Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Singapore 1966 Artistes In Kuching Sarawak Show


This newspaper advertisement was published by Sarawak Press, Kuching.

The Welcome Party

Kuching is a small town in Sarawak, Malaysia, so when a pop show that featured Singapore singers and bands made their way there, the population went wild. Nearly every young person in the area wanted to see them. 

According to Audie Ng who was the leader of the Silver Strings, everyone in the group was treated like international stars. They were all invited to the Governor's house for lunch, with reporters tailing them. After the interviews, they went to their hotel to unpack.

Audie remembered an incident when they heard a knocking at their hotel door. Thinking it was the housekeeper coming to check the room, one of the band boys sauntered to the door with a cold drink in his hand and casually opened it. The shock he experienced lasted to this day.
The Odeon and Capitol Cinemas in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia in the 1960's.

Imagine his surprise and embarrassment when a group of teenage girls rushed in screaming with autograph books in their hands. They refused to leave until every member of the entourage signed them. 

Apparently, some of the boys had to hide under the blankets because they were still in their briefs. It was a hilarious situation, one where the Silver Strings could remember forever.
The Talent Shows

The show featured Bryan Neale the bouncing boy from England, Judy Lee TV and radio nightingale, Catherine Chong top a-go-go dancer, Shirley Nair Singapore Singing Sexation (as advertised).  K.V. John was the compere for the evening and Robert Chua was the executive producer.

There were two top bands in attendance then, The Silver Strings and The Jets. The line-up then for both bands were Audie Ng, Merlin Lim, Danny Boy and Dickie Tan. I provided the tag-line, "the big beat band with the big bang beat" when I was with them for one and a half years.  Mike and Herb, Beatles of Malaysia, were the highlight of the show.  

The other band The Jets, had lead guitar Edward Tan, bassist Alan Poh, Harold on rhythm and Robert on drums. He was known as Singapore's dancing drummer. I remember they had one of the best instruments in the business, using solid Fender guitars on stage. Thomas Ang was their singer then. 

There were two shows each evening at 6.45 pm and another at 9.15 p.m. and staged at the Odeon Theatre in Kuching.

A Good Deed Not Forgotten

When the top Kuching pop band was invited to perform on stage, Audie Ng was shocked to see the lead guitarist carry an amplifier as small as a Rediffusion set with six batteries inside. Seeing it might not be able to amplify the guitar sound in the large cinema hall, Audie offered the group to use the Silver Strings Fender amplifiers. 

He remembered very well that they played the instrumental Tabu with pomp, polish, and pride. The band leader was ever grateful for the favor and kept in touch with Audie and the band. 

"Twenty-five years later he came to Singapore looking for the Silver Strings and repaid his favor by allowing me to service all his four nightclubs in Malaysia," explained Audie who provides bands for entertainment places.
            YouTube: Terry Snyder And The All Stars - Tabu. (1959).

The Show Producer

Robert Chua said: "In 1966, I produced and staged pop shows in Singapore and Malaysia and was the manager of The Jets. I wonder how many of my friends in Singapore remember these pop stars?

Can you imagine tickets were S$1, S$2 and S$3 (then S$1 was HK$2)? This was before I secured a job with Singapore television when they rejected me as they considered me too young."

Robert Chua was one of the youngest producers in S.E. Asia when he started.

"But when I got the job I worked about 7 months and produced more TV shows than any of their producers. After that, I resigned to join TVB and the rest is history!"

According to Mr. Chua, he was one of the youngest show producers in the 1960's. He was only 19.
Images from Mr. Robert Chua's Poster on Facebook; A Personal Collection and Google.

YouTube: Terry Snyder And The All Stars - Tabu. (1959).

This article is Copyrights Reserved.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Music Jokes And Cartoons Adapted For Singapore

Up to 400 viewers
since 1st published
The news these days were unsettling. There's the passing away of news reader Duncan Watt; Riem de Wolff from pop duo the Blue Diamonds; Don Williams a country singer, and an election that never was. The great storms and floods in Texas and Florida upset many of us here in Singapore.

Most readers were a little groggy, so  I pulled this post out of the top-hat.
All in fun, no offence meant, for comic relief.
The Elvis Presley tribute artiste above, who Singhs well, was asked what his favorite song was.  He replied, "Amal Shook Up." 👳

Enjoying his meal, as he usually does, Jerry (Neu Faces) was asked if he was eating torsay. He replied, "No, it's Cha Cha Cha-party." 😝 (It's Torsay Jerry, not Charparti.)

