeath, Mort Production and later Polywater, Stress Hormones and many others) plus a consistant "invasion" of foreigners which (also) brought some research tecniques to the local scenes - not that local chinese fans were unaware, but for sure sharing research methods and cataloguing/writing methods had dramatically improved during those years - showed interest in the history of local rock history and helped locals to witness and in some cases even promote both old and new bands: I can assume that now, collecting information here and there, from local and foreigner sources, the history of rock music in China is almost totally recorded, almost fully documented, and - most important - almost fully available for potential listeners, thanks to reissues, a pretty good availability of old and original materials and numerous local fans who continuously upload and make available otherwise hard to find releases with detailed notes, useful information and a vast offer of visual material.

Of course, we should not forget that the main barrier when to start historical researches in Asian countries is the language: thai, japanese, korean being written in an alphabet which need first of all to be transcripted into latin languages, may bring with themselves problems linked with the different transcription system: so it's frequent that a research can be frustrated by the different ways a band name or an artist name can be trascrtipted or translated into latin alphabet.

With China, the problem become more dramatic as it is known that both the simplified and the traditional chinese ideograms (or, better, "pictograms") are still in use and everytime we came across some information, some album title, some band or artist name we first of all have to understand whether it is written in simplified chinese (which is mainly used in the mandarin-speaking area of the centre, north, north east and western provinces) or in the traditional chinese (which is mainly used in the cantonese speaking provinces, the whole soth influenced by cantonese language, Taiwan, Hong Kong and all the chinese immigrant comunities scattered all over the south-east of Asia). So most of times it's not infrequent to make a research and come across a band name never heard before, which may "look" or "sound" similar to some other band already known and find after a while that it's a band already well known but written with the traditional chinese pictograms rather than the simplified chinese: and you realize that the website you were reading on is a Shangai-based oir a Hong-Kong based one rather than a Beijing-based one...

Therefore some website may be written also in local other languages (as in China there are dozens and dozens of official languages and dialects beside the Putonghua, "the common language" or the Cantonese) so it even add more difficulties in translations as well as transcriptions of sources....

But I can say that luckily, despite all these language barriers and regional distinctions, a quite deep, well organized history of rock music in China can be done now with a pretentious aim to list almost all (if not "all") the earliest hard rock/heavy metal bands who were operating in China up to the late 90's

The research just stop at the late 90's because at the turn of the old millennium, the scene definitively exploded both locally and internationally with a flourishing of new metal bands, old bands reuniting or keep playing, new labels, new shops, concerts and a huge exposition to the outside world that has never been so wide for the whole decade of the 90's.

While the most active years, the years of the true worldwide explosion of chinese metal can be traced around 2000-2008, having after the Olympic Games definitively launched China in the worldiwde metal scene, it was in the very late 80's and early 90's that the hard rock/metal scene born and developped with a number of band who can be considered "few" compared to the whole population of the country, but incredibly high if we consider the peculiar political and social condition of the country at that time and not only back then.

So, I will just end my overview of the beginning of the rock music scene in mainland China at the second half of the 90's, just focusing on the early steps, the forefathers of hard rock music and the early music production including the (not so many) albums produced in the early years, the countless compilation which were basically the main vehicle for rock music to be spreaded all around the area and the first established music labels and their peculiar origins.

Of course this article is (hopefully not too much) far to be complete and exhaustive as - expecially for local compilation with some possible one-shot metal band on it - can always pop out here and there or some unknown demo could exist or have been recorded somewhere in the deep north or the deep western provinces but, I can assume that up to now and up to what we know now in 2019, I claim to have listed all the bands which can be included in that vast category of hard rock (Scorpion-wise or harder, being the minimum term for me to consider a band as "hard rock" and not simply "rock") to heavy metal and up to the most extreme forms of metal, from the very beginning to the latest years of the past millennium.

The next chapters will be dedicated to the other scenes like Hong Kong (incuding Macau) and Taiwan being such places distinguished and separated entities from the mainland China.

Every additional information is of course very well welcome. I will not add particular reviews or personal opinions about this or that band, this or that album as my aim is mainly to document a chronology and a discography of what has been done and what is known, leaving to other who can write better than me and express better feelings and ideas the freedom to review and comment each single release or band.

Of course, as every attempt to make a research of the beginning of hard rock music in a specific country, we have to make a few steps back to the forefathers and precursors of rock music in such a country: a bit boring maybe, but most of times the way a music scene borns in a specific country is leaving a big and discernable mark on the production for the years to follow.

