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Veteran DJ X’Ho dies ‘forever 27’, remembered as an ‘encyclopedia of music’ that shaped Singapore’s music scene

SINGAPORE — In early July, Gold 905 deejay Chris Ho went to his long-time friend John Klass’ house to help him produce an electronic dance music track. Days later, Ho was admitted to hospital and “never came out”, Mr Klass said.

Veteran DJ X’Ho dies ‘forever 27’, remembered as an ‘encyclopedia of music’ that shaped Singapore’s music scene
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  • Chris Ho died on Sept 27 due to stomach cancer
  • He was admitted to the hospital on July 7
  • Friends and colleagues said Ho’s decades-long career has been pivotal in shaping the music scene in Singapore
  • Ho is survived by an elderly mother


SINGAPORE — In early July, Gold 905 deejay Chris Ho went to his long-time friend John Klass’ house to help him produce an electronic dance music track. Days later, Ho was admitted to hospital and “never came out”, Mr Klass said.

Ho was admitted into the National University Hospital (NUH) on July 7, and later diagnosed with stomach cancer.

“No one saw it coming,” Mr Klass said. The 51-year-old singer and deejay was at Ho’s bedside when the icon of Singapore’s indie music scene died on Monday (Sept 27) morning.

“He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He was shocked, and so were we,” Mr Klass added.

Mr Klass, who is a Class 95FM deejay, is helping to organise his friend’s funeral arrangements. They have known each other since the 1990s when they were working at Rediffusion, Singapore’s first cable radio station.

Mr Klass said that few knew about Ho’s battle with cancer beyond a small circle of friends, because Ho had wanted to keep it a private matter.

Ho, who is more commonly known as X’Ho, was famously secretive about his age.

He was estimated to be in his 60s. In his 1998 book, Skew Me, You Rebel Meh?, he wrote that he wanted his obituary to read “X’Ho. Age: Forever 27 (the real age is none of anyone’s business)”.

Despite going for four rounds of chemotherapy, Mr Klass said that doctors at NUH told him last Monday that “nothing was working” and that the cancer cells had aggressively overtaken his stomach and shut it down.

Mr Klass said that he and his wife were able to visit Ho last Friday.

“He was still lucid… we tried to talk about things, joke and laugh to lighten the mood,” he said, though he added that Ho was unable to say very much as he was feeling very weak.

On Sunday night, Mr Klass and his wife rushed down with three other former colleagues from Rediffusion after they were informed by doctors that “he might not last the night”.

Ho took his final breath at 4.37am, Mr Klass said. He is survived by an elderly mother.


Ho, who joined Mediacorp in 1993 and last helmed Gold 905's Homestretch radio programme on weekday evenings before he was hospitalised, had a varied career in the music industry that has spanned several decades.

Before joining Gold 905, he was a familiar voice on Rediffusion, Lush 99.5, Perfect 10 98.7FM and Radio Singapore International.

Beyond his career as a radio DJ, he was also involved in several bands including Zircon Lounge — an outfit formed in the 1980s that was credited with pioneering the new wave scene in Singapore.

Ho was also known for his career as a club DJ and a writer. Aside from being the author of Skew Me, You Rebel Meh?, he was a columnist for publications such as national daily The Straits Times and the defunct music magazine BigO.

In 1998, he received the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) Artistic Excellence Award.

Ms Cornelia Chow, the programme director for Gold 905, said that Ho was “one of the most affable, endearing, kindest and sweetest souls” she had the pleasure of knowing.

“He was always willing to lend a listening ear and in the years that I’ve known him, I had never once seen him lose his temper or spoke ill of anyone,” the 44-year-old said.

Ms Chow, who has known Ho since he was a DJ at Perfect 10, said that she was initially intimidated by Ho’s array of tattoos, but was surprised by how friendly he was when he introduced himself to her.

Singer and composer Dick Lee, 65, said that Ho was an essential part of Singapore’s music industry, and he will always be remembered as a maverick and champion of the alternative scene.

Agreeing, Ms Vanessa Fernandez, the former programme director of Lush 99.5, said that Ho was “always pushing the scene ahead as a DJ by playing what was cool before it was mainstream”.

“From his time at Rediffusion programming punk, new wave, alternative rock, to his time at 98.7 FM purveying nu-groove and future beats… No one on radio was as eloquently original,” the 39-year-old said.

Mr Patrick Chng, the 53-year-old frontman of The Oddfellows, one of Singapore’s pioneering indie bands, said that Ho was very much a source of inspiration for him.

“Growing up, I looked forward to reading articles from him, which led me to discover bands like REM and U2,” Mr Chng, who is also an educator, said.

He added that he was drawn in by the “lifestyle” Ho had created for the Singapore music scene, and credits it as the reason he still performs today.

Ms Suzanne Walker, who fronted Zircon Gov. Pawn Starz — an electroclash reincarnation by Ho of Zircon Lounge — in 2003, said that she remembered Ho teaching her about Buddhist philosophy.

“He was very progressive about being true to oneself,” the 50-year-old said. She is now the deputy director of strategic communications at the National Youth Council.

“He used to tell me to accept the good with the bad. If I want something, I should be prepared to go for it, but also be ready to accept the areas where I don’t invest my energies in,” she said, adding that they were important life lessons for her.

As for Mr Klass, he remembers Ho as an “encyclopedia for music” who was always sharing his knowledge with his family.

“He was an avant-garde music lover who was always picking out stuff I’ve never even heard of, and we will have conversations about it,” Mr Klass said, adding that his 21-year-old daughter had been learning about Americana musician Emmy Lou Harris and folk artist Joni Mitchell from him.

Ho had also persuaded Mr Klass during their dinner in June to produce an electronic dance music track.

Mr Klass, who was not familiar with the genre, told Ho to help him with it.

“We finished it within a week. He came to my house on Saturday, we finished that song on Sunday and on Wednesday, he went into the hospital and never came out,” he said.

“I thanked him last night for giving me that parting gift… it was something that he's always wanted me to do and we finally got it done.”

Mr Klass sang to his friend before he passed on.

A wake will be held for Ho at the Singapore Casket’s Ruby Room from Monday to Thursday.

He will be cremated after his funeral on Friday at the Mandai Crematorium.

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Chris Ho death cancer radio deejay music

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