The duo’s hits through the 1980s are among Tamil cinema’s finest productions.

Singer SP Balasubrahmanyan along with his friend and music director IlaiyaraajaFile photo
news SPB Saturday, September 26, 2020 - 20:10

“I have been singing for 30 years. I have sung with every music director in India. When a line comes, I definitely know how it will progress. But with you, I cannot catch it. You will go somewhere else. It is really amazing, Raja. I'm not saying this for the camera or to be modest. Very blessed person. One of the greatest music directors ever that this country has found out.”

These are words with which legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam described his long-time friend, collaborator and music maestro Ilaiyaraaja in a rare one-on-one interview between the two music doyens. From their association singing on touring stage shows beginning in the 1970s to reaching the heights of success in the decades thereon, SPB and Ilaiyaraaja enthralled audiences. Where the composing genius set the framework for music that would last forever, the other’s soulful voice brought it to life, weaving magic with its ebbs and flows. 

Whether it was a lovelorn hero lamenting over unrequited love or a young couple discovering love on the bus or a widower trying to impress his new-found love, SPB breathed music into the genius of Ilaiyaraaja who captured every aspect of life. The duo’s hits through the 1980s are among Tamil cinema’s finest productions. 

Over the years, SPB and Ilaiyaraaja's live performances across the globe gave music lovers the chance to see their brilliance live, as opposed to the recording studios. The two men, wooing each other, bantering and waxing eloquent about the role each other has played in their respective lives, put a human side to the profundity of their music.

Their television appearances, shared and re-shared multiple times across social media, served to induct a whole new generation into their cult. From grandparents to parents to children to grandchildren, SPB and Ilaiyaraaja's combination nabbed the hearts of millions of fans with the sheer force of their music and their love for it.

With the passing of the singer, countless music fans across the world have been reminiscing his association with the ace music composer. Here are a few evergreen songs and live moments of the duo:

Summing up their decades of association, where SPB says, “I was born for him and he was born for me.”

When SPB sang to Ilaiyaraaja with the maestro's iconic Nayakan composition:

SPB singing the duo's classic hit 'Ilaya Nila' at a stage show in Singapore:

When SPB gushed about Ilaiyaraaja who humbly shrugged it off:

Perhaps the last collaboration of the duo:


On Friday, Ilaiyaraaja, who was devastated by the death of his friend and singing legend SPB, said that he was in limitless sorrow. 


Read: Where have you gone, Balu?: Ilaiyaraaja mourns death of friend and singer SPB

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