Dewa 19, often referred to as Dewa, is an Indonesian rock band originating from Surabaya, East Java.
Since the band's formation in 1986 there have been a number of changes to the lineup. The current members are: Ahmad Dhani (keyboard), Andra (guitar), Tyo (drums), Yuke (bass guitar), and 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 was move to Jakarta where after a number of rejections by record companies, a Dewa 19 master was finally recorded by Team Records.
Mainstream success and line-up instability
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.
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 problems of two other band members. Erwin entered a rehabilitation program to end a drug dependency which was ultimately successful. Ari Lasso also experienced difficulties and Dhani insisted that the vocalist role be filled by Once. The vacant drummer's seat was filled by Tyo Nugros.
In their fifth album Bintang Lima released in 2000, the band changed their name from Dewa 19 back to Dewa. Bintang Lima was a hit, selling over 1.7 million copies. Erwin returned to the band as bass guitar player.
After the 2002 release of the popular album Cintailah Cinta, a number of problems emerged. 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, formerly the The Groove bassist.
In 2004 Dewa released a live album entitled Atas Nama Cinta I & II followed by the studio album Laskar Cinta. In the same year Dewa changed its name to Dewa 19 again.
In 2006 the eighth studio album Republik Cinta was released. The album has spawned three radio hit singles: "Laskar Cinta", "Selimut Hati" and "Sedang Ingin Bercinta".
Now, Dewa members have their own side project. Dhani now also playing for The Rock, Andra playing guitar for his own Andra and The BackBone, and also Once develops his career as a solo singer.