Taiwanese singer 高凌風 has passed away at Ci Ji Hospital at 1950 tonight after a long and painful struggle with leukemia.
Originally named 葛元誠, 高凌風 was born to a Vietnamese mother in Kaoshiung on 28 February 1950. He completed his education with a university degree, majoring in English Language. He also went by the English name of Frankie Kao. Kao started his singing career in 1974, recording theme songs for movies. As he often lifted his shoulders during singing, making his neck disappear, he was nicknamed Frog Prince. Apart from recording, Kao also performed live on stage. He thrilled audiences with his flamboyant costumes and wacky dance moves. The poor standard of his singing was no issue.
During the height of his career, Frankie Kao commanded an appearance fee of NT$240,000 cash per night. However, he was also extremely outspoken and forthright, earning him quite a few enemies in the industry. One even hired a gunman to kill him. Fortunately, Kao escaped with non-fatal wounds. He exited from his singing career at his peak in the late 1980s and ventured into various businesses. Unfortunately, all his business ventures went badly and he returned to the industry in 1996.
Being very particular about vocals, I was never a fan of 高凌風. I didn’t like his singing and I was only mildly amused by his stage antics. However, after his return to the entertainment industry, I was impressed with the way he hosted talk shows. The man was no bimbo. In fact, he was very witty and a talented comedian to boot. He also shared a lot of words of wisdom with the younger generation of entertainers.
Finally, I have to say that I admire this man – the courage he showed towards the end. Indeed, dying in bed is not the best way to go. A mountaineer should die on the mountains. A singer should die after his last performance. I must get a copy of his book.
© Chan Joon Yee