I STARTED playing guitar when I was a teenager. Initially, I was a self-taught guitarist imitating styles of my popular guitarists such as Hank Marvin, Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry.
My neighbour Mohd Taib Mohamad, a prominent musician and a piano, violin and guitar teacher, persuaded me to take up formal guitar lessons from him as he found me to be talented.
He taught me, and his son Omar, the basic guitar techniques. Omar is now a music director at the Johor Heritage Foundation.
After picking up formal guitar lessons from Taib, I joined several local pop groups as their lead guitarist.
In 1965, I joined the "Little Devils", at the age of 18. The band performed at wedding receptions, schools and community halls. The best accessible hall in town then was the "Diamond Jubilee Hall".
In 1970, I teamed up with several local musicians to perform at a nightclub called "Mechinta" at Jalan Straits View in Johor Baru.
The nightclub was a favourite meeting place for tourists and locals. Most of our repertoire were western numbers of pop, rock 'n' roll, and jazz genre.
My team comprised flutist Abdul Rahim Othman, keyboardist Idris Mohamed and vocalist Datuk Shake.
Idris, the father of popular saxophonist Jari, was also talented in other instruments such as saxophone, violin, piano and accordion.
His death a few years ago was a great loss to the music fraternity, notably for those in the Johor traditional music circle.
My three-year stint at Mechinta was by far the longest but I enjoyed every minute performing there.
In 1973, I moved to Kuantan to perform at a famous club known as "The Log Cabin".
I teamed up with a local guy and songstress Rohana Jalil, who recorded Malay pop numbers in the later years.
Rohana sang English tunes, including songs of Karen Carpenter, Barbra Streisand and Dolly Parton, to name a few.
We always discussed and exchanged views on how to upgrade her singing capabilities.
Later, we went our separate ways. I decided to look for a decent job as I was already 28.
In 1975, I was offered a job with Risda in Batu Pahat.
The department was in need of a lead guitarist as they had just formed a combo.
But my performance with the combo lasted only a year as I was transferred to its Johor Baru office the following year.
As there were not much musical activities at the JB office, I decided to perform as a solo guitarist at several lounges, pubs and nightclubs after working hours.
As a freelance musician, I performed with many musicians such as Kenny Tay (of Kenny, Remy, Martin fame), Rahimah Rahim, and Zainal Abidin (formerly Headwind lead singer).
The three became successful recording artistes after leaving the club in the early '80s.
My final performance before my long break was at the then Holiday Inn (now Mutiara) Johor Baru.
I teamed up with a group, who later called themselves "Illusi".
Led by vocalist Ayai, I left the Illusi band after learning that they were going to produce an album of their own.
I decided then to concentrate on my career and family commitments.
The band became very popular in the early '90s.
After I retired from Risda in 2002, I was less active but still performed, albeit on a small scale.
Currently, I perform at a coffee house known as "Blues Cafe".
Most of the guests are senior citizens who enjoy oldies.
Ungku Onn Ungku Abdullah, 65, fondly known as 'Pete' among close colleagues, was born in Kampung Wadi Hana. He lives in Taman Skudai Kanan with his wife Salimah Hassan. They have six children.