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‘We practised music from our hearts’

  • Published at 08:08 pm November 29th, 2018
Dastagir Haque's Photo
Dastagir Haque, the lead vocalist of Underground Peace Lovers, was very popular among girls for his good looks and outstanding voice | Imtiaz Alam Beg

The band played an indispensable part in shaping up the rock music industry of the country. Their contributions to the music industry cannot be described in words

Underground Peace Lovers (UPL) is the first band that was formed in an independent Bangladesh. Formed in January 1972, it was one of the most popular bands of the time. 

The band played an indispensable part in shaping up the rock music industry of the country. Their contributions to the music industry cannot be described in words. 

UPL members stayed together for two years and performed at concerts and other shows regularly. They gained popularity in such short span of time for their music. 

The band’s line-up consisted of Dastagir Haque on lead vocals, Rumi on vocal and guitar, Sazzad Ali on vocal and guitar, Salahuddin Khan on bass and vocal, and Shahedul Huda on drums and vocal.

Formed in 1972, UPL was the first band in independent Bangladesh | Collected

In 1975, the band members split-up when Salahuddin went to England for higher studies. Sazzad left for Sweden, Shahedul moved to Canada and Dastagir returned to Rangpur.

Last year, founding members of the band reunited after four decades, and released their first self-titled album, “Underground Peace Lovers,” featuring 13 songs. 

The album was launched in both CD and online formats. The band members composed the tune and lyrics of this album. 

Recently, Dastagir Haque visited Dhaka, and during his stay, he talked about the old days of UPL in an up-close interview with the Dhaka Tribune’s Showtime. 

“Those were the best days of my life, we practiced music from our hearts, and spent hours after hours in the studio,” said nostalgic Dastagir. 

“Sazaad’s house was our jamming place and studio; we used to practice a lot.”

While talking about his first gig, the rock star said: “I was very afraid before my first show and tried to escape but Rumi and Salauddin found me. I played “Yesterday” on harmonica at that show.” 

When he was asked how the music scenario was the mid 70S, he replied: “Back in the days we didn’t have easy access to international music, we would buy cassettes and listen to it attentively to understand the music in order to practice it on our instruments,” said the veteran musician. 

“Music scenario was different back then, UPL had to go through immense amount of struggles but we never thought of money, rather our focus was to produce good music and shows.”

“Also, before any show we would focus on selecting the proper songs for the crowd.”

UPL used to cover Deep Purple, Santana, Rollin Stones, Beatles, CCR, Rare Earth, John MacClean etc. During live shows, they also covered songs of Bangladeshi artists like Abdul Alim. 

Dastagir Haque was very popular among girls for his good looks and outstanding voice. 

UPL used to perform in different clubs for both local and foreign audiences during the 70s | Collected

“I used to get letter from girls very often, and sometimes they wouldn’t believe that the songs were by a Bangladeshi band,” said Dastagir with a smile on his face.

When his friends moved abroad, he was very heart broken. Subsequently, he had to work other jobs to make a living. 

“In 1983 I joined Sonargaon hotel as a musician. Around 1984-85, I joined Feedback and performed with them for three months.” 

Shortly afterwards Dastagir joined “Early Bird,” founded by his brother Nayon Munshi. 

“I also performed at a concert organized by Apple Mahmud in 1975 at Moghbazar.” 

Talking about today’s music scenario and young musicians Dastagir shared his point of views with us. He stressed and requested the youngsters not to do drugs. He also discouraged young musicians to use computer generated auto-tunes and gadgets to produce music. 

“I would suggest young musicians to stay away from drugs; it only damages talents and nerve system which have bad impact on music career.”

He discussed the importance of regular practice sessions. “If we didn’t practice a lot, we wouldn’t have gained such perfection.”

“If our band didn’t disband we could have reached international level or still be active in the music scene,” said an emotional Dastagir. 

Later in his life, he did the background score in many films. But UPL was and still is the first love of Dastagir Haque.