When I was growing up in the Hultsdorf area of Colombo in the 1940’s, carnivals were one of the major events that entertained people . I often visited those carnivals and what fascinated me the most were the performances by Wally Bastiansz and his band.
In the early 1950’s, I was introduced to Wally Bastiansz by W.M. Kerner, an uncle of mine who was then a member of Wally’s band. Wally gave me the chance to sing “chorus” parts in his songs and later I also played the Maracas, Bongo and Congo Drums. I was paid 3 Rupees (about $0.03) for a show, and at that time that was good pocket money for a budding young talent like me.
In 1958, I got through the singing test conducted by the Radio Ceylon (what is now Sri Lanka Broadcastings Corporation). Wally recognized my talent, and he would pass on to me some of the bookings that he could not attend due to his busy schedule as a musician and a police officer. That year I recorded my first song KANTHORUWA KANTHORUWA (“Office Where I Work”), written by Wally Bastiansz.
My “guru” Wally Bastiansz was a good-hearted man, who was always willing to help his fellow artists personally. My music was greatly influenced by Wally’s style of singing and lyrics and I must say that the ballad style that I have adopted was a direct result of singing “chorus” accompaniment for Wally’s songs.
Anton Jones – Singer/Performer
(Interviewed by Lal Jayasekera, April, 2013