Pumpuang Duangjan
Pumpuang 'Peung' Duangjan (Thai
Thai alphabet
Thai script , is used to write the Thai language and other, minority, languages in Thailand. It has forty-four consonants , fifteen vowel symbols that combine into at least twenty-eight vowel forms, and four tone marks ....

 พุ่มพวง ดวงจันทร์), or 'Poompuang Moon' as she was referred to in Thailand, was the professional name of a Thai megastar
-Celebrities:* Megastar, a particularly notable superstar* MegaStar, nickname of Indian Telugu film actor Chiranjeevi...

  singer, actress who pioneered electronic Luk Thung
Luk thung
Luk Thung refers to the most popular form of a style of music found in Thailand. The term is short for pleng luk thung .Luk Thung songs typically reflect the hardship of everyday life among the rural poor. Tempos tend to be slow, and singers use an expressive singing style with a lot of vibrato...

. She is considered one of the most important Luk Thung
Luk thung
Luk Thung refers to the most popular form of a style of music found in Thailand. The term is short for pleng luk thung .Luk Thung songs typically reflect the hardship of everyday life among the rural poor. Tempos tend to be slow, and singers use an expressive singing style with a lot of vibrato...

 vocalists in Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. The child of poor farmers, she came to attention as a teenager in the late '70s. Although she was illiterate, her lyrics were powerful and compelling stories of Thailand's rural poor. She adapted pleng luk thung (Thai country music) into a dance-ready form known as electronic luk thung. Her death in 1992, at the age of 31, led many to believe that her music form would die out. However, it has continued and in 1997 the first all luk thung radio station was opened.

Life and Success

Before Pumpuang, 'Luk Thung' (Thai Country Music) was very tame. However, Pumpuang's songwriter, composer and producer - 'Kru Lop Burirat'. An accomplished musician who played both Western and Thai music, Lop Burirat mixed them both together for a new style. In 1985 they produced the album 'Aue Hue Lor Jang' ( Oh, he's so cute!), which became a phenomenal success.

'Peung' and Kru Lop quickly released a succession of record-breaking albums including 'Hang Noi Thoi Nid', 'Noo Mai Roo' and 'Noo Mai Ao'. While there is no doubt that Look Thung owes Kru Lop a great much, it was 'Peung' who was in charge of her own self-promotion. She performed on stage in a variety of flesh revealing costumes giving her an outrageously sexy look which often brought a severe backlash from music critics and the older generation. Loved, but also loathed, she was criticized for trying to 'copy' Western popstar Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

 and lambasted for her Un-Thai sense of dress and flirtation.

Being undisturbed and completely ignoring her detractors, 'Peung' continued performing in the way she saw fit. Her audiences just loved it. Thailand had never seen anyone like it before! Pumpuang face graced the bigscreen as well, as she starred in various Thai films in career. On September 12, 1989 Pummpuang was given an award by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. HRH Sirindhorn awarded her in the field of outstanding singing for the song "Land of Smiles" composed by teacher 'Rat Buri' in the second half century pastoral sector.

In recent times, a new generation of Look Thung artists such as Yui Yartyuth, Arphaphorn Nakhorn Sawan and Dau Mayuree all pointed to 'Peung' as their inspiration. Til this day she will always be remembered as 'the girl who put the spice into Luk Thung'.

A Life Of Tears and Sorrow

Pumpuang's journey is a 'rags to riches story' of an illiterate peasant girl who achieved legendary status as the 'Queen of Look Thung' is of almost mythical proportion. Though born in kamphaeng Phet, central Thailand, she was brought up in Suphanburi
Suphan Buri is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Suphan Buri Province. It covers the whole tambon Tha Philiang and parts of the tambon Rua Yai and Tha Rahat, all within the Mueang Suphan Buri district...

 province just north of Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

. As her family was so poor, 'Peung' was forced to drop out of school after just one year to help her parents in their sugar-cane fields.

Being unable to read did not deter Peung from picking up a microphone and learning by heart a collection of almost 100 songs by the age of twelve. Growing up and wanting to hit the big time, 'Peung' entered the notorious world of 'Cafe and Temple Fair' concerts as a dancer and singer. It was 'on this circuit' where she met her first husband.

The marriage was a rocky one and her husband later ran off with another girl. Adding injury to insult, he returned after the affair and eloped with Peung's younger sister - they married later. The man who married first Peung before her younger sister, was known to the public as an 'alcoholic womanizer' who did nothing but 'live off women'. Family feuds erupted and Peung's brother was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he had killed Peung's former husband in a fit of anger. Another of her brothers, brokenhearted at the rejection of a singer he wished to married, picked up a shotgun one day - placed it at his head and pulled the trigger.

