Renowned Malaysian drummer and exceptional percussionist, Lewis Pragasam, has regrettably passed away at the age of 66. An announcement on his official Facebook fan page conveyed the news, stating that he succumbed at 3 a.m. today at a private hospital.
The talented musician reportedly collapsed around 9 p.m. while performing in the “Music of Christmas” concert at Good Shepherd Assembly of God. At this event, he had performed with three fellow jazz musicians. This past Saturday, he also graced the stage at the Eco Drum Jam hosted at Plaza Shah Alam, engaging in a session with aspiring young percussion enthusiasts.
Lewis Pragasam was widely regarded as one of the most esteemed percussionists in Asia, recognized as a pioneer in seamlessly merging Asian and Western musical traditions. In 1979, he established the Asiabeat project, a musical endeavor that has since achieved legendary status for its distinctive fusion of diverse musical styles.
His collaborations with acclaimed artists such as Paul Jackson and Tony Levin, coupled with his noteworthy performances at prestigious international festivals, including a notable appearance for King Charles III, served to underscore his global acclaim and solidify his reputation as a trailblazer in the realm of music.
Lewis Pragasam articulated his aspiration to raise awareness and impart enlightenment to the public regarding the remarkable yet often overlooked or underappreciated cultural richness. Taking his innovative concept and musical ensemble on a global journey, he embarked on extensive tours across nearly every continent, leaving a significant impact on some of the world’s most prestigious jazz and world music festivals. His outstanding contributions led to the prestigious recognition of a Fulbright Scholarship, which marked the beginning of his role as an artist in residence at East Carolina University, where he shared his expertise through teaching.
The seasoned musician was actively involved in crafting drums using eco-friendly materials, showcasing his commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in the realm of percussion instrument production. His dedication to utilizing materials that are both harmonious with nature and contribute to minimizing environmental impact reflected his broader ethos of responsible artistry.
Lewis Pragasam’s remarkable legacy in the realm of music is characterized by his tireless efforts to bridge cultural divides and shed light on the richness of underappreciated traditions. Through his innovative projects, global tours, and impactful performances at renowned festivals, he not only showcased his extraordinary talent but also became a cultural ambassador, fostering a deeper appreciation for diverse musical expressions worldwide. Lewis Pragasam’s passing at the age of 66 is an immense loss to the world of music, leaving behind a void that resonates deeply. As we reflect on his extraordinary contributions, may he rest in peace, his legacy forever echoing in the hearts of those touched by his artistry.