Before starting the reading I would like to express eternal gratitude to the (sometimes anonymous or unknown) authors of articles and essays about the same topic: this material has been the main source for this long article and it was integrated with further additional information and detals from other sites like Wikipedia or the hundred, countless chinese sharing groups where it is possible to download samples, full albums and rare tapes otherwise nowadays hardly availabe through other sources: ... %E6%9D%BF/

Chapter 1 - Early Rock in China: from foreign-made early experiments to the Nortwest Wind style

The very late 70's and early 80's were very obviuosly very difficult for playing rock - or even "western influenced" music in China, even if widely tolerated for some years.
This emerging of rock music is a direct consequence of the "Open Door Policy" started in 1979 by Deng Xiaoping which slowly opened the country to an exposition to the outside world.

These reforms were like the open doors for new music genres. In the first middle of 1980s’ the dominating music genre came abroad to mainland China was Cantopop originated in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This music, known as Gangtaiyue typically had the following characteristics: smooth flowing melodies, usually without direct or obvious relationship with traditional Chinese melodic construction; a type of vocal production that was the "middle way" between Western full, ringing vocal style and the more nasal, pinched and higher pitched Chinese folksong style. But with the "open door policy" the first influences of western pop and rock music started to leak inside the country.

In the beginning there were only student-made bands playing cover of western rock and pop songs, as it was very difficult to get information about rock as well as instruments. Also, not so many people had a chance to listen to foreign music and meet with foreigners. As a rule, first protorockers were from Beijing, traditionally the capital town for every artistic movement in China, were students of big universities where exchanging with students came to study or students of music or art colleges.

It is then quite obvious that most of these prime examples of rock bands have seen foreigner university students involved.
The birthplace was Beijing: as the nation's capital, the music was highly politicised and open to a range of foreign influences despite the activities were marginal in the early years, consisting of live performances in small bars and hotels and it was almost exclusively for the domain of university students and "underground" bohemian circles.

The first and well known, successful band was the Peking All-Stars, a rock band formed in Beijing in 1979 by a number of foreigners then resident in the Chinese capital, the same year as the first Chinese rock band made by chinese players only, Wang Li Ma Wang (王里马王) was formed.


(Peking All Stars live in March 1981)

The band was formed by Graham Earnshaw, on guitar and vocals, Chris, a Brazilian drummer, and Richard Thwaites, an Australian bass player who doubled as the China correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Other later members were Guitarist Michael Schoenhals, later to leverage his collection of Chairman Mao buttons into a position as Scandinavian expert on China's Cultural Revolution, Palestinian lead guitarist Nassir, who took a sabbatical from the band in mid-1983 to drive tanks against Israel in southern Lebanon, and committed suicide in around 1991; american guitarist Tad Stoner, who later became a journalist and bar owner in Hong Kong and is now a journalist in the Cayman Islands; american bass player Fred Burke, who went on to become a prominent corporate lawyer in Vietnam, the american guitarist Larry Vest, the swedish sax player Frédéric Cho of chinese origins who went on to become one of Scandinavia's top China financial experts and Asian Manager at HQ Bank and lastly the Madagascan drummer Robinson, who went on to found his own band named Nogabe that is currently based in London.

They played one of the first rock concerts in China at an university campus hall in Beijing in late summer of 1979. Their performance at Beijing's Teacher's College in 1981 was commemorated by a photograph in the book "China After Mao" by Liu Heung Shing.

The band played a number of performances at the Friendship Hotel, the Jianguo Hotel, the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and at embassies, but restrictions on cultural activities resulting from the so-called Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign in 1983-1984 made it difficult for the band to find opportunities to gig.

Earnshaw, who owned the bands gear, eventually passed on the drums and amplifiers to a Madagascan band that was starting up in 1984, while his Fender Telecaster went on long-term loan to the Madagascan guitarist Eddie Randiamampionona, who later will become one of the very key people who will contribute to the rising of rock culture in China and later the lead guitarist of the successful singer Cui Jian in his many projects, from the seminal band ADO to the following Cui Jian's solo albums

Wan Li Ma Wang (王里马王 or 萬李馬王 / 萬里馬王 / 万李马王) was a Chinese rock group formed in 1979, which is known to be possibly the oldest rock band made by chinese musicians solely. It is considered one of the very first expression of Yaogunye (Chinese rock’n’roll) togeter with a lot of other very small bands playing covers of western rock songs mainly inside university recreatve halls and sometimes in embassies or hotel and bars for foreigners

