Singer Halil Chik, who made his name in the 1970s as 'Singapore's Tom Jones', dies at 70

Veteran singer Halil Chik was hospitalised on June 19 after suffering a stroke at his house in Kuala Lumpur.
Veteran singer Halil Chik was hospitalised on June 19 after suffering a stroke at his house in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Veteran singer Halil Chik, who made his name as "Singapore's Tom Jones" in the 1970s, died on June 30 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 to famous singers such as Tom Jones and Louis Armstrong, and 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 23-year-old son, Alif, told Singapore newspaper Berita Harian that Halil was in Singapore to celebrate Hari Raya with his family in early June. Halil also has a 19-year-son, Johan. Both children are from his past 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.