Dewa 19 (Pronounced in Indonesian Dewa sembilanbelas), often referred to as Dewa, were an Indonesian rock band originating from Surabaya, East Java. The band was formed in 1986 there have been a number of changes to the lineup and finally they were disbanded in 2011. Their last members lineup were: Ahmad Dhani (keyboard), Andra (guitar), Agung Yudha (drums), Yuke (bass guitar), & Once (vocals).
Dewa was first formed in 1986 by four students from a junior high school SMPN 6 in Surabaya. The name Dewa originated as an acronym of the founding members’ names: D from Dhani (keyboard, vocals), E from Erwin Prasetya (bass guitar), W from Wawan Juniarso (drums) and A from Andra (guitar). Dewa is also an Indonesian word meaning ‘god’, or ‘deity’. The band was initially based at Wawan’s dorm in the Airlangga University complex.
Wanting to take a different direction, Wawan left the band in 1988 and formed Outsider with Ari Lasso. The name Dewa was changed to Down Beat which became a reasonably well-known name in East Java during that time. When Slank became well-known, Wawan was asked to rejoin Dewa to rejuvenate the band and Ari Lasso was invited too. As the age of the bands members was 19 years at the time, Down Beat was changed to Dewa 19. Due to the lack of a studio that met their requirements in Surabaya, the band was forced to move to Jakarta where after a number of rejections by record companies, a Dewa 19 master was finally recorded by Team Records.
The first album Dewa 19 was released in 1992. Exceeding expectations, the album received awards from BASF in the categories of Best Newcomer and Most Popular Album of 1993. In this album their signature songs are “Kangen” & “Kita Tidak Sedang Bercinta Lagi”. During the making of the second album Format Masa Depan which was released in 1994, Wawan left the band again due to incompatibility between the members. After their 1995 album Terbaik-Terbaik which enjoyed sales of more than half a million units was completed, Wong Aksan joined the band as drummer. Wong departed too after the following album Pandawa Lima was finished in 1997 and was replaced by Bimo Sulaksono, a former member of Netral. Not long thereafter Bimo left Dewa 19 and together with Bebi formed the band Romeo. In addition to the problem of frequent changes to the lineup, Dewa 19 also suffered from the implications of the alleged drug addiction problems of two other band members. Erwin entered a rehabilitation program to end a drug dependency which was ultimately successful. Ari Lasso also experienced drug addiction problem that affected to his vocal difficulties which makes Ari departed from the band in 1999, and Dhani insisted that the vocalist role will be replaced by Once whom he met in 1997. The vacant drummer’s seat will be sitted by Tyo Nugros.
In 2000, Dewa made a breakthrough, along with the release time of their fifth album Bintang Lima, the band changed their name from Dewa 19 back to Dewa. Bintang Lima was a huge commercial success, selling over 1.7 million copies in Indonesia. It is the highest selling album in the band’s career history. When they recorded the album, Erwin returned to the band as bass guitar player. In this album their signature songs are “Roman Picisan”, “Separuh Nafas”, “Sayap-sayap Patah”, “Risalah Hati”, & “Dua Sejoli”.
In 2002, Dewa made another breakthrough, following the release of the popular album Cintailah Cinta, but it spawned a controversy. The song “Arjuna Mencari Cinta” was plagued by copyright issues and eventually the band was forced to change the name to “Arjuna” only. Erwin left due to differences with the band’s management and was replaced by Yuke Sampurna, former bassist of The Groove. In this album their signature songs are “Pupus”, “Arjuna”, “Angin”, “Bukan Rahasia”, & “Kosong”.
In 2011, Ahmad Dhani announced Elfonda ‘Once’ Mekel has left the band on January 19. Dhani auditioned many singers for lead singer, the strongest candidate was Judika Sihotang, the runner-up winner of 2005 Indonesian Idol singing contest, who was later put into Dhani’s side project Mahadewa. Answering rumours that the band had broken up Ahmad Dhani stated that Dewa 19 is currently disbanded, but hasn’t permernantly broken up. -wikipedia