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Here is an interesting article featured in the Sunday Inquirer about the Philippine's Rock legend and his grandma.....

Hard Rock, Soft Spot

By: Eric S. Caruncho - Sunday inquirer Sept. 9,2001

THE OLD woman is toothless and bent double with age, and there is a milky white film over the irises of both eyes blinking in the pale afternoon light. But there is also a glint behind them as she talks about her favorite grand-son.

"Napakabait na bata 'yang si Joseph," she says in that low, quivering voice old people have. "Walang makapagsasabi na may sinalbahe si Joseph. May nabalitaan na ba kayo na may masamang record 'yan?"

She pauses, and the wrinkled mouth curves into the barest hint of a smile.

"'Yung ibang record niya...alam n'yo na kung ano 'yon," she says, running a finger under her nose. (No one can tell you that Joseph ever did anyone harm. Have you heard anything about him having a bad record? As for his other record...well, you know what that is.)

Born Concordia Go in 1912, the woman everybody calls "Lola" - sometimes "Lola Smith" - is now 89 and frail. A similar air of decrepitude and faded gentility hangs over the living room of her old house in Kamuning, bought, she says, for P600 before the war. What must have been the latest modern conveniences of 1951 lay gathering dust and cobwebs. But the memories remain fresh, specially the ones concerning her grandson, Pinoy rock pioneer Joey "Pepe" Smith.

"Ganyan lang si Joey nang namatay si Smithy," she says, holding her hand about three feet above the floor. A former US Navy pilot, Edgar William Smith succumbed to bone cancer, leaving Joey and younger brother Raymond in the care of their mother. Shortly after Joey's eighth birthday, his mother Conchita - Lola's only child - died suddenly of hepatitis, leaving both boys in Lola's care. They were sent for in Clark Air Base, and settled in Lola's house in Kamuning.

Early on, Joey showed an affinity for music, especially rhythms. Lola's coathangers would often disappear, turned into makeshift drumsticks with which the boy would practice drumming patterns on the sidewalk. Later on, when he was older, Joey would sneak over to the house of a friend who lived four blocks away. The friend owned a real drum kit which Joey would practice on.

"Naloko 'yan sa drums," recalls Lola. "Binabantayan ko sa pintuan ng eskuwela, baka pumuslit."

(He went ga-ga over drums. I would stand guard at the school gate in case he tried to skip classes.)

A disciplinarian of the old school, Lola believed in "spare the rod, spoil the child." She was especially on her guard against Joey falling into bad company.

"Nakabantay ako diyan," she remembers. "Sinusundan ko pa 'yan pag nababarkada dahil ang mga kaibigan niyan, nagnanakaw ng manok sa kapitbahay, papatayin, tapos kakainin!"

(I would watch out and follow him because some of his friends would steal chickens from the neighbors and eat them.)

Lola's weapon of choice was the rubber hose - common in most households when kerosene was the cooking fuel of choice - with which she would whack Joey mercilessly whenever she caught him running with shiftless chicken thieves, all the way home.

"Maliit pa si Joey, sinusuheto ko na 'yan," she recalls.

(I disciplined him from when he was small.)

Lola also frowned on Joey's obsession with pop music, at least in the beginning. She put her foot down when her grandson started staying out all night practising with band mates, or playing at weekend parties. She would lie in wait in the kitchen and ambush Joey when he tried to sneak in.

"Minsan dumating 'yan, umaga na, may dala-dalang 'kulele. Ba't ngayon ka lang! Alam mo ginawa ko? Pinukpok ko sa kanya ang 'kulele! Ba't hindi ka umuwi kagabi? Tapos hinampas ko sa sahig ang 'kulele, durog-durog! Kaya hindi naging salbahe ang Joey - sinusuheto ko."

(One time he came home late with a ukelele. You know what I did? I broke it over his head.)

As Joey got older, however, dissuading him from playing in combos became a lost cause, and Lola conceded. Besides, Lolo indulged the boy, even borrowing drums so he could practice at home, much to the chagrin of the neighbors.