"My biggest fear is when I die, my wife will sell all my guitars at the second-hand shops for what I told her they cost." 🎸

What The Dukes' bassist, Zainal Abidin would advise his good friends, especially where local politics are concerned.🎸

When Jimi Hendrix was applying to work in Singapore in the 60's, he was interviewed by the management of a local music company.😕

"Here's a song about heartbreak, pain and lost love which I wrote when I was about to quit smoking. Now you know why I look so happy," says Michael Bangar (Silver Strings).

Changi Prison used to allow inmates to bring their own musical instruments for entertainment.🎵

Henry Chua (Quests) told his audience, "My neighbor knocked on my door at 3 this morning. 

Can you believe it? At 3 this morning! Luckily for him, I was still awake, playing the guitar and drums with John (Silver Strings)." 😤

Andy says:
Stay cool guys. I know, 6 years is a long time.

Images: A Personal Collection and Google.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Riem de Wolff Blue Diamonds RIP (1943-2017)

Up to 900 viewers
Posted on 12.09.17

Riem de Wolff has passed away this morning at 9 am, according to an SMS received at 11.45am. Riem was the younger brother of Ruud de Wolff (1941-2000), both known better as the dynamic, guitar singing duet, THE BLUE DIAMONDS.

Singapore fans, friends and my blog readers who are familiar with the Blue Diamonds send condolences to Riem's family.

May you Rest In Peace Riem.

                          Blue Diamonds: Ramona. Video: hanniev12

A Tribute From Michael Bangar:

Hi Andy,
This is my tribute to a great musical talent the late Mr Riem de Wolff, together with his late brother Ruud, who was originally from this part of Asia. They were the 60's duo The Blue Diamonds.

Thank you and your brother for the wonderful music you guys shared with us all those years. Many many hits that included: Little Ship, Oh Carol, Cathy's Clown and the now standard, your version of Ramona which is probably the best.

How you guys turn on your vocal harmonies on us school kids (budding musicians) during the kampong days. Your songs brought the sunshine into our lives. So much fond memories that are still with us today.
                    Blue Diamonds: Potong Padi Video from: coockiestv

As a student, I first saw The Blue Diamonds perform at the Singapore Badminton Hall (if my memory serves me right). Then over the years, on TV every now and then. I also got to watch them when they guested on, Rolling Good Times held at Singapore's Indoor Stadium.

Besides them, the other guests included Johnny Lion and The Jumping Jewels, Anneke Gronloh, The Quests, Sakura Teng and the late Kartina Dahari with many other artistes. It was one of the best local variety shows in a long time.

Not long after Ruud's passing, I got the chance to see Riem perform solo with only his guitar at the now defunct Sparks Night Club/Disco at Ngee Ann City. For a couple of hours, he put on a great show and breezed through a lot of classic standards and oldies, effortlessly.  

What an entertainer, with only a guitar accompanying his great vocals. And when he got into The Blue Diamonds hit list, Vernon sang Ruud's harmony parts. What a memorable evening it was for me and my band partner at that time, the late guitarist Mr Donald Thaver.

            Blue Diamonds: Sunny n Guantanamera. Video: Nostalgia Tube

Once again, thank you Ruud and Riem de Wolff - The Blue Diamonds, for all the wonderful music and memories. And wherever you guys are now I hope you continue your tradition of all those great music with those unique harmonies.

Salute, fellas!

Just to add brother Andy: We last met Riem at least about 10 years ago, one night at Adam Road Food Centre. The 4 of us were having supper after a gig. He and a few friends came to check out the Centre's favourite Tulang (Bone Soup). 

He knew Ivor Lesslar (lead guitarist for a number of bands), and came up to say hello and chatted. Ramon Francis, Jeffrey Pinto and I met him for the first time. He was a very warm and friendly person as far as I can recall.

RIP Mr Riem de Wolff.

Condolences below from:

Louis Soliano (Award Winner Percussionist):
Years ago my dad, with Jose Daroya's band played for the Blue Diamonds at the Cathay Restaurant. RIP Riem.

John Cher (Drummer Silver Strings):
Sad news. RIP Riem.

Richard Khan (Drummer October Cherries):
Ramona no more. I knew he was in a critical condition. No way out. 😢

Ronnie See (Burns Leader, Rhythm, Singer):
Sadly losing one of the great musicians. Condolences to his family. 

Horace Wee (Guitarist, Saxophonist):
RIP Riem, the Lord will welcome you.

Michael Bangar (Rhythm Silver Strings):
Oh dear. May the Lord Bless His Soul. RIP Riem.

Victor Lam (Burns Drummer):
RIP Riem: Sad new for us Blue Diamond fans.

Jimmy PresLee (Elvis Tribute Artiste):
Heard from Larry Lai last week... sad.

