He was eighteen when I first met him at his Davidson Road home in Bambalapitiya. Handsome, rather chubby, as I remember him, already with the reputation of being an extremely good “guitarist”, Melroy De Silva was living right behind our little tenement home at 38, Lorenz Road, and if I remember correctly, it was his constant guitar-picking I heard, practically right over our back wooden fence, that made me want to meet this guy, so, one sunny day I decided to walk over to this house in Davidson Road and introduce myself to this guitar-picker. It was 1950, I had just turned fourteen in July of that year, played the Ukelele, and would sing to anyone who would listen, and loved music, especially what was termed “Country & Western”, in those good old days.
Found out that Melroy also loved the same type of music, and soon, we became very good friends. I have already written a well deserved tribute to this “Firefly”, now at rest, in Canada, so I do not intend to repeat myself. Still, I cannot believe that it is almost 1 year since John Melroy de Silva has passed-on. He was born on the 31st of December, 1932 and died on the 28th of January, 2018. As well as being the former leader of the “Fireflies” group in Ceylon, at that time, Melroy went on to be fondly remembered as “Guitar-John” in Vancouver B.C., where he continued to entertain everybody with, not just his guitar-picking, but also an endearing “Personality” who could make people smile.
As a guitarist, there have been, and there are still many players of this instrument who are considered to be “top-class”, and I would not doubt it for one second, BUT!!, It was a special “Latin-American” strum on any acoustic Spanish Guitar, that I remember Melroy de Silva for. NOBODY, and I mean NO-ONE would ever be able to match it. I consider myself to be a fairly good guitarist, quick to learn, etc., but I do remember watching this man’s right hand work magic on his “six-stringer” (at the time), watching for hours at a time, did, in fact learn to play these Latin/ Spanish songs, but was never able to accomplish that “special-strum” that Melroy seemed to manage so easily.
Melroy, as I have already said loved his C & W music, so while passing on his “memories” to his loved ones in Canada, I have decided to add two songs, recorded by the late great Hank Snow. Eventually, we ended up, thousands of miles apart, but Melroy, I will never forget you and the good times we had together, chasing all the pretty girls at the Lindsay Girls School in Bambalapitiya, serenading them, writing songs for them, etc., those WERE the days, I always say. God bless you, Melroy. eLanka AND Sri Lanka are proud of you.
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