The band was set up by four university students from Beijing, Wan Xing, Li Shichao, Ma Xiaoyi and Wang Xinbo (o Tingbo). The group name was a derivative of the combination of the group members' surnames and they lasted from 1979 to 1983

Wan Li Ma Wang

The band was formed in the Beijing Second Foreign Language Institute and made their sensational debut to the public in the winter of 1979, when the four performed at a university joint show. They covered songs of the Beatles, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones and the like, which was a stark contrast to other students' performances — usually recitations or choruses in English.
Although the band played mainly covers of other bands, it was still a huge novelty to China during the late 1970s
Its debut was reported by CRI and the group subsequently held live concerts in other Beijing-based Chinese universities.
However, it was not long before the band was eventually dissolved, in 1983 when the four members graduated from the University and went for life trajectories other than rock stars.
Wang Xinbo later became one of the very first successful producers for the earliest hard rock metal bands in China such as for Cui Jian and Black Panther / Hei Bao / 黑豹 and assembled the seminal compilation tape "Rock Beijing / 摇滚北京" in 1993 (we will talk about it in the third chapter).
The band seems to have left no trace of recorded album even if it is reported by many sources that some songs were often broadcasted at the People's Broadcasting Radio Station.

Another early first foreigner-established rock bands was "Continent / 大陆乐队" (sometimes playing also under the name "Beijing Underground") formed in 1983 which had some good success back at the time and played over 200 concerts during their 3 years of existence.

Continent / 大陆乐队

The guitarist and founded of the band was Eddie Randiamampionona, a guitar player also from Madagascar and employee in the embassy in Beijing who later would play a key role for the growing of rock music in China. Other members were David Hoffman, Paul Sifi, Ivan, Hedgard (all international university students whose family names seem buried in the sands of time) and Nassir coming from his previous project Peking All Stars.

Continent / 大陆乐队

The band lasted for 3 years and they were able to release two albums on tape: "Dance on the Street / 街上的舞蹈" in 1985 and "Sister of Heaven / 天上的妹妹" the same year.


Dance on the Street / 街上的舞蹈 (1985)


Sister of Heaven / 天上的妹妹 (1985)

Eddie Randiamampionona would become a few years later the lead guitarist with the so-called godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian.

Late 70's to mid 80's were also seeing a gradual flourishing for new chinese Yaogunye (rock’n’roll) bands and releases, finally made by chinese artists only:

Aris / 秦奇 (1981) was a band formed by Wang Yong (王勇), Qin Qi (秦奇) and Li Li (李力) among others. It is said that they mainly covered japanese rock and pop songs


Aris / 秦奇

I don't know any recording by Aris but the guitarist Qin Qi (秦奇) later released two solo albums: "This Song / 这首歌" in 1986 with a marked hard rock attitude and sound (see below) and the following "旅日红歌星" in 1988 and at the same time he joined Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队 with the singer Ding Wu (丁武) (who was coming from a previous group, Locust Band / 蝮虫乐队, see below) and released the tape "Rock Stage / 摇滚舞台" in 1986 (see below)

Wang Di (王迪) and the singer Ding Wu (丁武) formed Locust Band / 蝮虫乐队 (sometimes credited as Fu Ban / 蝜蝂乐队) in 1982 but I am not aware of any recording too. This band is anyway important in the developping of rock culture in China as the singer Ding Wu (丁武) after having a short time in the Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队 (see below) with the guitarist Qin Qi (秦奇), then will rise to fame a few years later when he will first found Hei Bao / Black Panther / 黑豹乐队 and the following year Tang Dynasty / 唐朝乐队


Locust Band / 蝮虫乐队 aka Fu Ban / 蝜蝂乐队

while Sun Guoqing (孙国庆) from Henan released "Breeze / 微风" in 1984, one of the earliest examples of pop/folk/rock songs made in China by chinese artists only, followed two years later by "The stray singer / 流浪歌手" and later shifting towards other experimental music styles.


Sun Guoqing (孙国庆): Breeze / 微风 (1984)


Sun Guoqing (孙国庆): The stray singer / 流浪歌手 (1986)

Ignorant Band / Meng Dong Rock And Roll Band / 朦懂乐队 is a typical Yaogunye (rock’n’roll) band formed by Zhou Wei (周伟) around 1987 and they released the "Awkward Rock / 朦懂摇滚" tape in 1989. It is said that the lyrics deal with views of society, life and other issues but I believe that it is quite a polished and government-authorized approach. In the line-up - just for the records - there is one of the last foreigners playing in a chinese "rock" band, the german bass player Beth Martin.


