P. Ramlee or Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh born in Pulau Pinang on 22 March 1929. A mediocre student of the Francis Light School and Penang Free School, P. Ramlee shone as a musician and singer in his school days. Using his stage name P. Ramlee, was placed in the top three of the Radio Pulau Pinang singing Competition for three consecutive years from 1945, finally emerging as the champion in 1947.
It was not until 1948 that P. Ramlee’s talent was discovered by B. S. Rajihans, a film director for Shaw Brothers who was impressed by P. Ramlee’s rendition of his own composition Azizah, at a fair in Bukit Mertajam. P. Ramlee was offered as a back-up singer at the Malay Film Production Studios, Jalan Ampas which marked the beginning of the composer’s illustrious career in the world of film.
As an actor P. Ramlee appeared in more than 60 films, and directed closed to 40 films that have gone on to become the great classic of Malay cinema, among them Penarek Becha, Pendekar Bujang Lapok, Ibu Mertuaku dan Madu Tiga.
As a composer P. Ramlee is believed to have composed close to 250 songs, where over 60 of them are now considered timeless evergreen. Quick to absorb and adapt the various Western music styles for the more conservative Malay listeners, P. Ralmee breathed new life into Malay music and its instrumentation. His musical influences also included the widely respected Zubir Said, Osman Ahmad and Yusoff B, while his compositions revolved around both the traditional and the modern music forms.
Among his most notable compositions is Getaran Jiwa from the film Antara Dua Darjat, which caught the attention of American country singer, Lobo, who released an English version of that song. Koko Shimada has also recorded some of his other songs in Japanese.
A star of multiple talents and versatility, which some say till today are unmatched, was the first artiste to be awarded the Ahli Mangku Negara by the Yang DiPertuan Agong in 1962. The legendary actor, singer, comedian, songwriter, screenwriter, film director was laid to rest in Kuala Lumpur in 1973.