Koes Plus, formerly Koes Bersaudara (Koes Brothers), is an Indonesian musical group that enjoyed success in the 1960s and 1970s. Known as one of Indonesia's classic musical acts, the band peaked in popularity in the days far before the advent of private television companies, delivering stripped-down pop and rock songs at the then-only TV station, TVRI.
In addition, Rolling Stone put 10 of the band's songs on the 150 Greatest Indonesian Songs of All Time list. The songs are "Bis Sekolah" (1964) at number 4, "Kembali Ke Jakarta" (1969) at number 6, "Nusantara I" (1971) at number 19, "Kolam Susu" (1973) at number 31, "Bunga Di Tepi Jalan" (1971) at number 80, "Kelelawar" (1969) at number 83, "Manis dan Sayang" (1969) at number 88, "Pelangi" (1972) at number 92, "Jemu" (1975) at number 100 and "Di Dalam Bui" (1967) at number 126.
Early days and controversy
Hailing from the Bojonegoro-Tuban area in East Java, the band started out as Koes Bersaudara (Koes Brothers), initially consisting of all five Koeswoyo brothers: John Koeswoyo, Yok Koeswoyo, Yon Koeswoyo, Nomo Koeswoyo and Tonny Koeswoyo. Its antics of pioneering Beatles-influenced rock and roll subculture in Indonesia proved to be controversial. Such subcultures had been banned by President Sukarno in the early 1960s, and in 1965 the brothers were arrested by the Highest Operation Commando (KOTI) for performing covers of Beatles songs. They were eventually released just the day preceding the nation's coup d'état, on 29 September. This experience resulted in their song "Di Dalam Bui".
When drummer Nomo quit in 1969, Murry was invited to fill the niche, but the decision caused an internal uproar as the band was initially projected as a family act. The feud was resolved by rebaptizing the band as Koes Plus. It consisted of the Koeswoyos plus an outsider; hence the name. Music historians have hypothesized that it was Murry's heavy drumming which led to the band incorporating rock tunes within their generally ballad-heavy albums.
Koes Plus' early days were rugged, as record companies insisted on rejecting them. Murry became frustrated at some point and temporarily quit the band, distributing their records freely as well as joining several other acts. Not until their songs were played on the state radio network did they gain considerable fame.
Koes Plus never owned any legal rights pertaining to their works; they received only flat payment of approximately three million rupiahs for each album they recorded. While this meant that their record label was willing to produce a huge number of albums by Koes Plus due to the small investment involved, it also meant that the band never enjoyed any form of royalties whenever their works are being reproduced. As such, they rely upon their continuing live performances for their income.