Irene Yap (Singer Recording Artiste);
So sorry to learn that. Beautiful harmony.
            Blue Diamonds: Save The Last For Me. Video: Christa Kinder

Oliver (Drummer Silver Strings):

Sam (Fan):

Jalani (Pianist):

Jan Cheong (fan):
Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord.

Lim Kuan Min (School principal, blog fan):

Dr A. Khoo (Lecturer, fan);

Tan Soo Khoon:
Sad news. (Check Comment page.)

Charlie Yap (Bass Locomotion):
Yes. He's the last Diamond. Sad... That's life. One by one...😐

Fabian Foo (video cam enthusiast, fan);
Oh dear, another one popular singer has passed on. RIP.

Christopher Toh (Music Journalist TODAY newspaper):
Sad news indeed! Yeah, I think I met him some years ago. Vernon C. introduced me before they went on Brian Richmond's show...

Ioleen Chia (Drummer Tepees):
I didn't know him personally but I was a fan of the Blue Diamonds. RIP.

Rickie Chng (Lead Silver Strings):
May his family members overcome this feeling of sadness.

This list will go on. Do write in...

Many Facebook comments below. Click Comments. 
With blogger Andy Young, the late Riem de Wolff, Larry Lai, the late Jap Chong, Vernon Cornelius. 

Click to read other Blue Diamonds stories:

Images: Google, A Personal Collection.
Videos from YouTube

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Rockabilly Is Elvis, Orbison, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee, Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash Says Horace Wee

"I always pick the bass player when playing rockabilly..."

Horace Wee, a professional guitarist, and saxophonist writes about 'rockabilly' and its true meaning in his capacity as a musician. I must thank him for the explanation he provides and the songs he uses to exemplify the genre.

I beg to differ on this subject.  Rockabilly was the forerunner of rock and roll. And examples should be taken from the Sun Records era.

This particular type of music had its derivatives from country and country swing of that day. Characterized by swinging loping four beat bass line and a snappy back beat. 

Examples would be That's Alright My Mama, Baby Let's Play House, and other early Elvis, Carl Perkins of course with Blue Suede Shoes and no one mentioned, Gene Vincent - Be Bop A Lula. Conway Twitty also contributed with more of his country background.
Brian Setzer is the one that keeps rockabilly alive these days. Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock was rockabilly starting to evolve. Further change came when Chuck Berry, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, started to add a more driving rhythm of eight notes.

From there Little Richard used the same eighth note driving rhythm and added the line up of horns giving it a black RnB flavor. Roy Orbison's earlier background is rockabilly. His progress in pop music was more to utilize the glorious tenor voice of his for more lyrical songs.
The closest today of rockabilly is from Brian Setzer who is from England.

I would add that Elvis soaked up a lot of these musical influences and was fortunate to be the one to bring that amalgamation of country, hill billy and black gospel to the white American mainstream. 

And that started the Rock Train.

Your 5 songs are not really rockabilly. They may have some roots but essentially it was rock/pop that evolved. Roy Orbison is already rock n roll. To see his rockabilly era you have to go to his Sun Records days where he sounded like a cross between early Elvis and Gene Vincent. Go Go Go, Rock House, Ooby Dooby for example. 
Rockabilly existed commonly in the early to late mid-fifties. The closest today of rockabilly is from Brian Setzer (as mentioned earlier), who is incidentally from England. Rockabilly caught on in England and you have here influences in the Beatles and Dave Edmunds for example. 

Horace Wee
Here goes with your list: 
1) Orbison was evolved, it's 80's rock and roll. 
2) Joan Jett is 80's rocker; 
3) Hollies were late 60's, a British rock pop group. 
4) Chuck Berry already evolved. Earlier songs like   Memphis Tennessee had more rockabilly links. 
5) Elvis Presley - 70's Las Vegas type era. Sort of swamp rock. He had changed. And the closest to the old Elvis,     the 60's return TV Special.

I always pick on the bass player when playing rockabilly. They play a sooth four note per bar when actually it should be a bouncy semi staccato execution. Like a thumping acoustics double bass beat. Correctly played, it should not be a bass guitar. However delivery of the bass line is important. There is a swing to the feel.

Images: Google
YouTube Video: Gene Vincent: Be Bop A Lula.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Don Williams: A Short Tribute from Michael Bangar

Nashville Tennessee.
Distinctive Song Stylist Gone @ 78.

The late Don Williams had a classic country hit with I BELIEVE IN YOU; a song with great melody and lyrics and one of my all time favorite. Another country song is YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND. Eric Clapton did a version of his song, TULSA TIME and made it a huge hit.

His memory will live on through these songs he recorded and with all his other hits Williams will be another country legend.  I hope you will be jamming with Glen, Chuck, Merle, Gentleman Jim, Patsy, Skeeter, Lynn and all the other great music stars who have left our planet and gone into another realm.

