Composer Joseph Koo, linked to 'Golden Era' of Hong Kong culture, dies in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Renowned composer Joseph Koo, whose music helped form the soundtrack for what his family called the "Golden Era" of Hong Kong culture in the 1970s and '80s, has died in Vancouver.

Koo's family says in a statement that he died of natural causes on Tuesday, six days short of his 92nd birthday.

The composer is closely associated with the heyday of Cantopop, writing songs for some of the biggest names of the Cantonese music genre as well as scoring movies including Bruce Lee's "Way of the Dragon" and "Fist of Fury."

He also wrote "Below the Lion Rock," the theme tune for a popular '70s TV series of the same name, which became an unofficial anthem for the city.

Koo's family says he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning to Hong Kong in the '60s to launch his music career.

They say he immigrated to Canada in the 1990s but continued his work in the Hong Kong music scene.

Koo's son Ken says in the statement his father was a "man of few words and known for his shyness and understated elegance in an industry that often celebrates the opposite."

"He will be dearly missed within the music industry and by Chinese communities around the world," the statement says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2023.

The Canadian Press