Hong Kong's ‘father of concerts’ Cheung Yiu-wing dies
Pioneering promoter made legends out of singers and brought a whole new energy and style to the Hong Kong entertainment business
Stuart Lau and Vivienne Chow
The city's "father of concerts", Cheung Yiu-wing, died yesterday aged 82. He was the man behind more than 1,000 stage shows featuring the city's most popular singers which still define many Hongkongers' collective entertainment memories.
The pioneering concert promoter is acclaimed among showbiz insiders for his bravery in partnering with rising stars and achieving exceptional success in the business for many decades.
Late stars such as Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing and Anita Mui Yim-fong, as well as four living legends of the 1990s - Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, Leon Lai Ming and Andy Lau Tak-wah - all had productions with Yiu Wing Entertainment, the enterprise created by Cheung Yiu-wing in the '80s after decades in the construction business.
"During that time the business wasn't too prosperous. There were few production firms for concerts," recalled Katie Chan, now a manager for big names Faye Wong and Eason Chan Yik-shun.
"After Uncle Yiu-wing got into the field, he brought a new level of vigour to the industry," she said.
Florence Chan Suk-fan, another celebrity manager who knew Cheung for three decades and was a former business partner of his, said she had been at a dinner with him only six hours before his death.
"Mr Cheung talked cheerfully and humorously about the old days," she said.
Chan praised Cheung's willingness to put money and energy into supporting all kinds of performance, regardless of success or failure. "Throughout all these years, he nurtured countless legendary stars, as well as Hong Kong's concert business," she said. One of Cheung's most celebrated projects was Anita Mui's last concert - a few months before her death from cancer in 2003 at the age of 40. She appeared for the final number in a wedding dress, knowing her dreams of getting married would never come true.
"Mui always dreamt of wearing a wedding dress, so I arranged this performance," Cheung once told media.
Critic Chip Tsao believed the death of Cheung signified an "end of an era". Cheung was a musical guru and cultivated a new culture of concerts through a comprehensive management system of sight and sound, he added.
In 2007, Cheung was declared bankrupt for failing to settle HK$1 million in fees owed to a law firm. Nevertheless, he remained active in organising concerts, the last one by veteran Taiwanese singer Yu Ya last month.
Cheung was found unconscious at his home in Luso Apartments, Warwick Road, Kowloon Tong, at about 3.30am. He was pronounced dead at Kwong Wah Hospital, Yau Ma Tei, just after 4am. He is survived by his wife, 78, and two children.