Who doesn’t know Benyamin Sueb? He is a Betawi native who successfully became a singer and actor. He enlivened Indonesian cinema with myriad of achievements. Benyamin was born in Kemayoran, Jakarta, on 5 March 1939. Bang Ben, as he was fondly called, became a legend to Betawi people especially because he had made Betawi culture to be widely known nationally and to foreign countries. His name soared following his success in music and film. He produced and starred more than 75 music albums and 53 films – a proof of his determination and success in showbiz.
His artistic talent could not be separated from the influence of his grandfathers. Two Benyamin’s grandfathers were Saiti, a clarinet blower, and Haji Ung, an actor of folk theater Dulmuluk.
When he was a child, together with his siblings, Benyamin formed an orchestra with musical instruments made from used goods. For instance, they produced a trigon from medicine box, a stem bass from cans of oil drum, and keroncong from biscuits cans. With those “musical instruments”, they often played Dutch songs.
What later called as Kaleng Rombeng music group, formed by Benyamin at the age of 6, became the forerunner of his artistic work. Of the seven siblings, Rohani, Moh Noer, Otto Suprapto, Siti Rohaya, Moenadji, Ruslan and Saidi, only Benyamin had eventually got his name well-known as a Betawi artist.