Music History

Reviving the Rock’n’Roll of Cambodia

It’s been a long time since “Cambodia” and “rock’n’roll” have been used together in a sentence. When the genocidal thugs of the Khmer Rouge overran the country in 1975, they did their very best to stomp out anything in the country that didn’t meet their political, social and philosophical view. The cities were empty in favour of disastrous agrarian reform. Millions died in the notorious Killing Fields and within the walls of Tuol Seng, the horrific prison and torture centre. (I’ve been there. Words cannot describe its inhumanity.)

But back to rock. Before the Khmer Rouge too power, Cambodia had a lively music scene. But as much as authorities tried to obliterate this part of the culture, they couldn’t kill it.  It was terribly, terribly wounded, but after more than 30 years, it’s starting to feel better. There’s something of a renaissance in Cambodian rock’n’roll.

Documenting everything is a new film called Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll.  The New York Times has a full story on it. But first, watch the trailer.

Here are some samples of what it used to be like before the KR moved it.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38043 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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