With the passing away of Amit Saigal on January 5 (aged 46) in a drowning accident in Goa, the rock community has truly lost a friend. Amit used to strum a guitar occasionally, but was better known as an impresario who helped redraw the music map of young India. In the heady ’60s and ’70s there was the Junior Statesman—launched in 1965—from Calcutta which featured musicians and rock fests (both Indian and international) and gave music a push. After it folded up, came the ’80s, when music reached a dead end. Of course, there were some exceptions of musicians bringing out albums of their own compositions. But, in the main, many groups were reduced to playing a handful of college gigs and then calling it quits. So, several enthusiastic men and women gave up their first passion for more conventional jobs. Others played covers of Hotel California and Cocaine in restaurants. It was very few who saw Rock as a viable career option.
It was into this milieu that Amit first plunged in with his Rock Street Journal (RSJ) in the early ’90s. Driven by an unbelievable commitment and passion for music, he and his team began featuring upcoming local bands as well as reviewing albums of path-breaking international acts. The sceptics did not see the magazine going very far. But Amit was always brimming with optimism. He saw a rock band playing, lights and all, at the end of the tunnel.