Conferring the Hall of Fame honor to the late singer-songwriter Francis Magalona—given no less by the country’s only rock station NU 107—only affirmed the fact that there was more to the legendary artist than just being boxed under the label, "Master Rapper."
And true enough, Francis was one of the few local artists who successfully crossed over and merged hip hop and rock without sacrificing quality. Already an established rap singer-performer at the time of the alternative music explosion in the early ’90s, Francis embraced the burgeoning trend by courageously incorporating rock sound to his music.
Integrating distorted guitars, drums with mixers, Francis allowed his music to evolve as proven by the subsequent albums he released in the mid-90s: Meron Akong Ano (1993), Freeman (1995), Happy Battle (1996), The Oddventures of Mr. Cool (1998).
Francis’ collaboration with local rock bands, most notably with the Eraserheads, clearly illustrated his ease in shifting from one genre to another. Right up to his death on March 6, 2009, Francis was highly respected by his peers and fellow musicians for his artistry and dedication when it comes to his craft.
GIANT TRIBUTE. Personally on hand to accept the posthumous recognition staged last October 30 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City was Pia Arroyo-Magalona—the widow of Francis, who is also the sole executor of his estate—along with their children.
A special tribute performance followed next featuring Magalona’s son, Elmo, and Pupil frontman Ely Buendia. The two performed the song, "Higante," which is one of the last songs recorded by Francis in his collaboration project with Buendia.
As expected, the Rock Awards (now on its 16th year) applauded the best in the local rock scene. This year’s offering was billed, High Fidelity, which according to Quark "is an allusion to both the level of technical expertise of 2009’s honorees, and to the defining characteristics that can be ascribed to the ever-evolving sound of Philippine music. Thus, it made perfect sense that the winners comprised an eclectic collection of artists possessing diverse styles, yet with a decidedly distinct Filipino flavor."
Former Twisted Halo chief, Vin Dancel, and his new band, Peryodiko, won as Best New Artist. The band’s guitarist, Kakoy Legaspi, took home the Guitarist of the Year trophy while studio whiz, Robin Rivera, was named as Producer of the Year for his work in Peryodiko’s debut album. Interestingly, Robin’s last Rock Awards triumph was 12 years ago for his valuable effort on the Eraserheads’ groundbreaking Christmas album, Fruitcake.
UP DHARMA DOWN’S NIGHT. Alan Burdeos of Kamikazee won as Drummer of the Year while Chicosci bagged the Listeners Choice honor. Ex-Rivermaya chief Rico Blanco took home the Song of the Year award for his hit single, "Antukin."
Sugarfree’s latest album, Mornings and Airports, was proclaimed Best Album Packaging. Ivan Garcia of the young punk band, Hilera, won as Bassist of the Year. Hilera was also hailed as Best Live Act.
But the evening’s biggest winner was undoubtedly cult favorite, Up Dharma Down. The experimental pop-rock outfit won Album of the Year for their second record, Bipolar. Vocalist Armi Millare was named Vocalist of the Year alongside Sugarfree’s Ebe Dancel.
The three former members of the legendary band, Eraserheads, namely, Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan and Buddy Zabala, reunited briefly on one stage to present the Artist of the Year award to Up Dharma Down.
Performing acts that evening include Itchyworms, Kjwan, Juan Pablo Dream, Urbandub, Franco, Greyhoundz and Pupil. The legendary blues-rock unit, Razorback, drove everyone’s energy level to overdrive through their brand of blatant rock n’ roll.
Celebrities present that evening were Eugene Domingo, Denise Laurel, Carlo Aquino, Ehra Madrigal, Tim Yap and Iza Calzado, who hosted the event with Ramon Bautista.
CLICK HERE to view photos taken during the event.