S P Balasubrahmanyam into an orthodox Saivite family on June 4, 1946 in Konetammapeta in the Nellore district of then composite Madras State (Now part of state of Andhra Pradesh).
He developed an interest in music very early in his life, and had studied notations and learnt to play instruments such as harmonium and flute on his own while listening to his father. A gifted singer, he is highly regarded for his incredible vocal range, deep rich voice, and mastery of style, technique and control. These qualities allowed him expression across various genres of Indian music, and he has been highly sought after by many of India's film music composers. His approach to singing is methodical; he perseveres to understand the full meaning of the songs that he sings (many of which are very poetic) and the settings in which these songs are couched in order to most effectively match their requirements with his vocal delivery.
Balasubramanyam made his debut in film music as a singer in 1966 with Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, a film scored by his mentor Kodandapani. He has sung more than 30,000 songs since in more than 5 different Indian languages including Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam. He holds the Guinness record for having sung the most number of song recordings by any single male singer (the corresponding record for a female singer is held by Lata Mangeshkar).
SPB is fairly well-versed in the Hindi language, but has also sung in various other less familiar languages such as Bengali, Tulu and Oriya. He feels that vocal gimmickry cannot mask incorrect accents, and while he concedes that his accent and diction in Hindi are not perfect, insists that accent is secondary to singing within the context of the proper emotions required of the lyrics and moods. He welcomes modern technology in music making as it enhances both speed and results.
Besides the more popular music genre, he has demonstrated his seemingly effortless ability to sing in the various classical music styles of India. For example, The songs he sung in the films Shankarabharanam, Sagara Sangamam, Rudra Veena were based on Carnatic classical music, and the song Umandu Ghumandu in the movie Ganayogi Panchakshari Gavayi was based on Hindustani classical music.
SPB (and also Balu), as he is popularly known, virtually monopolised playback singing for more than 15 years in the Telugu, Kannada and Tamil cinema. He hosts a popular TV show called Paadutha Theeyaga on E-Tv, Paadalani Undi on MAA-TV and Ede Thumbi Haaduvenu on 'E-Tv Kannada'.