Campursari singer Didi Kempot in action during his concert at JIExpo Kemayoran in Jakarta in December last year. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

'Godfather of the Broken-Hearted' Didi Kempot Passes Away at 53


MAY 05, 2020

Jakarta. Legendary Indonesian singer and songwriter Dionisius Prasetyo, better known as Didi Kempot, passed away on Tuesday morning at Kasih Ibu Hospital in Surakarta, Central Java. He was 53.

Didi is said to have died of a heart attack. He was buried today in Ngawi, East Java.

Born in Surakarta on Dec. 31, 1966, Didi began his career as a street musician, roaming the streets of his hometown from 1984 to 1986.

He moved to Jakarta in 1987 to seek his fortune and released his first trademark campursari album in 1989. 

Campursari songs are usually sappy ballads that cleverly mix influences of pop, keroncong and dangdut.

The word campursari in the Javanese language literally means "mixture of essences."

In the early 1990s, Didi scored two radio hits, "Stasiun Balapan" ("Balapan Train Station" – the main train station in Surakarta) and "Sewu Kutho" ("A Thousand Cities"), that brought him fame.

Didi's career went through a trough from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, but in the past few years a Didi Kempot revival went fully mainstream, with the pop crooner being rechristened as "The Godfather of the Broken-Hearted," a patron saint to his millions of rabid, handkerchief-wielding "Sad Bois" (and Sad Girls). 

Throughout his career, The Godfather of the Broken-Hearted wrote nearly 700 songs, almost all of them campursari songs in his beloved Javanese language. 

Before he died, the legendary singer, who was also a big name in Suriname – which has a large Javanese population – since the early 1990s, was busy lending his voice to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.  

He released a new song called "Ojo Mudik" ("Don't Go Mudik") to appeal to his fans not to go on the Idul Fitri exodus that the government fears will spread the coronavirus to small towns and villages. 

On April 11, Didi held a charity concert from his home in Surakarta, broadcast live on KompasTV, which raised Rp 7.6 billion ($500,000) to help Indonesians affected by the pandemic.

His fundraising initiative seized the attention of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who appeared via a telephone call during the live broadcast to thank him. 

"I watched the charity concert by Didi Kempot to raise money for Covid-19 victims. He's also helped the government by telling his followers to cancel their mudik plans. This morning he passed away. My condolences to his family, his fans, all the 'sobat ambyar' ['broken-hearted friends,' another nickname for Didi's fans] everywhere. Goodbye, The Godfather of the Broken-Hearted," Jokowi said on an Instagram post.  

Didi is survived by his wife Yan Vellia and his two young children.