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!

31 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?

      • I definitely blame the Japanese TV station for Ka Kui’s death! And to think that if someone had just mopped up the water on the floor, then Ka Kui would not have slipped! Or, if the other guy who had fallen with Ka Kui had not landed on him. It brings me such sadness to think how the other guy survived the accident, but not Ka Kui! It’s crazy to think if one single thing had happened differently, Ka Kui would still be with us!

        I’ve been really longing for his music lately. There’s absolutely no other music that even comes close! I wish someone could find a way, somehow, to resurrect his voice. Would love to see the type of music he’d make in reaction to today’s pop culture, wars, race relations, etc. The fans only have his old music, and it satisfies, but I want more!

        I didn’t know Ka Keung’s wife is Japanese. Wow, I didn’t know you live in Japan! How did you end up there? Btw, what do you think of Ka Kui’s Japanese album?

        And yeah, I completely forgotten that you taught in Japan, so please tell me all about it. I work in finance now, but was considering getting a teaching credential and moving abroad to Hong Kong and China to teach English back in 2012. Those plans are on hold now, though still a possibility in the future.

    • 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?

      • Correct me if I am wrong. Wasnt 天地 originally written as ‘River’ by Ka kui? There’s a demo of this song on youtube. Not sure if it’s true but if not wrong,their manager or soneone sold the demo without notify them.

  4. Hi there !!

    Love to find your blog here. I always love Beyond’s song 你知道我的迷惘 a.k.a 真的愛妳. But i just found out about the late of Wong Ka Kui. All the time i just love the song without knowing that the singer already passed away, and its already 21 years ago. Now, i felt like obsessed by his song, his voice … sexiest voice ever.

    so silly now that i wish he is still a live, and just like you all, wondering how would lives gives him, how would he give lives to musics as he so devoted to it.

    Really … really obsessed and fall in love all over again to his voice, his personality and his ordinary face

    • Hello Eve

      Thank you so much for the message! I’m really glad you’re a fan of Beyond’s music. Those two songs you mentioned are really good! At first I only heard the Cantonese version, then only found out about the Mandarin version later, and they are both really great!

      Wow, so how long have you been a Beyond fan for and how did you first learn about his music? Wong Ka Kui definitely has the most unique voice I’ve ever heard. I miss him greatly!

  5. Hello! Congratulations on this beautiful text. I Love Beyond and am very happy to read good things about it.

    I am Brazilian and I know Beyond recently. But I love this band and mostly, I love Wong Ka Kaui. I was very impressed when I heard the voice of Wong Ka Kui first. I met the band watching the awards, Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards Presentation (1989 年度 十大 勁歌 金曲 頒獎 典禮). This award I first heard the song 真的 愛 你. This song is very beautiful.

    I agree that Wong Ka Kui is one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. And I am very sorry for him not as well known internationally. Unfortunately Westerners have resistance to Chinese. There is this prejudice, unfortunately. This revolt me ​​sometimes. If not for the internet, I would never have known the Beyond.

    I always regret the death of Wong Ka Kui. Even 21 years after his death, I feel very sad about it. And despite this prejudice that Westerners have against Eastern music, I believe that Wong Ka Kui alive, Beyond would have got international recognition because the quality of their music is very high.

    I dream of traveling to Hong Kong and visit the tombstone of Wong Ka Kui. It’s a way to feel close to him.

    excuse me for my bad English. Unfortunately I do not know much English.

    • Ola Barbara! Thank you so much for writing me. I really enjoyed reading your message! It always makes me happy to meet other Beyond fans, as his music should really be enjoyed by EVERYONE regardless of race.

      I’m super impressed that you are from Brazil and that you know and listen to Beyond! 真的 愛 你 is a lovely song and every mother–or woman– should listen to it!

      Yes, it is sad Beyond is not very well known internationally. I wish we had more open minded people who appreciate good music. It is especially sad that Wong Ka Kui had the accident as he was trying to become more international! He would have made it too!

      I definitely suggest you visit Hong Kong. It’s an amazing place for a vacation, and you can pay respect to Wong Ka Kui.

