Children’s songs icon Papa T Bob dies at 59

Indonesian children’s songs icon Erwanda Lukas AKA Papa T Bob pictured in 2017. He passed away on Friday, July 10, at the age of 59. Photo: Instagram/papatbob_official
Indonesian children’s songs icon Erwanda Lukas AKA Papa T Bob pictured in 2017. He passed away on Friday, July 10, at the age of 59. Photo: Instagram/papatbob_official

Papa T Bob, the man behind the songs of our childhood (for those of us who grew up in the ‘90s, anyway), sadly passed away this afternoon at the age of 59. 

News of the songwriter’s death was confirmed by his son, T Bob Vargo, who said that he died at home. According to reports, Papa T Bob was hospitalized earlier this year for diabetes, and his family will bury him at a cemetery in Bintaro, South Jakarta. 

Born Erwanda Lukas on Oct 22, 1960, Papa T Bob adopted his stage name to signify that he was the father of his son. His professional career in the music industry began in 1979, but he gained fame after writing his first children’s song titled Semut Semut Kecil (Little Ants) in the late ‘80s, which turned into a hit.

Papa T Bob’s career skyrocketed in the ‘90s, during which he wrote songs for popular child singers at the time such as Eno Lerian’s Du Di Dam, Susan Punya Cita-cita (Susan has Dreams) performed by Ria Enes (the ventriloquist) and Susan (her doll), Trio Kwek Kwek’s Tanteku (My Aunt) and Katanya (What People Said).

Other popular songs include Joshua Suherman’s Air (Water) ⁠— which is still popularly known as “Diobok-obok” from the lyrics ⁠— as well as Bolo-bolo, performed by child singer-turned-politician Agustina Hermanto AKA Tina Toon.

Papa T Bob had reportedly written over 200 children’s songs from ‘89 to ‘98. He was known for his rather unconventional method of songwriting, including having to meet the child singers in person to compose songs fitting of their personalities. 

“As an example, when Joshua was about to take vocals, Air only had the melody but the lyrics were not yet written. Joshua came up with ‘diobok-obok’ when he was playing with water leaking from the AC in the studio, which I immediately adapted into the lyrics of Air,he said during an interview with Kompas in 1998.

Thank you for the music of our childhood, Papa T Bob. To celebrate his life, let’s jump back into the ‘90s to honor the man who created our favorite children’s songs:

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