CHRIS GREET, SHOWMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE: By Joe Van Langenberg

Mr Christopher Greet

It is with great sadness that I inform all members of eLanka of the passing of not just a very good friend, but also of someone who was a true legend of our beautiful Motherland, Sri Lanka. There were only a very few Sri Lankans of this halcyon era in Lanka that that didn’t know Chris, be it even only his dulcet tones on Radio Ceylon, if not personally. The era I write about was during the 1950’s.

We were both young & carefree, Chris, just a few years older than me owned a second-hand Mayflower car, in which he would pick me up in order to attend a few rehearsals of my song Dreamworld, and on the way, the car would inevitably break down, and Chris would then get out, kick the closest tyre and say to me, “don’t worry Desmond, she may flower again”, get back into the car and somehow get it going again. Chris Greet was the Producer of the very first professional recording of my song, and I couldn’t have done it without him.

          My good friend Joe VanLangenberg has also written a recent tribute to Chris Greet, a tribute that is now repeated on eLanka, at my request. Thank you, Joe, and, of course, Neil. It is fully appreciated.

Our condolences go out to the family of this great guy who honoured me by being my Producer and never ever forgetting the song he produced. 

Christopher Greet died of Covid 19 complications in England on 29/12/20, but rest assured my friend, I will never forget you. Sri Lanka has lost yet another REAL LEGEND, and I, a REAL FRIEND. Rest now, in peace, and may God have you in HIS keeping forever.

Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly.  

Joe Van Langenberg

To the younger generation, the name of Chris Greet may not ring a bell. But to those who were around in the early eightees or thereabouts, they will remember Christopher Arthur Greet, affectionately called & known as Chris, as one of, if not the most respected radio personality; who strode the hallowed corridors of showbiz with aplomb. Chris was the complete package. He was an announcer, who was one of the strongest linchpins of one of the most popular radio stations in South Asia; Radio Ceylon. Among his contemporaries were Jimmy Barucha, Tim Haushington, Livy Wijemanne, Greg Roswoski, Vernon Corea, Wijeya Corea & Leon Belleth, among others. All of the above, were stalwarts in their own right, who brought happiness into the lives of many; with some of them gaining solace, from the music the disc jockeys dished out from their turn tables, at that point in time; as did Chris, who was very much a significant part of the equation. Despite been relatively slightly-built, Chris was packed with energy, not to mention bubbling over with creativity & enthusiasm. Many wannabe announcers & others, keen in making it big in the industry, cut their teeth under the tutelage of this charismatic personality. Chris was never one, who was satisfied in hiding his light under a bushel. Nor did he think twice, before agreeing to impart his valuable know-how to his students; a know-how others yearned to know how. Chris enjoyed iconic status in the Radio Industry. It will be no exaggeration to say, that he was the catalyst for Radio Ceylon becoming the envy of broadcasting, not only in Ceylon ( as it was then known) but in many other countries where Chris excelled & where he was recognised. Deciding to spread his wings, Chris secured employment as an account director at Intisel Advertising, located at 60 Green Path Colombo 7. He later recorded commercials from Sri Lankan advertising agencies back in the 1980’s. Among his earlier roles as an actor, in which he distinguished himself; was portraying the role of a British officer in the unforgettable epic movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”, a timeless classic which has & continues being the envy of many a film producer, or any person associated with the industry. Needless to say, Chris’ dedicated & impeccable performance, proved to be a cut above the rest. He also appeared alongside some of the greatest stage actors, vis-a-vis Lucien de Zoysa, to name just one, among a host of others. Chris was also an accomplished mimic, who imitated the chirping of birds & other animals, in a special programme which was given considerable airplay at the time, to the unrestrained delight of both kids & adults alike. He was also a music director who produced the song “Dreamworld”, a song written by Desmond “Des” Kelly, who happened to be one of Sri Lanka’s most sought-after, multi-talented musicians & one who is still respected & revered. Now in the winter of his life, this once-effervercent showman, spends his days in a nursing home in England; cared for by one of Florence Nightingale’s angels. Albeit ravaged by the debiltating effects of acute dementia; Chris has rare moments of lucidity; in that, he remembers the lyrics of “Dreamworld”. His eyes light up & he comes alive, the moment he listens to the recording. Such is the power of music. And such is the magic of Des Kelly’s voice & the enduring popularity of the song, which has hitherto not lost its lustre! We wish Chris Greet the very best which life can offer!

 

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