Wong Ka Kui, Beyond, and Chinese Rock and Roll

Wong Ka KuiThis month marks the anniversary of the birth–and death–of Wong Ka Kui, the greatest musician that ever lived.  Sadly, outside of the Chinese community, only a small handful of people are familiar with him and the musical legacy he left behind.  Here’s an introduction to the greatest musical genius and rock and roll pioneer you’ve never heard of.

In 1983, Wong Ka Kui formed a Cantonese rock band named Beyond where he was the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist.  In a period where manufactured music dominated Hong Kong’s music scene, Wong Ka Kui stood out by composing and writing over ninety percent of Beyond’s songs, which were not only above love and hope, but about loss and sadness, overcoming obstacles, searching for peace, and most importantly, pursuing one’s dreams despite hardships.  He used his music as a vehicle to inspire change, pushing social issues to the forefront and raising awareness of the problems plaguing society.  Wong Ka Kui single-handedly revolutionized the music scene, putting Chinese rock and roll on the map. He was quoted as saying, “I wanted to hear a certain type of music, but it was absent in Hong Kong, so I decided to compose and sing these songs myself.”

Asian music never had the chance to thrive internationally, but I’m positive that if he was still making music today, he’d achieve international success–even breaking into the English-speaking market–and put Asian music on a world stage.  But no, Wong Ka Kui’s untimely death occurred at the height of his career after falling off a stage while filming a game show in Japan in 1993.  Yes, he made his lasting mark in music all within ten years! Unfortunately, this tragic loss stopped Chinese rock & roll’s momentum dead in its tracks.

There’s no mistaking the influence that Wong Ka Kui and Beyond had on music.  Ka Kui’s distinct and powerful voice captivated those who were lucky enough to listen to him.  He was a true musician and artist–he could sing, write, AND play a musical instrument.   Considering how people desperately seek music as a way to find consolation or to relate to the world, the loss of Ka Kui was the worst blow to music–and, specifically, to Hong Kong’s music industry–for which we will never recover from.  Wong Ka Kui was a legend ahead of his time.  It is no wonder his music speaks to fans today just as they did over 30 years ago. Not a week goes by where I don’t listen to his music.  His soulful voice continues to touch me; his songs resonating long after listening to them.

I hope this blog introduces Wong Ka Kui to all of those who are unfamiliar.  It is my wish that his music lives on.  I urge you to do more research on him, as his story is a great one about perseverance and hard work.  Please share his music with others so that his songs continue to be heard, inspiring change for the better.

On a side note, I found some interesting similarities between Wong Ka Kui and Bon Jovi. They were both born in 1962 and both started their rock bands in 1983.  Their songs also share similar musical qualities, so perhaps if you’re into Bon Jovi–or David Bowie and Pink Floyd, two of Wong Ka Kui’s biggest influences–you’ll also listen to Wong Ka Kui’s music as well.

Below are some of Beyond’s greatest hits.  I sincerely hope you enjoy them.  I’m always open to discuss them or help with translations if needed.  For those new to Wong Ka Kui’s music, what are your first impressions?  Do his songs resonate with you?

Beyond’s  signature song, “Glorious Years,” about racism and oppression, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggles as the first black president of South Africa.

Another signature song, “Under a Vast Sky,” about chasing after one’s dreams.

Here’s a song, “Amani,” about striving for peace, inspired during a visit to the war-torn nation of Tanzania.

Beyond also has Mandarin and Japanese versions of a few of their greatest hits, so I hope you search for and listen to those as well.

Here’s to the legendary Wong Ka Kui, Beyond, and Chinese rock and roll!

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12 thoughts on “Wong Ka Kui, Beyond, and Chinese Rock and Roll

  1. Listening to his voice sends chills down my spine. He was so unique and ahead of his time. Absolutely love him and his band, Beyond. One of my favorite songs of theirs is the one that they pay tribute to a mother’s love, how vast, kind, and unselfish it is.

    • Hi Becky

      Yes, Wong Ka Kui was definitely one-of-a-kind; his skills and talent will never be matched. It’s still so hard for me to accept that he’s gone. In times of loneliness, hardship, or sadness, how I wish I could listen to some new music of his to make everything right again.

      “Truly Love You” is a great song of his, and also one of my favorites. Where are you from, and how did you hear of Beyond in the first place?

  2. Thanks for the blog. Brings back a lot of my 1980s memories. I love Wong Ka Kui. His music is really inspiring. The more I listen to his voice and music, the more I miss him. Have you seen his movie, the Cageman?

    • Hey, thanks so much for reading my blog and appreciating Wong Ka Kui’s music! I’ve been looking for other singers who match his style, but nobody comes close. I haven’t seen “The Cageman” before, but I’ve been wanting to see it. What’s your all-time favorite song from him and why?