Ignorant Band / Meng Dong Rock And Roll Band / 朦懂乐队: Awkward Rock / 朦懂摇滚 (1989)

In 1985 Hou Sheren (侯牧人) released the tape "I wish you success / 祝你成功" with the accompaining band "Male Quartet / 男声四重唱" but it's quite unoffensive pop with some reminescences of slow rock


Hou Sheren (侯牧人) and Male Quartet / 男声四重唱: I wish you success / 祝你成功 (1985)

while in 1992, influenced by the success of political singers like Cui Jian he made quite a shocking and controverial tape album called "I love you China / 我爱你中国" but this time totally siding with the government and with abundand doses of patriotism and nationalism served in a not even bad rock sauce: only for maoists or nationalists.


Hou Sheren (侯牧人): I love you China / 我爱你中国 (1992)

Beside the Yaogunye (rock’n’roll) music, around 1985 a huge bunch of supposed "guitar heroes" in China started to appear. The list is quite long and uninteresting as most of times it's just a matter of image only, with an electric guitar here and there and some "outrageous" (for the time) outfits just to shock the public. So let's limit this part of the article to the most interesting examples only:

Possibly the very first artist to use electric guitar as main instrument was the Tianjin-based Wang Genlin (王根林) who released a couple of tapes in the mid 80's ("Coffee tears / 咖啡眼泪" in 1985 and "Bitter Coffee / 苦咖啡") where the use of electic guitar was predominant. It is said that his example opened the way to many other guitar heroes all around the country.


Wang Genlin (王根林): Coffee tears / 咖啡眼泪 (1985)


Wang Genlin (王根林): Bitter Coffee / 苦咖啡 (1986)

Wang He (王合) also from the northern area of Tianjin is pretty a strange case of "modern rocker" who preferred to show his skill with drums rather than guitar. Deeply influenced by the japanese Godiego band, he had the big chance to play drums with the japanese band at the concert for the second anniversay of the Chinese-Japanese Friendship Peace Treaty. A picture of his performance would later be used for his first tape released in 1985: "Wang He Male Solo / 王合男声独唱" and his career continued with a second tape in 1987, "Don't Cry Girl / 姑娘别哭泣"


Wang He (王合): Wang He Male Solo / 王合男声独唱 (1985)


Wang He (王合): Don't Cry Girl / 姑娘别哭泣 (1987)

A disciple of Wang He was undoubtely the drummer Zhao Muyang (赵牧阳) also from Tianjin: he is also known as the "Drum King" and he was involved in a lot of rock projects since the late 80's
He started in 1987 with the proto-alternative-punk band "Baby Brothers Band / 宝贝兄弟乐队" featuring also the future Tang Dynasty's bass player Gu Zhong / 顾忠 and they will later play at the famous "90's Modern Concert / 90现代音乐会" along with Tang Dynasty / 唐朝乐队, ADO / ADO乐队, Cobra / 眼镜蛇女子乐队, 1989 / 1989乐队 and Breathing / 呼吸乐队, the first hard rock/metal big gig held in China. "Baby Brothers Band / 宝贝兄弟乐队" will later release one album but I couldn't find any information: it is said it was released overseas.

The next step is to replace Liu Xiaosong (刘效松) in 1990 in the band The Breathing / 呼吸乐队 and with the new drummer they will finish the recordings of their only self-titled album (also known as "太阳升 / Sunrise") which started in november 1989. Please read the dedicated biography about The Breathing in another section of the forum: I will talk again about them on Chapter 3 when I will discuss the proper hard rock/metal bands born at the end of the 80's.

Then it was time for a solo project with his band Sheperd / 牧羊 which released the tape album "Wandering / 流浪" in 1991:


Zhao Muyang (赵牧阳) and Sheperd / 牧羊: Wandering / 流浪 (1991)

At the end of 1991, after having left The Breathing / 呼吸乐队 he will form the first thrash metal band from China, the successful Overload / 超载 which will be one of the historical and leading names of the heavy metal scene in the country so far. The debut is at the Beijing International Hotel on October 31st, 1991 followed by another concert in December with Tang Dynasty and Black Panthers / Hei Bao in Taiyuan (Shanxi Province). They will record two songs in 1992: "Looking Down the World / 低下头是人间" who will appear on the seminal "China Rock 中國 搖滾" Compilation Tape 1993 and their best known hit "祖先的阴影-超载乐队 / The Shades Of Ancestors" which will appear also in 1993 on the fundamental "摇滚北京 / Rock Beijing" Compilation Tape. Since then, a lot of recordings for local compilations from 1994 onward will appear, until the release of debut album in 1996. But this is another story and we will see it in the chapter 3.

