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Cui Jian

Often referred to as “Old Cui” or “the Father of Chinese Rock,” Cui Jian’s career brought him into direct confrontation with the Chinese government. Cui was born in Beijing in 1961 to Korean parents; his father was a trumpet player and his mother a dancer. He began playing the trumpet at age fourteen and by twenty was a member of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. While on breaks during his tenure with the orchestra, Cui became fascinated by illegally smuggled rock and roll records from Asia as well as by American musicians including Simon and Garfunkel. After Cui had taught himself to play guitar, he formed Qi He Ban with six other classically trained musicians. He was expelled from the orchestra in 1985 and, after a military officer heard one of his pieces, was banned from public performance for a year. In 1986 he performed “Nothing to My Name” at the Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium, which brought him to national attention. The next year he re-formed his band as ADO and in 1989 it recorded its first album (Cui’s second), Rock ’n’ Roll on the New Long March, through the China Tourism Sound and Video Publishing Company label. The same year, “Nothing to My Name” became a hit song among the Tiananmen Square student protestors when Cui visited the location and subsequently went into hiding after the government cracked down on dissent. In 1990 he embarked on the New Long March tour, but it was cancelled by the government and resulted in his banishment from major Beijing venues through the 1990s, although he continued to record and tour internationally. During the 2000s he was allowed to perform in Beijing again and open for major touring acts including the Rolling Stones and Deep Purple. In 2002 he cofounded the Snow Mountain Music Festival in Yunnan Province, which created an interest in outdoor music festivals.