The Filipino music scene says good-bye to another iconic musician as rock legend Jose William Feliciano “Pepe” Smith passed away on Monday, Jan. 28, as confirmed by his daughter Daisy Smith-Owen. Pepe Smith was 71 years old.
Smith suffered a stroke that left him with speech impairment several years ago. On the morning of his passing, Smith was rushed to the hospital.
In 1970, Smith joined the rock band Juan dela Cruz Band as a vocalist and drummer along with Wally Gonzales and Mike Hanopol (the most recognized lineup of the band). Take a look back at some of Pepe Smith’s most memorable moments and songs:
Rolling Stones influence
Before being a part of the Juan dela Cruz Band, Smith was part of Eddie Reyes and the Downbeats as a drummer and vocalist, and the band gained popularity for its Rolling Stones covers – and Smith imitating Mick Jagger. Fun fact, when the Beatles visited the Philippines in 1966, the Downbeats opened their concert with the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off Of My Cloud”.
“Beep Beep” is one of the Juan dela Cruz Band’s more well-known songs today, and was released shortly after Pepe Smith joined to formed the formidable trio of Smith, Gonzales, and Hanopol. The band’s name was an apt reference for the most common name in the Philippines, and a representation of the common man. The band set the stage for Pinoy rock, with Smith continuing his “Mick Jagger” image.
Arguably Pepe Smith’s most popular song is “Himig Natin”, which was released with the album of the same name by the Juan dela Cruz Band. As a rock anthem, many other artists made their own covers of the songs, while the dynamic trio themselves continued playing “Himig Natin” at concerts through the years.
In 2005, Smith released a solo album entitled Idiosyncrasies, of which the 14 songs he produced and wrote himself for three years. Some of the lovely tunes found in the album are “Eto Na Ako!” and “Ihip Ng Hangin”, the latter which you can hear above. Whether part of a band or as a soloist, it cannot be denied that Pepe Smith is one of the country’s most iconic performers, and he will truly be missed.
A version of this story was posted on Manila Bulletin Entertainment.