Nejat Toksoy of Mavi Işiklar R.I.P.

by admin  12th Jul 2019 Comments [0]

By Jay Dobis


Nejat Toksoy, the lead singer of one of the top rock bands in Turkey in the ‘60s, Mavi Işiklar (1966-70), died on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, after a lengthy stay in hospital due to cancer.

Nejat was one of the most important figures in the development of Turkey’s rock culture when Mavi Işiklar formed in 1964, and he became lead singer. Mavi Işiklar released numerous singles, EPs, and one album. Although not a garage band per se, much of their material and execution was garage in nature. At the time, the record companies never allowed them to play original songs, so they covered American garage favorites, and best of all, played rocked up versions of traditional Turkish songs.

But before that, Nejat was lucky enough to spend a year going to high school in California as an exchange student and living with a family and guided by his ‘older brother’ Bruce Robinson… Soon after forming, Mavi Işiklar entered the first Altın Mikrofon contest run by the Hürriyet daily newspaper, which pushed bands to mix traditional Turkish folk music with rock ‘n’ roll, and Mavi Işiklar were at the forefront of this movement, which eventually resulted in Anadolu Rock. The band came in second, and the contest released their first single, “Helvaci Helva.” They toured heavily and quickly became one of the most in-demand bands, playing top clubs in many cities and appearing in films.

In 1965, when one of the members had to do his military service, Nejat’s old pal Bruce Robinson, a member of the well-known California surf band the Revelaires, filled in on bass. In the second Altın Mikrofon contest in 1966, they again came in second, and the contest released their second single, and they signed with the Sayan label and quickly released two bestselling EPs. They released an album in 1968 and their biggest hit single, “Iyi Dusun Tasin,” a cover of “For Your Information” by the Lebanese band the Cedars (one of at least 20 covers of this song in Turkey, and it’s the best).

After the band broke up in 1970, Nejat was considering an offer to become the lead vocalist for Moğollar; however, as Murat Ses (the arranger and principal writer for Moğollar) had quit that band, Nejat and Murat formed a new band: Ağrı Sağı Efsanesi, which released a number of singles.

Mavi Işiklar remained dormant until reforming in 2000 and played many gigs that year and the next. I saw them a number of times, and they were wonderful, still playing with energy and passion. The best songs were their rocked up versions of traditional Turkish songs on which the guitarist played some sizzling Middle Eastern raga rock guitar. All of the members were in fine form that night and every night I saw them. I got to know the entire band, and they were all very nice guys. In particular, I got to know Nejat, and we became friends. He was a wonderful guy… Eventually, the band decided to record another album, but unfortunately broke up over musical differences. However, a few years later, a successful Turkish TV series set in the ‘60s, Öyle Bir Geçer ki Zaman, relied heavily on the music of Mavi Işiklar and members of the band made many personal appearances. The band reformed again and periodically played gigs…

Nejat suffered two tragedies in 2010. First, his 32-year-old daughter Derya died from cancer and months later his beloved, grief-stricken wife also passed away.

Nejat will be greatly missed. He is survived by his daughter Deniz Toksoy and Linda Wright, his American high school girlfriend from that year in ’63 in California, who moved to be with him about a year and a half ago.

Mavi Isiklar, ca, 1968. Nejat Toksoy at far right.