There's so much to write about Leslie that it's hard to
put all down in words. 46 years of life is not a short period and
there's no way one can best and fully document Leslie's life
story except the man himself. However, there are definitely some
milestones in Leslie's life that I feel are most memorable and
had left a very deep impression in me. So let me start with the
I wasn't even born yet when Leslie came into the entertainment industry after winning the first runner-up title in a singing competition. He was very much a fresh rookie and inexperienced in the way the entertainment industry worked. It wasn't a smooth road to success for Leslie. He had been booed at when he performed on stage; he had been misunderstood several times due to his straightforward personality. Leslie had earmarked this period as the time where he still had a 'chicken voice', a reference to his powerless and high-pitched singing vocal.
It was the year Leslie first tasted sweet success after eight years of hardship in the industry. He was finally being accepted by the picky public as he had beautifully and skillfully sung the song, 'Wind Continues To Blow'. His singing skills had improved tremendously, able to go through a repertoire of songs with ease and confidence. Finally, his hard work had paid off, and there was no turning back for him... until...
By this time, Leslie's singing skills had progressed to a higher level and he sounded so good, so professional. Thus, it really came as a shock to the music industry, especially his fans that he announced that the 1989 concerts would be his farewell concerts. No one really knew why he had made such a decision until some time later, he revealed that he had received offerings for the dead during the past years. One can only imagine how uneasy and upset he must have felt to receive such things... In that concert, he had not bothered to hide his sadness and had openly shed tears while singing his renowned song 'Wind Continues To Blow' I too cried with him when I saw that. It is hard to let go of some things which you have worked so hard for... And Leslie had to go through that pain.
During these years, Leslie had taken things at a slow pace, resting in Canada where he had a very carefree life. Besides enjoying his carefree life in Canada, he had also done another of his favourite activity: acting. He had acted in twenty-two movies in these seven years, among which he was more widely recognized for his roles in 'Days of Being Wild' (which he has won the title of 'Best Actor' in Hong Kong's equivalent to the Oscar Awards), and in 'Farewell My Concubine' (which catapulted him to international fame). That period must be one of his happiest days...
Leslie made a comeback in the music industry, with a much more powerful vocal! That must have thrilled his fans for they had been waiting for Leslie to sing again. Of course, he had been criticized for going against his words that he would never sing again when he had his farewell concert in 1989. I would say that these people should be grateful that they could hear Leslie sing again. Two years later, Leslie held his first concert in Hong Kong Coliseum after eight years of 'retirement'. Oh yeah, Leslie still looked great at the age of fourty. In fact, I simply loved how he looked on the album cover of his comeback album, 'Fondness' --- so blissful and innocent.
This was the year which Leslie had suffered the most. He was badly and unjustly criticized by the media and critics for his Passion Tour concerts. His Passion Tour concerts had been deemed by the Hong Kong critics as being a X-rated performance, what with him donning a skirt and sporting long hair. They failed to take into consideration that this was altogether a totally different standard set for future concert performances: it has progressed to offer the best visual and audio presentations, with a perfect blend of stage costumes and stage settings. Not many people seemed to appreciate the hard work he had put in for this Passion Tours except his fans, friends, family members and his concert crew. He had taken the critics' bad remarks on his Passion Tour concerts to his heart so much so that he started to suffer signs of Depression...
Leslie delivered yet another splendid performance in his role as a psychologist in the movie, 'Inner Senses'. Rumours had it that Leslie had gotten too engrossed in this role and was unable to pull himself out of this role. There were also rumours about him being possessed by dead spirits. Although Leslie never really admitted that he suffered from Depression, it had became apparent to some of his close friends that he had the telltale signs of Depression. And with the influx of acid from his stomach to his throat affecting his vocal cords, it had brought a tremendous blow to Leslie, the perfectionist, as he felt that he wasn't able to sing as well as he could in the past. This had definitely aggravated his condition.
The final straw came on April 1, 2003. Leslie must have decided that he had enough and had taken the final plunge of his glorious fourty-six years of life from the 24th storey of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, Hong Kong. His last words had struck a painful chord in all his family members, friends, fans, and the general public: "I had done nothing wrong in this life. Why must it be like this?" This sentence was enough to let the whole world know how traumatized he must have felt, right up to the last few seconds of his entire life. With his plunge, he had not only taken his own life away, he had also taken the hearts of many people with him...
Leslie, you had made this world beautiful with your existence. We had not only lost a beautiful voice, we had lost you, as a wonderful person. Life still goes on, but it will never be the same without you. May you rest in eternal peace
- Ziares Chan from Singapore