His voice was compared with Tom Jones'

Veteran singer Halil Chik, who made his name as "Singapore's Tom Jones" in the 1970s, died on Sunday at Ampang Hospital, Selangor. He was 70.

He was hospitalised on June 19 after suffering a stroke at his house in Kuala Lumpur.

Known for evergreen Malay pop hits such as Renungan Matamu (The Gaze Of Your Eyes) and Lenggang Mak Limah (Mak Limah's Swing), he released his debut eponymous album in 1977 after he was signed by record label EMI.

It earned him the distinction of being the label's first act to release a full album at a time when the others were releasing shorter EPs.

Halil released five more albums and became one of the more popular Malay male singers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Born in Perak, Halil moved to Singapore at the age of six with his family when his policeman father was stationed here.

His strong baritone was often compared with famous singers such as Tom Jones and Louis Armstrong. He got his start in show business singing at weddings in the early 1970s before getting regular gigs at venues such as The Horizon Club at Shangri-La Hotel.

The Singapore permanent resident and Malaysian citizen has been based in Kuala Lumpur since 1985.

His son Alif, 23, told Singapore newspaper Berita Harian that Halil was in Singapore to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa with his family early last month. Halil also has a 19-year-old son, Johan. Both children are from his previous marriage to a Vietnamese who now lives in the United States, according to Berita Harian.

His last performance in Singapore was at Wisma Geylang Serai on May 25. He also played a solo concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio in 2015, his first ticketed show in Singapore in three decades.

His body was buried in the Ukay Perdana Muslim Cemetery in Selangor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2019, with the headline 'His voice was compared with Tom Jones''. Print Edition | Subscribe