Shortly after shooting to fame, Peung married again and had a baby son. More family quarrels erupted after Peung's mother blamed her new husband for taking advantage of Peung's illiteracy and having her unknowingly, sign over to him - her financial documents and earnings. The marriage did not last long and the couple separated over his supposed womanizing and extortionate spending (of her money)

Over time, Peung's health just went from bad to worse and she was hospitalized several times. In 1992, though still sick, Peung travelled to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province , a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna and was the tributary Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 until 1939. It is...

 to see her son. Before returning to Bangkok - Peung, close family and friends stopped off to pay their respects at one of Thailand's most revered Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 Images located at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok province. "She had wanted to pray for her son's well-being" Before even leaving the temple gates - Peung collapsed.

Just as quickly as she had arrived on the stage, she was lost to us. Peung died of kidney failure at Phra Phutthachinnarat hospital in Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok is an important and historic city in lower northern Thailand and is the capital of Phitsanulok Province, which stretches all the way to the Laotian border. Phitsanulok is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, founded over 600 years ago...

. She was just 31 years of age.


Pumpuang's importance for Thai music and life is unmatched. She is the 'American Dream' in a Thai version, the girl who, with nothing other than her talent, came from Suphanburi in the Central rice fields (5th child of a 12 children family) to become by far Thailand's most famous and loved singer. She could convincingly sound like a young schoolgirl in love as well as a mature woman looking back on her life. Her voice and songs remain outstanding and the frequency with which her songs are still played, two decades after her death, suggest that she will be remembered far beyond any foreseeable future.

Her success in her musical career was not matched in her private life and public opinion has been tough on her two husbands.

Official records say that she died from Lupus
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus , often abbreviated to SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage...

, a non-contagious auto-immune disease. Hundreds of thousands of people came to her funeral, arguably more than for anyone else in recent Thai history. Her funeral was held at Wat Tapkradan in Suphanburi
Suphan Buri is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Suphan Buri Province. It covers the whole tambon Tha Philiang and parts of the tambon Rua Yai and Tha Rahat, all within the Mueang Suphan Buri district...

 province, an estimated 200,000 people turned up to pay their last respects. Even the Thai king himself, Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX...

 came to pay his respects; for a peasant-born woman this was unheard of and has not been repeated.

Over the years several Thai artists have done their own covers of her songs. In 2005 Mai Charoenpura
Mai Charoenpura
Siriwimol "Mai" Charoenpura, , is a Thai singer and actress.-Early life:Born in Bangkok, Thailand, she is one of four daughters of Thai actor Surin Charoenpura and Winee Sontikool. She has three sisters, Venic White, Ploy Charoenpura and Vipavee Maguire, and a half sister, actress Intira Jaroenpura...

, popular Thai singer and actress dedicated her 4th album to Pumpuang. She recorded a cover of the luk thung classic "Nak Rong Baan Nok," the video is a tribute to Pumpuang's early rise to fame. A statue was also been created in her honor and memory in Suphanburi, Thailand. Fans and Tourists can still be seen today making homage to site.


  • 1983 - Grasshopper Tie a Bow (ตั๊กแตนผูกโบว์)
  • 1985 - Aue Hue Lor Jang (อื้อฮือหล่อจัง)
  • 1986 - Hang Noi Thoi Nid (ห่างหน่อยถอยนิด)
  • Marigold Stars Sprinkle (ดาวเรืองดาวโรย)
  • Ashamed of Neon Light (อายแสงนีออน)
  • Countryside Singer (นักร้องบ้านนอก)
  • Expensive Lesson (บทเรียนราคาแพง)
  • Widowed Groom (หม้ายขันหมาก)
  • Green Papaya Salad (Som-tum) (ส้มตำ)
  • Upcountry Love Song (เพลงรักบ้านทุ่ง)


  • 1984 - Nun (ชี)
  • 1984 - Ms. Fresh Coconut Milk (นางสาวกะทิสด)
  • 1984 - We're Sorry Love (ขอโทษที ที่รัก)
  • 1984 - King Cobra Emerged (จงอางผงาด)
  • 1985 - Love Hoow She Is (ที่รัก เธออยู่ไหน)
  • 1986 - New Gunman (มือปืนคนใหม่)
  • 1987 - Charming Singer (เสน่ห์นักร้อง)
  • 1987 - Captive Love (เชลยรัก)
  • 1987 - Music Love Song Gun (เพลงรัก เพลงปืน)
  • 1988 - Diamond Kingdom (เพชรพยัคฆราช)

Further reading

  • "The many lives of Pumpuang", by Chang Noi in The Nation (Thailand)
    The Nation (Thailand)
    The Nation is a broadsheet, English-language daily newspaper founded in 1971 and published in Bangkok, Thailand, and is owned by the Nation Multimedia Group.The Nation is a member of the Asia News Network...

    , 2002-06-10
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