      I’m still amazed you’re from Brazil! How did you first come across his music? What about it did you like even though you did not understand it? Do you have other friends who’re interested in Wong Ka Kui’s music or Asian music in general?

      • I met Beyond over the internet. I am Jackie Chan fan for 13 years. Jackie Chan’s films are always shown on Brazilian TV. Once I became Jackie Chan fan, I became interested in other films of Hong Kong and the Chinese language. After that, then I was curious to hear songs in Chinese. But until then, I did not know that in China there are many Chinese variations. I thought there was only Mandarin. But after researching better, I met the Cantonese language. At first I could not distinguish Cantonese Mandarin. But then I began to realize the difference between the two languages ​​and enjoyed the Cantonese language. I find very beautiful.

        I started looking for songs in Cantonese to hear. I heard several singers like Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Lui Fong, Priscilla Chan, George Lam, etc, but I liked just a few of their songs. None of these singers pass me excitement as Beyond me passes.

        Again, researching Cantonese courses, just finding a posting quoting the Beyond. See here: (http://tabibitosoul.com/2012/11/10/que-tal-aprender-cantones/).
        It was this post that I learned of the existence of Beyond, but until that moment I had not been interested by the band.

        One day I found on YouTube a Chinese music awards 1989 where Beyond wins a prize and sings 真的 愛 你 (https://youtu.be/teamg44wOuk?t=3480). But the program is a bit long when the Beyond appeared, I did not pay much attention, so I did not realize that the music is so good.

        But in November 2014, a virtual friend who also likes the Hong Kong culture, asked me if I liked Beyond and if I could help you find a Beyond music he loved, whose title he did not remember. I managed to find the music that my friend was looking for and decided to listen to it carefully. The music was 光輝歲月 Gwong Fai Seoi Jyut. I was struck by the emotion that Wong Ka-kui demonstrated to sing this song. His voice is very beautiful. It was the voice of Ka-kui that caught my attention initially.

        After that day, I did download the Secret Police 秘密 警察 album and found it very good.

        But it was on April 3, 2015, after a dream I had with Wong Ka-kui, I became really fan. After this dream, I downloaded all their albums and listen all! I love songs from Beyond. Every day more and more taste. I learned to sing the song 再见 理想. I do not sing well, but I like to sing the songs of Beyond.

        I want to buy the original disc Beyond, but unfortunately it is difficult to buy.

        I do not understand Cantonese, but I really like the melody of Beyond music. You can tell that their songs have a strong message. And besides, the Cantonese language is beautiful. One of my dreams is to learn to speak in Cantonese. I started to study a little. I learned some expressions in Cantonese and I memorized some honzi.

        It is very difficult to find a Brazilian who knows Beyond. I only have two virtual friends who like Beyond. Even so, these friends live in very remote areas. I do not know them personally.

        Rescentemente I watched two movies with Beyond: Happy Ghost IV and Beyond’s Diary. Unfortunately Beyond’s Diary did not have subtitles in English or Portuguese, even so, I managed to understand the central idea of ​​the film. I quite liked.

        In my opinion, this is the most amazing performance of Wong Ka-kui. It is sensational: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM0tI-VLFcQ).

        Where are you from? Beyond What music do you like? Do you like Beyond since childhood?

        Thank you for answering me so education and excitement. I was very happy. Beyond talking about makes me very happy! =D
        And once again I’m sorry for my english possible errors.

      • Hello Barbara

        I’m so glad your love of Jackie Chan lead you to an interest in Chinese culture, and ultimately, to Wong Ka Kui and Beyond! These are the types of stories I love–where someone is able to open her mind and reach across those cultural barriers. You definitely have an interest in Asian culture and language, and I admire you for that. How is your studying of Chinese coming along? It’s so exciting you were able to stumble upon Wong Ka Kui. My reason for writing “Wong Ka Kui, Beyond and Chinese Rock and Roll” was to introduce Wong Ka Kui’s music to the world, and to get others talking about his music once again.

