At a time when entertainment was based on live concerts, the birth of Radio Ceylon opened up new avenues for people to listen to music. Of course back then, not everyone had access to the radio, but for the rare few who did, it was an absolute thrill. Everyone within earshot would gather at the one house that had the radio / radiogram in the village to listen to the evening shows. At first it was only the music of international names such as Elvis Presley or Cliff Richard that owned the airwaves. Soon local names began to claim their space in the music scene, all thanks to people such as Patrick Corera.
Through is his efforts, he paved the way for local artists to establish their name in the music industry of the 60’s by producing EP (extended play) records.
Joseph Vincent Patrick Corera was born on the 19th of July 1945 to Bharatha-Indian parents. He took on the reigns of the family record importing business after his father, Joseph Anthony Xavier Corera. In September 1966, Joseph Sr. purchased the well-known record bar Gowri Corporation located at Dam Street in the busy commercial town of Pettah. Gowri Corporation held the franchise to import Philips Records to Sri Lanka. Aged 21, Patrick joined the business and together the father son duo imported and sold Hindi, Tamil and English records in Sri Lanka. Soon he became the sole manager of Gowri Corporation and later he went on to produce original Sinhala EP records under the Philips Label.
Philips label records were also sold at the Children’s Bookshop before their own label ‘Sooriya’ was established.
From his brief time in the seminary Patrick was friends with Raymond Fonseka, Roy Fonseka and Nihal Silva. They bonded over their common love for music and this friendship bore fruit to the first Philips Records group song EP. Raymond, Roy and Nihal created the group ‘Samanalayo’ the first ever music group with a Sinhala name. In August 1967, they recorded four songs: “Nelavena Maw Ukule”, “Natum Guruwari”, “Paddemi Oruwe” and “Handa Eliye” at the Lewis Browns recording studio. The recording was done by Tony Fernando. It was sent for pressing in Singapore and so, the first ever Philips group song EP record ‘JVPC – 1001’ was born. JVPC, stands for the producer’s name, Joseph Vincent Patrick Corera.
One of the sample records from the first EP record by ‘Samanalayo’ was presented to Livy R. Wijemanna, the Director General of the then Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation and given the right to be played on their airwaves without payment.
Upon invitation by Noel Ranasinghe, Patrick attended a musical show held at St. Bridget’s Convent where he met with many upcoming musical groups of the time such as La Ceylonians, The Moonstones, The Dharmaratne Brothers, The Meemesso, Los Muchachos, Los Flamincos, La Bambas and The Humming Birds. Patrick was given permission by Dharmaratne Brothers to record this event. Thus, paving the way for more record productions in the future.
In 1968, he produced JVPC 1002 and 1003 EP records for the La Ceylonians led by Noel Ranasinghe. At the time Milton Mallawarachchi was also a part of the band. Later he aided in Milton’s first big break in his solo career by producing his first solo EP record, JVPC – 1052. The record included hit songs; “Oruwaka Pawena”, “Rankooduwa Oba Sadu”, “Mangale Neth Mangale” and “Sansara Sevanella”. Lyrics by Karunaratne Abeysekara and music direction by Mohamed Sali.
He was a great force in bringing many Sri Lankan groups to fame not just in our island but also abroad in our expatriate community in UK and Australia who bought his records eagerly.
Victor Ratnayaka, M.S. Fernando, H.R. Jothipala, Anton Rodrigo are some popular singers who sang for Philips EP records produced by Patrick Corera. He has produced around 100 EP records, truly a great contribution to the industry.
His business suffered in the 70’s when he fell ill with meningitis. However he re-launched the business in 80’s but this time it suffered at the hands of the rioters of ‘Black July’. He and his family lost their home, the business was burned down in the flames of racial violence. The wounds were too great for Patrick to bear this time and he never returned to the music industry till his death on the 24th of November 2009.
In Milroy Dharmaratne’s own words, “Patrick had a true artistic heart and helped a lot. But he never chased money and fame. He was every bit a gentleman.”