Mumbai Music Community Mourn the Loss of Veteran Guitarist Babu Choudhary
Warren Mendonsa, Randolph Correia, Paresh Kamath and Ehsaan Noorani share memories
The music fraternity in India mourns the loss of one of its most iconic guitarists Babu Choudhary today. Choudhary began his music journey playing with Mumbai rock band People in 1978. Comprising Ranjit Barot (drums), Hosi Nanji (bass) and Ronnie Desai (guitars), the group was especially popular on the college circuit at the time.
In 1995, Choudhary founded Musica, a music production firm that specialized in radio spots, music for ad films, corporate films and audio-visuals. He also has three studio albums to his name: Somewhere Out There, Element of Surprise and The Electric Sky.
One of India’s most respected guitarists, Choudhary has influenced a generation of musicians in India, all of whom remember him as a kind, encouraging musician who would go out of his way to help budding artists. Rolling Stone India spoke with some of them:
‘My life changed after meeting Babu in 1984’
When it comes to guitarists from India, Babu is iconic. His band People were really one of the top bands. I used to go for all their shows and absolutely loved his guitar work. My life changed after meeting Babu in 1984; he was a guitarist on another level. Later he became my brother-in-law, which was great! I am really going to miss him… Musicians never die, they just fade away.
‘Babu was really encouraging; just the opposite of the older condescending guys’
I can’t remember when we first met but I think it was somewhere in the mid-Nineties. I started meeting all the older guys and through them I met Babu. Then he would keep calling us to The Ghetto to play. Back then, I had a band called Bombay Black and Babu happened to sit in with us a couple of times. There were a lot of the older guys who were condescending, but Babu was exactly the opposite. I actually spoke to Babu a month ago and that’s the sad part because I told him I’d come and meet him, and then I went to the U.S. for a short tour and kept saying I’ll go see him to myself but it eventually just slipped my mind. He was really encouraging when I was in my early twenties playing guitar.
‘We had that relationship where we could bond over similar things’
I did have the pleasure of playing with Babu once. He had a company called Musica that did ad films and there was a party for musicians in the ad industry and Babu joined us on stage. I think one of the songs was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles and I remember he played a really good solo. He was a big fan of Jeff Beck. There’s a lovely song by Jeff Beck called “Nadia” and once Babu came to me and said, “Man you got to check this song out by Jeff Beck, he sounds like he’s Indian.” We’re both guitar players so we had that relationship where we could bond over similar things and he will really be missed.
‘He was the most senior guy I knew, and the guy was a cat!’
He was always helpful; he was really kind and helped organize the gigs for us back in the day at The Ghetto. He would organize jam sessions where musicians could hang out and play which is memorable. He always pushed the musicians especially the guitar players. He was the most senior guy I knew, and the guy was a cat! Just playing and jamming with him was great, there were some jams also at the old Razz too. The last time I ran into him was probably at a gig at Blue Frog.