But the activty if the drummer is relentless and in 1992 he will join the famous singer Dou Wei (窦唯) (ex Hei Bao / Black Panther / 黑豹乐队 and Tang Dynasty / 唐朝乐队 and now went to a successful pop-folk solo career) for the recording of the album "Black Dream / 黑梦" and later the same year appearing in the first "China Fire / 中国火 " (1992) where he offered his drumming skill with the important alternative band "The Face / 面孔楽隊", with pop-folk singer Zhang Chu / 张楚 and recorded the only song of Red Army / 紅色部隊 (possibly the very first proper punk band from China, active in 1991-1992) known, "Being Tired / 累".

Let's just not forget, among all the following project, that in 1994 he joined the chinese-mongolian folk singer Tengger (腾格尔) in his new folk-rock band Tengger and The Wolf / 腾格尔 与 苍狼乐队, formed in 1993, possibly the very first chinese of mongolian origins who tried to combine traditional folk music with rock and progressive sounds. They will release

A very important artist yet still not too much recognized outside China for the developing of electric guitar-based music in the country was Zhang Yong (张勇) who released one of the very first guitar solo albums in 1986 called "Guitar World / 吉他世界" which got a huge success at the time.


Zhang Yong (张勇): Guitar World / 吉他世界 (1986)

He also played guitar in another important project called "Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队" who released, still in 1986 a tape album called "Rock Stage / 摇滚舞台" and then joined Cui Jian in the supporting band ADO (together with Eddie Randiamampionona) to record the seminal album "Rock and Roll on the New Long March / 新长征路上的摇滚" in 1989. In "Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队" were also playing Qin Qi (秦奇) (coming from one of the earliest, yet mysterious rock bands made by chinese artists only: Aris / 秦奇) and, expecially the singer Ding Wu (丁武) who will shortly form Hei Bao / Black Panther / 黑豹乐队 in 1987 and Tang Dynasty / 唐朝乐队 in 1988.

"Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队" may have not been the most influential rock band during these formative years but definitively it was a meeting point for artists who later would move to the biggest names in the chinese rock history.


Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队: Rock Stage / 摇滚舞台 (1986)


Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队: Congratulations / 恭喜発財 (unknown bootleg, 1986)

In Tumbler Band / 不倒翁乐队 there was also another important guitarist, Qin Qi (秦奇) who released the "This Song / 这首歌" tape in 1986 and the Red Star / 旅日红歌星 tape in 1988: he was one of the very first guitar players who clearly looked and dressed in a modern and proper hard rock/metal style and the music is not bad at all, harder than the average of many other supposed "guitar heroes". He was involved in some of the earliest "rock" projects in China such as Aris / 秦奇 (1981, see above) and, expecially he joined Tang Dynasty in the early steps of the band in 1988. He is a key figure for the developping of hard rock sounds and imagery in China.


Qin Qi (秦奇): This Song / 这首歌 (1986)


Qin Qi (秦奇): Red Star / 旅日红歌星 (1988)

Beside Zhang Yong and Qin Qi with their Tumbler Band and respective solo projects, another important and yet underrated band for the history of rock music in China was White Angel Band / 白天使乐队 which began in 1987 with Cheng Jin, Liu Yijun (Lao Wu), Liu Junli, Feng Mantian, Qi Tianyi, Wang Di and others. They managed to release one tape in 1989, "Escape from Loving / 爱的挣脱" which got a very limited distribution and it's really hard to find in its original first press. Their second tape album, released under the new band's name "Breakthrough (突破") was "World of Rock'n'Roll / 世界摇滚金曲" released in 1992 and reissued in 1995.


White Angel Band / 白天使乐队: Escape from Loving / 爱的挣脱 (1989)


Breakthrough (突破): World of Rock'n'Roll / 世界摇滚金曲 (1992)

White Angel Band's guitarist Feng Mantian (冯满天) also released a solo tape album, "1981" released in 1985. Nothing special, just for history records.


