PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

Born to Korean parents, Cui Jian began learning the classical trumpet at age 14, and won a place in the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) by 20. But, inspired by western artists such as Simon and Garfunkel and John Denver, he turned to the guitar.

In 1984, he formed Seven Plyboard with six other classical musicians, and they performed covers of English-language songs in small restaurants in Beijing.

The next year, he got his first taste of fame when he won a singing contest. And in 1986, he shot to stardom after performing his single, I Have Nothing, dressed in peasant clothing at a concert to commemorate the Year of World Peace.

The next year, Cui quit his job at the BPO and began work on his debut album, Rock'n'Roll on the New Long March, which featured a string of angry hits.

In 1989, I Have Nothing became the anthem of the Tiananmen Square protesters. Cui was forced to cancel several concerts after the June 4 crackdown. And his 1990 national tour was called off halfway through.

After releasing his second album, Solution, in 1991, Cui collaborated with director Zhang Yuan to co-produce an experimental movie, Beijing Bastards (1993). Cui starred in the film, playing an underground rock musician.

His third album, Balls Under the Red Flag followed in 1994. He took the songs on a tour of Japan, and the next year made his first US appearances.

In 1998, Cui released a digital album, The Power of Powerless, before taking to the road for four solid years. In 2001, he co-produced the dance musical Show Your Colours with filmmaker Zhang and Hong Kong's City Contemporary Dance Company. Last year, Cui released his first record in seven years, Show You Colour.