Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thoughts on Jonathan Lee

Jonathan Lee is a talented, business savvy musician who is often described by people using words like “respected”, and “a legend.” For over 20 years due to his skill, ability, and uncompromising dedication to producing solid music, Jonathan has made himself one of the most well known music industry figures in Greater China (mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore). Jonathan has worked hard to gain the respect and the reputation he enjoys today and has become known throughout the region as “Big Brother”. Although not as well known in North America, it would be difficult to find a person in the Chinese-speaking world who hasn’t heard of Jonathan Lee.

Artist, musician, writer, and producer, Jonathan Lee is all of these and more. As an artist and musician he is famous for his innovative acoustic guitar-playing and soft melodies. As a writer he is known for his creative lyrics, and as a producer he is respected for producing hit songs that maintain their popularity.

Being one of the most famous producers in Asia also means being one of the busiest. In addition to setting up his own production company, (Promise Productions & Studios due to open early next year), he is still filling his role at Taiwan’s Rock Records as their main producer of hit songs. To date, Jonathan has arranged and produced over one thousand tunes both locally and regionally. In just the last 16 years, besides producing his own eight albums, this 42-year-old guitarist/writer/producer, has written and produced songs for many famous Chinese artists. A small list includes: Jackie Chan, Sandy Lam, Karen Mok, CoCo Lee, and so on and so on. It’s no surprise he has become the most sort-after arranger for taking a tune and making it into a hit. Yet despite all his projects and other duties, Jonathan still finds time to go on the road and sing with other artists during tours or concerts.

This was from a document I wrote for Jonathan in December, 2000.

I met Jonathan initially through Kate's friend, Chrissy (Jonathan's assistant).

Back then one of the first things I observed was that music people would act differently around Jonathan. Compared to Taiwanese in the IT industry, on the whole, music industry people are outspoken, opinionated, and outgoing. However, around Jonathan people would become serious, subdued, and somewhat submissive. Since I didn't know better, I was quite direct with him, which actually I think he appreciated.

To use an old cliche, Jonathan has got to be the hardest working man in the music industry. A perfect example is the concert Saturday night. I'm sure they already had a full day of rehearsals, then he was on stage for 3+ hours. After that interviews until 2:30 AM, and then he was signing autographs for crew members and other "VIPs". Remember he's in his mid to late 40's. Unbelievable!

Unfortunately I don't see Jonathan as much as I did in those days when we were meeting several times a month to discuss projects. However, despite whatever else he's doing, every year since I've known him he's generously invited our family to their year-end company party.

During the concert Jonathan kept referring to himself as "Little Lee" and giving credit to those that have supported him throughout his career. He said "if I've walked 10 kilometers, then they've walked 100."


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