The Arts

Guruh Soekarno

Guruh Soekarno

Before his career in politics, Guruh Soekarno’s work in the field of traditional Indonesian music and dance invigorated the cultural landscape, leaving a lasting impact that remains relevant to this day


As the youngest son of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno, Guruh Soekarno (born Muhammad Guruh Irianto Soekarnoputra) could have taken a straight and easy path to politics, except that he had other plans. After finishing his archaeology studies at the University of Amsterdam, in 1965 the young Soekarno formed a band called The Beat-G. The group’s one and only long-player, Guruh Gipsy (1977), recorded with collaborators including renowned songwriter Chrisye, was a ground-breaking album that combined Indonesia’s traditional gamelan sounds with rock instrumentation.

Music was just part of the young Soekarno’s expansive oeuvre, which includes acting stints, collaborative albums, choreography, concert productions and pop compositions. In 1991, the French government bestowed him the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, in recognition of his work as a champion of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. After that, Soekarno finally entered politics.

He continued to perform throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s and played minor film roles. Until today, Indonesia’s youth showed appreciation for Soekarno’s priceless contribution with an album to honour their cultural hero.

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Did you know?

Guruh Gipsy was voted by Rolling Stone Indonesia as the second-best Indonesian album of all time.

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