Feng Mantian (冯满天): 1981 (1985)

Liu Lin (刘麟) is considered the first "guitar hero" of China having released two tapes in 1985: "Saba Queen / 萨巴女王" and "Looking for a partner tonight / 今晚自找舞伴". I haven't listened to both albums but there is a supposedly western bassist on the front cover of the second tape who looks promisingly rock enough even if in the various websites I can't find any information about a possible "waiguoren" in the line up!
Anyway, looking at the images it seems everything but rock!


Liu Lin (刘麟): Saba Queen / 萨巴女王 (1985)


Liu Lin (刘麟): Looking for a partner tonight / 今晚自找舞伴 (1985)

Chang Kuan (常宽) was a very lame guitar player who made several tape albums between 1984 and 1990. Absolutely nothing special and he shouldn't even deserve to appear in this article if not because of one tape only, recorded in 1987 after (and before) a serie of other lame pop/romantic soft rock with some "heavier" (...) moments, but still considered as one of the pioneers of predominance of electric guitar over vocals during the explosion of chinese rock in the 80's.
His works include "Going to Life / 走向生活" (1984), "Running Towards the Embrace of Love / 奔向爱的怀抱" (1986), "Gao Cangjian Walks Away / 高仓健 快走开" (1987), "Wild Blast / 野性的疾风" (1987, which is the most "hard sounding" release and the only release who deserves a listen), "One-Year old Monologue / 廿岁的独白" (1988, a very boring soft pop rock album with his new band Baby Brother / 宝贝兄弟) and "Reschedule Now / 重新计划现在" tape in 1990, another quite useless release.


Chang Kuan (常宽): Going to Life / 走向生活 (1984)


Chang Kuan (常宽): Running Towards the Embrace of Love / 奔向爱的怀抱 (1986)


Chang Kuan (常宽): Gao Cangjian Walks Away / 高仓健 快走开 (1987)


Chang Kuan (常宽): Wild Blast / 野性的疾风 (1987)


Chang Kuan (常宽) and Baby Brother (宝贝兄弟): One-Year old Monologue / 廿岁的独白 (1988)


Chang Kuan (常宽) and Baby Brother (宝贝兄弟): Reschedule Now / 重新计划现在 (1990)

Other apparently rock solo guitarists appeared such as Li Jie (李杰) who, in 1986 released two tapes : "You and Me / 你和我" and "Last Night / 昨夜" where the drawing of a nice electric guitar with flashes and thunders appear on the cover but that's it


Li Jie (李杰): You and Me / 你和我 (1986)


Li Jie (李杰): Last Night / 昨夜 (1986)

or the likes of Lao Zi (捞仔) another "guitar hero" who published in 1991 his tape album "Thinking of You / 想念你" with the siding band "New Air Band / 新空气乐队" and the "A sister drum / 阿姐鼓" CD in 1994 which was said to sold in over 65 countries in the world....


Lao Zi (捞仔) and New Air Band / 新空气乐队: Thinking of You / 想念你 (1991)


Lao Zi (捞仔): A sister drum / 阿姐鼓 (1994)

but the time of soft rock guitar heroes was soon coming to an end, as since 1987 there was the founding of Hei Bao / Black Panther / 黑豹乐队 and the following year of Tang Dynasty / 唐朝乐队 and Breathing / Huxi / 呼吸 while Cui Jian and his polemic, critical view on chinese society paved the path for a more sociologial and activist way of rock made in China. 1987-1988 saw the big changing and the final step and evolution to the beginning of a proper, self-awared, hard rock scene.

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Re: The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

Post#2 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:32 pm

I quite like Cobra, a 90s all-girl band, formed in 1989.

They apparently also played some shows in the US. Broke up in the late 90s.

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Re: The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

Post#3 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:01 am

yes. there are two or three different cd version, all quite difficult to find.

As soon as I feel better - I just came back now from the hospital after two days of sickness - I will update the article with the chapter dedicated to the 90's. Don't expect outstanding stuff.... beside the (more or less) already known band, the very few others are of really low quality and most of them can be barely defined hard rock.

as soon as i recover, i will try to post new chapters... i just need to fix them and edit them properly

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Re: The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

Post#4 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:54 am

jnfernal wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:01 am
As soon as I feel better - I just came back now from the hospital after two days of sickness
Wishing you a speedy recovery jnfernal.
I cannot, I shall not, I will not obey.
Avenger wrote : I'm not a copyright office nor a judicial entity.

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Re: The history of rock music in China - Part 1: the beginning

Post#5 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:40 pm

I have n't checked yet, but thumbs up for the gigantic effort you made!!
We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged...

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