Biddu Appaiah or Biddu is an Indian born music composer, producer and music writer who has many great international hits to his credit.
His Early Days
Biddu Appaiah was born in Bangalore in 1944 in a Kodava family. His teen years were spent listening to the rock and pop tracks of the 1960s, which were played out over Radio Ceylon, a popular channel back then.
He learnt to play the guitar and formed his own music group with a few friends. They sang poplar numbers from the Beatles and Rolling Stones in many of Bangalore’s clubs. The group later disbanded, and Biddu continued on his journey for some time.
In 1967, Biddu decided to leave for England. He had little money, but managed to earn his passage as he went. Once he arrived in England, he supported himself by doing odd jobs and even worked as a chef in the US Embassy.
His Career as a Music Producer
Biddu tried his luck as a singer, but things did not work out. He then decided to produce his own records. He saved some money and started recording singles, but none them ever received any mainstream success.
His early recordings were just played in obscure clubs. His first breakthrough was with a Japanese Band called The Tigers. He recorded an English number called ‘Smile for Me’ written by the Bee Gees. The song became a huge hit in Japan, topping the charts.
The Euro Disco Movement
Things started taking a turn for the better for Biddu in 1972 when he composed the music for a UK spy movie ‘The Embassy’. It was during this time that he started working with Carl Douglas, a Jamaican-born singer. Biddu recorded two singles by Carl Douglas, ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ and ‘I Want to Give You Everything’.
Kung Fu Fighting was a huge international hit, and it sold eleven million copies and received Golden Certification status. It also won a Grammy for the Best Selling Single. Biddu then produced Carl Douglas’s first LP, ‘Kung Fu Fighter’, which included ‘Dance the Kung Fu’ – another hit.
Biddu’s reputation started shooting up from then on and he went on to produce more huge hits, including the LP album ‘Blue Eyed Soul’ which included two chart toppers, ‘Summer of 42’ and ‘Jump For Joy’. He then teamed up with singer Tina Charles and their first single ‘You Set My Heart on Fire’ landed them a huge deal with CBS.
In 1976, he produced two albums: Rain Forest and Eastern Man. He won several awards for the album Rain Forest, including that for Song Writer of the Year. He began experimenting with electronic music and with Hi-NRG disco. In 1977 he brought out an LP titled ‘Life’, featuring Jamaican soul singer Jimmy James. The album included two smash hits ‘Disco Fever’ and ‘I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me’.
His Tryst With Asian Disco and Indie-Pop
In 1979, Biddu scored the music for a song in the Hindi movie, Qurbani. He composed the music for ‘App Jaise Koi’, sung by a 15 year old girl, Nazia Hassan. Biddu later signed up Nazia and her brother Zoheb and brought out the album ‘Disco Deewane’, which became a phenomenal hit across Asia and made Nazia Hassan a household name.
In 1995 he brought out the hugely popular Indie-Pop album ‘Made in India’ with singer Alisha Chinai. Through the 1990s, he worked with singers like Shaan and Sonu Nigam.
In 2004 he produced the album Diamond Sutra, inspired by 9/11. The album features a picture of Buddha on the cover and has Sanskrit chants.
Biddu now lives in Spain with his English wife and their two children. At the Asian Music Awards in 2010 in UK, Biddu was honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award and also won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the JD Rock Awards in India.