Filed under: Indonesia
Dara Puspita (Flower Girls) was Indonesia’s most successful girl band of the 1960s. While there were many popular female vocalists in Indonesia at that time, they nearly all relied on the services of a backing band. Dara Puspita was one of the few girl groups who actually played all their own music as well. Comprising Susi Nander (the drummer, who was featured on the cover of this single), Titiek Hamzah, and sisters Titiek A.R., and Lies A.R., they formed in 1964, after being inspired by ‘The Beatles‘ sound. With all of them still in their late teens, they initially faced parental objections, but soon won them over. Apparently, when on stage, these girls had the habit of jumping up and down while shouting, such that their lyrics were often inaudible.
Because their style was referred to as “A Go-Go” or “Twist” it was considerably unusual then, they hit the top seat and became pop icons among young people in the blink of an eye at that time. In 1966, they had performed in Bangkok before they made their debut in Indonesia, and you can listen to some works based on their memories of Bangkok in their first and second albums.
Dara Puspita started on a journey to perform in Europe immediately after they released their 4th album. They kept touring in many countries such as Iran in the Middle East, West Germany, Turkey, Hungary and other countries for 1 year and 3 months. Until they came back to Indonesia in October, 1969, they performed 250 concerts held in 70 cities total.
Collin Johnson, who was an initial manager of the Beatles, just appeared in front of them in those days. At Collin’s request, they went to Britain at once and debuted with “Welcome To My House/I Believe In Love,” but it did not become a hit. 2nd EP “”Ba Da Ba Dum/Dream Stealer” did not become a hit, either. Drummer Susy Nander looks back at that time, saying “No one will be sure to buy the record of the unnamed female band like us”.
In concerts held in Britain, they mostly performed as an opening act for top groups such as Uriah Heep and Shocking Blue. They also toured to France, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands. They were very welcomed in the Netherlands. Everyone seems to have cried when they performed a song “Surabaja” from their first album. (It could be because Indonesia was a colony in the Netherlands for 360 years.) One single phonograph record put on the market in the Netherlands included an English version of “Sjurabaja” as A-side and “Cabaleuro” as B-side, which were the most popular at their concert.
Afterwards, they returned home to Indonesia, the triumphant return performance of the stadium class was done, and their popularity faced its peak. I still remember that in the concert, Titik Hamzah who was the bassist and the chairperson said honestly “We debuted in foreign countries, but we failed…” while talking about the story of life in foreign countries. When I heard her sincere comment toward her experience, I felt like assisting them more and more.
Later, Titik Hamzah told me that dissolution already seems to have come out in Dara Puspita before they returned to Indonesia even though it was made secret. Actually, the idea of dissolution was from her, Titik Hamzah, who was the most talented of the four. While the other 3 members said “Let’s continue because we are still popular,” Titik insisted “It is boring to keep playing songs by others. We should dissolve our band while we are popular.” Finally, as a result of the fact that the other 3 members couldn’t persuade Titik, dissolution was announced from their mouths on the final day of their triumphant return concert. Even though there had been a rumor of dissolution, the impact was still huge and all of the fans felt sad when we heard it…
After years, Titik A.R, the lead guitarist of the band, formed a reunion band with the original drummer Susy Nander, a new bassist Judith and a keybordist Dora Sahertian.(I believe they released an album with these members). Neither Titik Hamzah nor Lies A.R participated in this reunion because they had already married.
Titik Hamzah, who had never forgotten to sing, returned to the scene later. She released 2 albums with drummer Susy Nander until it dissolved. The sound of this newborn Dara Puspita by Titik and Susy was different from the original Dara Puspita. In these records, they tried to play various genres of music together. “There was no will to make hit-songs then. I just wanted to show my zeal to music.” said Titik Hamzah afterwords…
By the way, the original 4 albums of Dara Puspita were released only in record format not even in cassette format. There have been no re-issued versions so far. According to Titik Hamzah, once, the father of Titik A.R. and Lies A.R. tried to reissue them as cassettes, but it didn’t go well (Or Titik Hamzah refused) because there were a bunch of problems related to copyright. Therefore, it is very difficult to obtain Dara Puspita’s four original albums currently.
Catalog number BT-107 on Bintang records. No release date listed.