James Wong (lyricist)

"Jim Wong" redirects here. For the American musician, see Jimmy Wong. For other uses, see James Wong.
James Wong
Background information
Chinese name 黃霑 (traditional)
Chinese name 黄沾 (simplified)
Pinyin Huáng Zhān (Mandarin)
Jyutping Wong4 Zim1 (Cantonese)
Birth name Wong Jum-sum (Chinese: 黃湛森; Cantonese Yale: Wong4 Jaam3 Sam1)
Born (1941-03-16)16 March 1941
Panyu, Guangzhou, China
Died 24 November 2004(2004-11-24) (aged 63)
Hong Kong
Genre(s) Cantopop
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • harmonica
Years active 1962–2004
Spouse(s) Hua Wa (1967–1976)
Eunice Lam (1976–1990) (unofficial)
Winnie Chan (1995–2004)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Wong.

James Wong (Chinese: 黃霑, Wong Jim; 16 March 1941 – 24 November 2004, also known as "Uncle Jim") was a Cantopop lyricist and songwriter based primarily in Hong Kong. Beginning from the 1960s, he was the lyricist for over 2,000 songs, collaborating with songwriter Joseph Koo (aka. Gu Gaa-fai) on many popular television theme songs, many of which have become classics of the genre. His work propelled Cantopop to unprecedented popularity.[1][2][3][4]

He was also a well known in Asia as a columnist, actor, film director, screenwriter, and talk show hosts. He took part in creative directing positions within the entertainment industry in Hong Kong.

Wong died on 24 November 2004 of lung cancer after a four-year battle at the age of 64.[5]


Wong was born in Panyu, in what now is part of Guangzhou, China and migrated to Hong Kong with his family in 1949. He completed his secondary education at La Salle College. In 1963, he graduated from Chinese Department, Faculty of Arts of the University of Hong Kong. Wong received an MPhil degree from the University of Hong Kong in 1983 for his study in Cantonese opera. In May 2003, in the midst of his fight with lung cancer, he obtained a PhD degree at the Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong. The title of his thesis was "The rise and decline of cantopop : a study of Hong Kong popular music(1949–1997)".[6]

Career and contributions

Exhibition of Dr James Wong's works during University of Hong Kong's CAS Openday in October 2005
Music Blanket is one of James Wong's favourite personal collection

Wong had participated in a variety of media fields including advertisement, movie and music. He was best known for his achievements as a lyricist of Cantonese songs in Hong Kong. Beginning from the 1960s, he was the lyricist for over 2,000 songs, collaborating with composer Joseph Koo (aka. Gu Gaa-fai) on many popular TVB TV drama theme songs, many of which have become classics of the genre. His works had pushed the development of Cantopop to unprecedented popularity.

At the same time of being well known and praised for his creative works in the entertainment and advertisement fields, Wong was also famous for his vulgar and indelicate jokes. He had a series of best-seller joke books. He was regarded as the one breaking the cultural barrier to taboos in Hong Kong during the conservative environment in the 1970s. He is best remembered as the person who came up with the slogan "Two kids are good enough" for The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong.

Wong hosted several TV programs, mostly interviews or talk shows oriented towards adults, on both TVB and ATV. One of the talk shows called "Off-guard Tonight" (今夜不設防), co-hosted by Wong and his close friends Chua Lam and Ni Kuang on ATV, is particularly remembered.

Since the 1990s, Wong's creative works had become less popular, and many entertainment companies featured less of Wong's songs. Some TV shows hosted by Wong were also unpopular. Wong had decided to return to Hong Kong University to get a doctorate degree, about Hong Kong popular culture. His essay is now in the library of Hong Kong University.

On 24 November 2004, Wong died in Union Hospital in Hong Kong. His funeral was a low-key family funeral as per his wishes. At this moment, Hong Kong people reflected on his career and accomplishments. For the following few days, the news of his death had become the headline of media in Hong Kong and his compositions were played throughout the week. A remembrance ceremony took place at Hong Kong Stadium, over 15,000 attended this ceremony.[7]

Personal life

Wong had been officially married twice, but with three notable relationships. He had three children with his first wife, singer Hua Wa. Their marriage ended while Hua Wa was pregnant with their only daughter, Ursule Wong. Wong once said the most important love of his life was Eunice Lam Yin-nei, a writer who he did not marry despite the two living together from 1976 to 1990.[8][9] Lam was also a radio host, and was the sister of Richard Lam, a Cantopop lyricist. Wong's second marriage was to his long-time assistant, Winnie Chan until his death, but she was never seen with him in public.

Important works in lyrics


Wong received numerous awards for his works.

– Music Awards

– Film Awards

Filmography as actor

See also


  1. Growing With Hong Kong: The University and Its Graduates... 2002– Page 317: "Good lyrics are an essential ingredient of Cantonese songs and James Wong Jum-sum, lyricist and composer, has created more than a thousand to ..."
  2. Yiu-Wai Chu Lost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China – 2013 Page 83 "The Cantonese version was written in 1974 by James Wong, the Godfather of Cantopop, when a Walt Disney show... While Hong Kong Disneyland highly valued James Wong's lyrics, the Hong Kong government tended to think differently."
  3. Jingzhi Liu – A Critical History of New Music in China – 2010 Page 584 "stage—songs in Cantonese by popular composers like Sam Hui (Xu Guanjie), Joseph Koo (Gu Jiahui), James Wong (Huang Zhan) and Lai Siu-tin (Li Xiao- tian). These new-style Canto-pop songs were welcomed with open arms by the young people of Hong Kong, because the lyrics, ..."
  4. World Music Volumn 2 Latin and North America Caribbean India Asia ... Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, Richard Trillo – 2000 – Page 49 "Amongst the Chinese – and particularly the Cantonese-speaking population of southern China and Hong Kong – by far ... Cantopop (Cantonese pop) began to appear in the 1970s – an amalgam of Western soft-rock and mellow Cantonese lyrical singing — 'Southern China-meets-the West', ... Joseph Koo and James Wong were the groundbreakers, composing Cantopop song for TV themes in the 1970s."
  5. "Hong Kong Government statement on Wong's death (Chinese only)". Hong Kong Government. 24 November 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  6. "In memory of Dr James Wong". Hong Kong University. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  7. "Memorial Service at Hong Kong Stadium". China Daily. 6 December 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  8. Wong, Martin (6 December 2004). "Private grief of the one Uncle Jim loved best". South China Morning Post.
  9. Chow, Vivienne (2 December 2004). "Uncle Jim puts family first at the end". South China Morning Post.

External links

Preceded by
Paula Tsui
Golden Needle Award of RTHK Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award
Succeeded by
Roman Tam
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