I grew up with music having a father who was very enthusiastic about music and my uncles who were all rockstars back in their time. It all started with the catchy “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees, but it wasn’t until I came across a disc of Deep Purple’s live performance in Montreal that was lying on top of the old DVD player that I knew I wanted to perform music for a lifetime.
My father started noticing my keen interest in guitars in particular and music in general, so he started teaching me slowly bit by bit whenever he had the time. My uncle also lent me his old electric guitar to me for practice. After just learning a few chords, I started my first band called The Phantoms with my neighbours in Bangalore in 2003-04, which was later on changed to Galaxy Band. We started performing once every year. I was also mentored by the band Swarathma in my early days and they had a major influence in my musical career.
My father majorly played a huge role in my journey as a musician. He was also in many bands before he got married. His journey alone was a remarkable one, but short-lived. He passed away when I was just 10, and never got to see my first performance for school. As heart-breaking and shocking as it was to me, his passing actually pushed me to achieve our dreams – he wanted me to do what he wished he could.
In 2013, my former band, Argos, which was initially known as Argos Evolution, entered the finals in Manipur Rock Festival along with 4 other competitors. We were the youngest band in the state at the time. It was at that moment I gave my thanks to my late father and felt content with what I was doing, knowing he was with me always.
After Argos, I went on to join another band called Dominix as a guitar player and participated in Ougri’s Battle of the Bands in 2015. We prepared for about a month and when the day came, I performed in the style of a death-metal version of Angus Young of AC/DC.
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In the same year, I officially joined my current band The Wishess as rhythm guitarist. However, as time went on, my role changed from rhythm guitarist to Bass player, then finally a lyricist for the band. Not long after, I changed my role again to handling the band’s marketing, touring and song-writing.
My journey as a musician has been eventful and fruitful. I wouldn’t change anything but there were days I was reminded of how my father would bring home an American Fender Strat from his friend for us to jam together, occasionally. I’d play the acoustic guitar and he’d belt off Blues Licks on the Strat. He had wished I’d grow up and we’d perform together.
To the people struggling with the loss of a loved one, I hope to remain a testament that one shouldn’t give up dreaming and achieving goals because our loved ones are always with us in spirit. I hope to be an encouragement to people who have faced loss; in facing loss we should find strength.
In all the stages I have been to, I have carried my father with me. He has always been with me when I touch a guitar, and when I play songs or when I’m doing the things we used to do together. His legacy of music, rock and chords will remain with me because I am his legacy.
Maverick Ayekpam is 22 years old now.