Written by Michael Bangar who contributes articles often on this blog. Check him out below under Labels.*
R.I.P. Don Williams.

"It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I'm so thankful for my fans, my friends, and my family for their everlasting love and support (Don Williams, Final Performance: 2016)."

Image Google.

Duncan Watt: Singapore's Favorite Newscaster 80's

Duncan Watt had passed away at 74 years young.  From the 80's to the 90's, i.e. for about 16 years, he was the favourite broadcaster, reading the news on Channel 5 at Singapore's television station, SBC. With typical BBC familiarity, Watt presented the daily grind, prime time at nine on an Asian network.

He worked in the British Council until he retired in 1992.  Also a writer, Watt wrote a 20 book series about the Wallace Boys.

He hosted another programme on radio under the Symphony 92.4 banner, playing light classical music until about 2004. His own favourite composer was Ivor Novello.

A serious back packer he had gone round the world and went to 80 countries. He fell in love with Singapore when he visited it in 1969 and decided to make this island his home in 1976.

RIP Duncan Watt.

Information from ST Lifestyle (edited) 9 September 2017.
Images Google.

You Tube I Can Give You The Starlight Vanessa Lee Video by gercha88

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rudy Mosbergen: Classical Music During Japanese Occupation


This post is not a book review but contains illustrative extracts of the music scene during a serious and destructive war in Japanese occupied Singapore in the early 40's. 

Up to 600 viewers 
since posting.

A Teachers' Day 2017 Story:

I met him the first time at *Teachers Training College at Paterson Road in 1961 where I was a studying to qualify as one. He was my lecturer and what a large figure he was in class as we kept to rapt attention listening to his interesting anecdotes and topic of the day. I cannot remember if he was discussing Principles of Education or English Literature but what caught my attention were his humorous one-liners which he dished out as fast as Bob Hope.

I met him again by chance at Toa Payoh Hub in 2009 when I was teaching at *NTU/NIE. He was still keen to know what was happening at NIE, so we chatted. That was when he revealed he had written a book about the Japanese occupation in Singapore. He sent me an autographed copy by snail mail when I requested to buy one.

Mr. Mosbergen's book, In The Grip Of A Crisis, was published in March 2007 with a foreword by Chan Kai Yau. The stories were told with the same pomp, fervor, and flavor as the ones he related in class.  In the introduction to his book, he wrote that although his wartime experiences were, "quite modest in scope, (they) were of sufficient interest to be shared with others."  
Seen through his own eyes as a teenager he felt, "the marked difference between benign British colonial rule and the mailed list of the truculent Japanese was both stark and harrowing."

This posting is not a review of his book. I shall leave it to the reader to check it out at the library if it's relevant to the person's needs. 

Since this blog peeps at our local music scene and food, I shall reveal passages where he wrote about the  "seeming tranquility of everyday life in Singapore" before 1942 and selected music happenings during the war. You need to buy the book to read what's written in between.

Mr Mosbergen was an accomplished, self-taught musician who could play the piano, compose songs and lyrics.  He remembers his evenings, "of music which was an enriching experience", discussing a Military Brass Band or the Singapore Police Force Band that performed alternately between the Waterloo Street bandstand, near National Museum, and the one at Botanic Gardens.
Waterloo Street Bandstand was dismantled to make way for Indian hawkers whose food, "became a legend to some Singaporeans." but when the Indian rojak, mee rebus/goreng/siam and teh tarek culinary experts were relocated by the Hawkers Department, their "staunch patrons met their Waterloo (page 48, 49)."

Under Syonan-to when the music came to life again, he attended concerts at the Victoria Theatre, walking from his home nearby, with his aunt Edna. He watched performances in the evenings by Hungarian and Filipino musicians that included light classics from the works of Strauss, Franz Lehar and pieces from Schubert, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart (page 177-178).

Throughout his book, in great detail, Mosbergen explained his growing up years in Queen Street that came later with frenzied pre-war preparations, a brief military campaign, the surrender of Singapore and the three and half years Occupation of the mighty Dai Nippon.
Concise but about 300 pages thick, you need to read the book in its entirety to appreciate Mosbergen's experience and the harrowing years he went through when the Japanese held this island.

Up to this day, I cannot forget his wise crack at Teacher's College, "Young man," he advised me once, "It's survival of the fittest, not necessarily the fattest."

Happy Teachers' Day 2017.


Mr. Mosbergen passed away on 22nd February 2015.

*Teachers' Torture Chamber (TTC) as we jokingly called it.
National Technological University/National Institute of Education.

Please write in if you knew Mr Mosbergen and provide a simple dedication. Click the Comment page below.