X'Ho a music trailblazer and icon who inspired many

Death of multi-hyphenate Chris Ho yesterday morning came as a shock to many as he had been quietly battling stomach cancer for the past two months

Radio veteran, singer, club DJ and writer Chris Ho died of stomach cancer yesterday morning.

A post on his Facebook page, as well as on radio station Mediacorp Gold 905's page, stated that he had been battling cancer for the past two months.

Ho, also known as X'Ho, was a presenter on Gold 905's evening drive-time show, Homestretch With Chris Ho, but it is understood he had not been on air for several months.

He was influential in the Singapore music scene through his work as an artiste, a radio and club DJ and as a writer.

As a singer, he was the frontman of Transformer, and later Zircon Lounge, a 1980s band that have been credited as one of the pioneers of the alternative music scene in Singapore. He has released several solo albums, including Singapore Uber Alles in 2011.

Ho also wrote about music and other subjects for publications such as The Straits Times and the now-defunct music magazine BigO.

His books include Skew Me, You Rebel Meh? (1998), in which he wrote about sociopolitical issues in Singapore.

In recognition of his contributions to the music industry, Ho was awarded the Patron of Music accolade by Compass (Composers and Authors Society of Singapore) in 2018.

His death has sparked an outpouring of tributes from friends, fans and colleagues in the media and entertainment industry, many of whom were not aware that he was ill.

Ho was an inspiration to many in the radio industry, says Bernard Lim, 53, program director of radio stations Kiss 92 and ONE FM 91.3.

"Chris Ho has always been a mentor and inspiration to me. Many years ago, he roused my passion in radio and landed me my first freelance job in Rediffusion back in the 1980s.

"It is truly shocking and sad to hear the news. We have lost a great radio voice in Singapore."

Radio DJ and singer John Klass, 46, was one of Ho's close friends who was with him when he died at National University Hospital.

"I've known Chris Ho since I joined Rediffusion in 1991. We shared a lot in common, from being radio hosts to songwriting and being recording artistes," Klass, a presenter on radio station Class 95, tells The Straits Times.

"He was a dear friend who was a true artiste and the consummate professional in all he did in his profession as a radio host and in his immense love for music.

"I'm truly grateful to have been with him in his final hours and had a chance to thank him for his friendship and love through the years."

Singer and composer Dick Lee, 65, tells ST he is "shocked" to hear about Ho's death as he did not know he was ill.

"When I met Chris as he was about to leave MDC (the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company), I knew he was going to make an impact in some way, and he certainly fulfilled those expectations with a music career that stood out for its originality and daring.

"Through our collaborations, I learnt about the importance of sticking to your guns no matter what and believing in oneself."

Patrick Chng, 53, frontman of indie music pioneers The Oddfellows, called Ho a champion of the music scene in Singapore.

He says: "Chris was a trailblazer. Thanks to him, I discovered so much new music. He was also so supportive of many local acts including The Oddfellows. From our early days, he supported us, writing about us in The Straits Times back in 1989. He's also got one of the best voices on Singapore radio. A true icon, he will be missed."

Former radio and television host Lauretta Alabons, 51, said Ho seemed fine when he visited The Flying V, a bar opened by her concert promotion company LAMC, two months ago.

Alabons, who first knew Ho when they were presenters on Rediffusion in the 1990s, tells ST: "I have so much respect for his knowledge in the music business. I will miss him."

He was famously secretive about his age, but according to close friends, he was in his 60s when he died. He is survived by his mother.

His wake is held at the Ruby Room at the Singapore Casket till Thursday, 11am to 11pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2021, with the headline 'X'Ho a music trailblazer and icon who inspired many'. Subscribe