UK-based musician Raja Ram tells us what keeps him ticking
We met up with 74-year-old multi-instrumentalist Raja Ram (born Ronald Rothfield) who simply loves making music. His sound is influenced by psychedelic, trance, retro and jazz mostly, with a lively vibe. “I wake up in the morning feeling good and want to communicate it. We all have divine energy in us, the secret is how to get it out. Music is my platform,” he smiles adding, “I may be losing my hair, going deaf, and half blind, but I have no intention of retiring for another 25 years.”
Ram has been part of musical history since the early 60s. He started with UK-based outfit Quintessence, opened shows for iconic groups like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Who. “We did over 400 gigs with these bands, playing rock, Indian and improvised music,” he tells us. And he embraces the fact that music has definitely changed over the years — just like himself. “I am very fortunate to be able to make and produce music,” he says and then reveals that some adroit multi-tasking and time management makes things easy. “You sleep a little, eat a little and the rest of the time be creative. It’s very easy. All you have got to do is focus on only the good things,” he declares.
His love for travel, he tells us, defined him. He describes how he left Australia in the 1950s on the hippie trail. “I was eighteen years old and very restless. I wanted to leave Australia and the only way was by boat. It took me six weeks to get dropped off at Cochin where the rest of my journey began,” he recalls. Travel naturally opened up a whole new world filled with opportunity and ideas. Soon after that he went to New York in 1965 and studied jazz. He was already well versed in the flute from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
He then found his way to London to put together a band (Quintessence) in 1969. “Since then I have been playing non-stop. I’ve completed over a thousand gigs at least and I still enjoy every minute,” Ram says, beaming. Despite his hippie past, Ram is quite the doting family guy — hanging out with his eight-year-old granddaughter and daughter in London between gigs. He will be playing at Pebble along with DJ Lucas this Sunday (February 15).
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