        I’m still really impressed that you enjoy Wong Ka Kui’s music, though you do not understand it. 光輝歲月 and the other songs you mentioned are truly powerful that moves people. I’m actually really shocked you also know of 再見理想! That’s a song not many people talk about, but I really love the the lyrics. Plus, it has has one of my favorite lines in it: 一起高呼 Rock’N Roll.

        Beyond’s music hit its pinnacle in the 1990s, a time where some of the greatest rock music was made, but also a time when few listened to international music. Though it’s extremely hard to find non-Chinese fans of Wong Ka Kui, meeting others like you gives me hope. Music, food, and movies are the best ways to bring different cultures together, so here’s to using those elements as a vehicle to open more minds.

        I was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in San Diego. I’ve been a Beyond fan for many, many years. I really enjoy listening to rock music, and hearing Wong Ka Kui and Beyond’s music adds an extra element to my appreciation of the rock and roll genre.

      • Hello Albert!

        Your text is perfect. When I saw the publication of Ka-kui (I was looking through the phone), I was going to sleep, but I found his words so strong, and you expressed so much admiration for Ka-kui, I decided to turn on the computer and write a review. I felt emotion when reading his words. I hope more people to know Wong Ka-kui through your text.

        I study Cantonese through an online course, but I’m finding it a little difficult.

        Today, June 10, is the birthday of Wong Ka-kui. I thought quite in Ka-kui all day. I would love him to be honored.

        再見理想 (zoi gin lei soeng) is not a widely quoted music for the people? Gosh! For me, this is one of the best songs of Beyond!
        “一起 高呼 Rock’n Roll” is the final phrase of the song, is not it? Sonically it’s very good for me, but the meaning I’m not sure. I did a little research and saw that goes something like “Shouted together,” right?

        Today I heard much music 昔日舞曲 (sik yat mou kuk). I’m curious to know what this song says. It was composed and written by Ka-kui? I think a very good song to listen to.

        The music 交織千個心 appears that says something against war, am I right? I saw an MV of this song, a version sung by Sam Hui. I find this very beautiful music.
        This song has something to do with the Tiananmen Square Massacre? Is it some kind of protest? I would like to know something about it.

      • Hi Barbara, yes I really admire Wong Ka Kui! I really hope more people will get a chance to listen to his music. His music is too deep and beautiful to be missed out on by non-Chinese speakers.

        再見理想 is one of my favorite songs from Beyond, but it’s not one of Ka Kui’s more popular songs. I still think “一起 高呼 Rock ’n Roll” is one of the greatest lines in all of music! You’re correct, the phrase is directly translated as “together, shout out Rock ‘n Roll”, but I just translate it as “Everyone shout out Rock ‘n Roll”.

        昔日舞曲 (Yesterday’s Dance Music) I’m assuming was written and composed by Ka Kui. I’m not a super big fan of it, but it’s still a good song. I’m not very good at translating Chinese songs but 交織千個心 means to unite a thousand hearts, so I can see how it can be related to Tianamen Square.

        I’ve heard 交織千個心 before, but I just listened to Sam Hui and Beyond’s version and wow, it’s a great song! I would also like to try to decipher the meaning and find a translation of the song as it sounds very touching.

  6. Fan of beyond since “Hui se gui ji” released as Andy Lau’s Movie soundtrack. (Blood of Romance)
    Hoi fut tin hung,
    Gwong fai sui yuet,
    Jan dik oi nei,
    Hei foon nei,

    So great

  7. I miss Ka Kui, can’t stop thinking about him again. I’ve been watching Beyond 放暑假 for the past few nights. So hilarious! Have you seen it? By the way, Beyond, the History Volume 3 is already out.

  8. Wong ka kui what a legend, he’s so talented and gracious. He also show concern to the folks who live in poverty, he provide them spiritual support through his meaningful musics. His voice is so unique and attractive, which is one of the reason why i want to know more about this singer, although he died unexpectedly, but i certainly believe that his spiritual and ideology will last forever deeply down in our heart. wong ka kui wasn’t dead, he always live in our heart…spiritually.

    • Hello, thank you for your response. I completely agree with your thoughts about Wong Ka Kui! He’s legendary in music and his spirit lives on. Ka Kui fought for freedom, equality, and peace. His ideals made him great!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s