MANILA, Philippines – Joey “Pepe” Smith’s is a voice that generations – literally, generations – of Filipinos have grown up listening to, whether they were aware of it or not. When it comes to Smith, “Filipino rock legend” isn’t an exaggeration – it’s a statement of fact.
The 71-year-old rocked his last on Monday, January 28, leaving behind a wealth of music, memories, and stories for all sorts of Filipino music fans.
Smith was once hailed “the Mick Jagger of the Philippines” during his stint as vocalist and drummer for the band Eddie Reyes and The Downbeats. The band opened for The Beatles, which fronted The Beatles at their infamous 1966 Manila concert.
Smith’s status as a rock icon was cemented when he joined the Juan de la Cruz Band as vocalist and drummer, alongside guitarist Wally Gonzalez and bassist Mike Hanopol.
Together, the trio would be known as the classic Juan de la Cruz Band lineup, producing songs such as “Balong Malalim,” “Rock and Roll sa Ulan,” and “Himig Natin,” considered by many to be a Filipino rock anthem.
For the uninitiated, here’s a live performance of “Himig Natin”:
He has also had a successful solo career, and was active in the music industry until his death.
Recent years saw Smith’s health deteriorating. He was suffered his third stroke in November 2017, and was rushed to the Metro Antipolo Hospital after his manager noticed that his facial muscles were involuntarily drooping.
The stroke was not able to faze the rockstar in Smith – a few months later, he headlined the Pepe Smith Rockfest, playing with other OPM bands in June, though not without controversy, as the event’s producer Mark de Leon failed to pay Smith, the talents, and suppliers for the event.
Smith leaves behind his 5 children: daughters Queenie, Sanya, and Desiderata, and sons Beebop, and Delta. – Rappler.com