Pepe Smith: Mick Jagger of the Philippines

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3 years ago
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It's been 2 years after his passing, we remember one of the pioneers of Pinoy Rock, and an influence on the new generation of rock bands in the Philippines. Let's take a look back on his achievements and his contributions to our local music scene.

Joey Smith x Pepe Smith

Joseph William Feliciano Smith, popularly known as Joey Smith or Pepe Smith, was born on December 25, 1947, to Edgar William Smith, a naval aviator of the U.S. Army Air Corps, and Conchita Feliciano, a native of Angeles, Pampanga. Yes, he's a half-blood (Filipino-American) but proud of his Filipino heritage. At 8 years old, his parents separated. Conchita died from Hepatitis. Joey and his younger brother Raymond went to Kamuning, Quezon City to live with their grandmother, Concordia Go.

At 9 years old, Joey learned to play the drums and formed his 1st rock band at 11 years old called The Blue Jazzers, later The Villains, then The Surfers - composed of Joey's friends in the Kamuning district. In the early 1960s, they got a 6-month gig in Vietnam. Years later, Joey became a rock sensation as the lead vocals and drummer of Eddie Reyes and the Downbeats, as he imitates Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and earned him the title "Mick Jagger of the Philippines".

The Beatles

The Downbeats, appeared in TV specials and movies when they were invited to play as an opening act for the Beatles on July 4, 1966, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, and the highest-paid international band in Hong Kong at that time. Joey became part of the Japanese psychedelic rock trio Speed, Glue & Shinki as drummer & vocals. Formed in 1970 by guitarist Shinki Chen, and record producer Ikuzo Orita. The band's name came from Joey's use of amphetamines, and Kabe's interest in sniffing Pro-Bond Glue. Joey returned to the Philippines, as he joined Juan dela Cruz in December 1970, with Wally Gonzales and Mike Hanopol then reinvented his persona as Pepe Smith when he left the trio.

Speed, Glue & Shinki

Juan dela Cruz is a Filipino term for "everyman" similar to "Joe Blow". Years later from trio to a quartet, when Edmon Fortuno steps in as drummer while Pepe decided to play the guitar. The Antipolo Rock Music Festival was one of their 1st gigs, and the band invented our local rock genre, instead of doing covers of international hit singles, the band decided to focus on original songwriting in our local language.

Juan dela Cruz. From left to right: Wally Gonzales, Mike Hanopol, and Pepe Smith.

Himig Natin (Our Hymn) and other hit singles of the band became rock anthems in the Philippines, composed by Pepe Smith while he's on backstage in a ladies' toilet, the door to the men's toilet was busted. The band became superstars of their generation but went on hiatus, and Pepe's passion for Rock music doesn't stop there. Until he was arrested in 1992 for drug trafficking. He had a history of substance abuse, but many people believed he was singled out because of his popularity. His frequent visitor was Ada Ongpin while he's serving his jail time. Pepe served jail time for 19 months and was eventually released for lack of evidence. 6 years after his release, Juan dela Cruz had a reunion concert with his bandmates Mike Hanopol, and Wally Gonzales.

Pepe released his solo album Idiosyncrasies in 2005 and was featured on both TV & film. Howie Severino's documentary titled Pepe's Myth on i-Witnesss aired on April 24, 2006. It features raw footage of Pepe's interviews, family & friends, and his concert inside Quezon City Jail. in 2014, Pepe Diokno's Above the Clouds, Pepe was 2 of the main characters, and used some of his songs.

Pinoy Icons Commemorative Stamp of Pepe Smith

Pepe was rushed to Arnaiz Hospital on this day (January 28, 2019) due to his chest pain while practicing and playing the guitar early morning. He died of cardiac arrest, as the whole music industry, including our local Rock scene, condoles his passing. He was laid to rest at the Loyola Memorial Park, ParaƱaque City. Pepe survived with his eldest daughter Queenie, followed by Sanya, Beebop, Desiderata, Delta, and his wife Rosuela Cruz.

Aside from his impersonation of Mick Jagger, he is considered the Father of Pinoy Rock. As he stated from one of his interviews, keep on going, even if I no longer live, keep continuing to rock n' roll. His music and contributions to our local Rock scene will live on through the ages.


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3 years ago
Topics: 2021, Philippines, Story, People, Music, ...


Finally, I stumbled upon someone who pays tribute to Pinoy rock, and to one of the legends behind it. This is great.

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3 years ago

Yesterday was Pepe's death anniversary, and I decided to write this article as tribute to the Father of Pinoy Rock. Will continue to write more, and thanks for the upvote, bro!

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