      • Hey there,

        I found your blog by accident. I was searching and reading Ka Kui’s stuff and it linked me to your blog : )

        I don’t think there will ever be another 黃家駒. Many singers trying to sing like him or mimic his voice or play guitar like him. Even though there is a close match, still there won’t be one as unique as him. You know what I mean? I sound obsessed haha.

        I started listening to Beyond in the 80s, pretty much when Beyond first formed. So I’d have to say my favorites are 再見理想 and 海闊天空 and a few more.

        I want to buy they”Cageman” and “Beyond’s Diary”. Did you know the 30th Anniversary of Beyond’s biography was released this year? There are 2 volumns and both weigh about 2 kilos. All in Chinese though, can you read Chinese? I can’t read much.

  3. There definitely will not be another 黃家駒. I always wonder where his music would be today if he was still with us, but we will never know. Have you heard this song: http://youtu.be/WI1xtful36Q? It’s from a Beyond fan whose voice very much resembles 黃家駒.

    再見理想 is definitely one of my all-time favorite songs, along with 海闊天空 and 光輝歲月. “一起高呼 Rock ‘N Roll” has to be one of the greatest lines ever written in a song, and I’m really glad it’s there for rock and roll fans to enjoy.

    I didn’t realize they released a biography of the 30th anniversary of Beyond. I’ll have to look for it. I can read Chinese since I currently attend Chinese school, but my reading skills are just okay lol.

    • Omg! I fell in love with this song (天地), when I was searching all Beyond’s songs through YouTube. I never heard this song before, I found it by accident on YouTube and fell in live with it. Makes me miss Kar Kui even more. His voice, his personality, his passion for music and his determination, I love everything about him.

      So the link is from a Beyond’s friend? The voice is so similar I almost can tell the difference. Well, if you didn’t mention it, I would not have known. Wow!

      The biography is called “真的 Beyond, The History”. Volume 3 has just been released. There are lots of pictures in these books that have never been showned. Pictures of them from the very beginning.

      There are many things in life I can relate to him, I wish he was still alive and I wish I have met him (which I could have). He would be 52 years old if he was still alive. Would Beyond still exit if he was still alive? Definitely I think. Sometimes, I’m a bit mad with what happened, about how he died. If it wasn’t the Japanese idea of TV game show, he wouldn’t have died. But then again, if Kar Kui didn’t have such a dream to move on, he wouldn’t have died either. Anyway, I wish we could rewind things and turn back the time.

      About The History books, apparently, you can only buy in HK. Do you have friends in HK you can ask them to buy for you? I can’t read Chinese much but I’ve got the books : D

      • Yes, 天地 is the BEST song from a singer whose voice most closely resembles 黃家駒. The song really captures Wong Ka Kui’s spirit and essence. I believe this song is just written and produced by a regular Beyond fan.

        I’m also a bit confused by who exactly sings some of the other songs made by Beyond fans. Have you heard this one? http://youtu.be/LJYEmRxOKTI Do you have the link to the songs you mentioned that has 天地 and 23 other songs?

        That biography sounds like one I’ll have to read. I wish there would also be some previously unreleased music included in it. I have some casual friends in HK, but I visit there once every 2-3 years, so I may just try and search for the biography myself while I’m there.

        Beyond would definitely still be alive if Wong Ka Kui was still around. I would have LOVED to hear how their music would have evolved. I still can’t get over how the tragedy happened. If a single thing had happened differently, like how he landed after the fall or if the water was mopped up, he’d still be with us.

        Like you, I definitely still carry much grief over his loss. All he and Beyond wanted to do was to expand their music, to continue to evolve so that fans across the countries could hear them. The accident stopped all momentum and killed the future of Chinese rock and roll. I await the day for the revival of this niche in rock and roll.

      • I saw it on YouTube, I didn’t copy the link : (
        I searched again and found Lam sings the song, but written by Wong Ka Kui. Huh? I’m confused again.

        I kind of blame the Japanese TV station for Ka Kui’s death. If it wasn’t their work ethic (work late and overwork), Ka Kui would not have had the accident. I know many of Beyond’s fans feel the same. But I haven’t heard or seen the other 3 Beyond members mention any of this.

        You’re right, Beyond would still be around for sure if Ka Kui hadn’t died. Ka Kui is Beyond full stop. It’s weird calling the other 3 Beyond without Ka Kui present. This is probably why they all went solo. It didn’t work out.

        Do you know YesAsia? You can buy the book/s from there. It’s online.

        Did you know Ka Keung’s wife is Japanese? I live in Japan by the way. I haven’t gotten back to your other post about teaching in Japan. Sorry about that!

        Are you teaching in the States now? Or are you studying about teaching still?

    • Ok I’m confused now. Does this Beyond’s fan write music? I found some songs written by a fan commemorating Ka Kui, it has 天地 in it and there are 23 songs. Is it the same guy?

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