In 1959, Joey formed his first bona fide group, the Blue Jazzers. Six months later, he changed the band's name to the catchier Villains. When the surf music craze hit town, they became The Surfers and landed a six-month gig in Saigon in the early years of the Vietnam War. Finally, at the peak of global Beatlemania, Joey joined the Downbeats, the group with which he first tasted rock stardom, such as it was in Manila in the '60s.

"Noong araw, pag-umuwi 'yan galing sa tugtog, nakahanda na ang isang basong Klim na may dalawang pula ng itlog. Pag Linggo, ang ulam nila bulalo, mechado."

(When he came home from a gig, there would be a glass of milk with two egg yolks waiting for him. Sundays there would be bulalo and mechado.)

Eventually, Joey left the Downbeats to join the legendary Juan de la Cruz Band, helping usher in the golden age of Pinoy rock in the early '70s. At the height of their fame, the Juan de la Cruz Band could fill stadiums such as the Araneta Coliseum. Lola was there.

"Noong araw nagpupunta pa ako sa tugtugan," she recalls. "Bumabayad pa ako sa Araneta pag hindi ako nabibigyan ng ticket. Noong araw sinisipa ni Joey ang drums."

(I used to go to the concerts. I would even buy tickets to Araneta Coliseum. Joey used to kick his drums over.)

Through the ups and downs of his career as the country's first (some say only) rock star, Lola has been the one constant in Pepe's tumultuous life. Pepe has had at least four major relationships and about as many children. The women came and went, as did the money, the cars and the rock'n'roll lifestyle. But Lola remained.

When Pepe was busted for possession of drugs in 1992 and served 19 months in the Quezon City Jail, singing "Ang Himig Natin" for the other inmates, Lola was there to visit. No rubber hose this time, just a gentle admonition to be more careful next time.

When Pepe's eldest daughter Queenie (now singing with the showband Civil Eyes), whom Lola also brought up since she was little, delivered Pepe's first grandchild, Lola was there to pay the hospital bill.

And now that times are tight, Joey and family have once again moved into Lola's house in Kamuning.

"Alam mo, wala din namang suwerte si Joey," Lola shakes her head sadly.

(Joey has never had the luck.)

But who can tell when luck will turn?

Some people say that Pepe has lost it, that he's too addled with chemicals, too lazy or simply too old to regain the old spark. But anyone who has followed Joey Smith's career can tell you: never write Pepe off.

The man has fallen and crawled back so many times he seems indestructible. Or at least his liver is.

Pepe himself admits that in the bad old days, he came pretty close to entering that great rock'n'roll hall of fame in the sky more than once. One time, after a case of mistaken identity, he almost became a salvage victim. And earlier this year, he walked away from the car crash that killed fellow musician Noe Espino a.k.a. Bespren Diego, with barely a scratch.

And now, 25 years since leaving the Juan de la Cruz band, Pepe has a real, honest-to-goodness solo album. Finally.

Although he wrote the official Pinoy rock anthem "Ang Himig Natin," and several of Juan de la Cruz's hits, Pepe has never had a solo album. A number of cult classics such as "Summer Winds" and "Dr. Quack" were released as radio singles, credited to Joey Smith and the Airwaves. But due to one snafu or another, a solo album never materialized.

(Urban legend has it that sometime in the late '70s, Pepe composed an entire album's worth of material for what was to be Nonoy Marcelo's full-length animated feature "Alyas Pepeng Kidlat" after sequestering himself and the other musicians in a rented apartment for several weeks. When the time came to record the songs in the studio, according to this particular legend, Pepe had completely forgotten all the lyrics.)

No such problem with the current project (working title: "Ploink!"). Judging from the preliminary mix, it is a solid slab of classic Pinoy rock. Recorded with guitar ace Jun Lopito and bassist extraordinaire Dondi Ledesma, the project's mix of blues, ballads and solid raunch'n'roll showcases not only the trio's instrumental virtuosity, but the frontman's old stage charisma as well.

As the opening number, a classic blues stomper driven by Lopito's searing slide guitar, announces:

"'Eto na ako. Handa na ba kayo?" (Here I am. Are you ready?)

(Credit to the SUNDAY INQUIRER for the article and photo)