Sunday, May 21, 2017

Good Looking Fatso Recalls Singapore Pops

Suittuapui wrote to me a long time ago, and as I rolled around, with my mouse, I found his letter by chance, which I had forgotten to post. I apologise for the long wait but here it is in full. He also tells us who he is. Thank you for writing.

Suituapui (sui = good-looking, tua-pui = fatso) says:

Ooooo...  one of my all-time favourite songs. 3 Dog Night's Pieces of April - 1973. I was in Singapore that year, Stamford College, Waterloo Street. 

Those were the days. I saw Heather and the Thunderbirds - Lost Horizon, Shangri La... and also another place, Malaysia Hotel... can't remember the name now.  

I saw a very young Anita Sarawak too - Top of the Hilton.  Oooo... What memories. 
Silver Strings Shirley Nair: Come Home To Me: You Tube Video by Basil Yeo.

Love Shirley Nair's Come Home to Me. I hear she has passed on, real sad. I knew Veronica but I can't remember what songs. Teresa Khoo's Singaporean too or not? I remember her Unspoken Words.

I like Russ Hamilton's My Mother's Eyes best. When I was a kid, my father had the LP record. I don't think it's a lullaby - years later, I was singing another Russ Hamilton's song to put my little girl to sleep -  Little One. That's a nice lullaby.  

Who’s Suituapui?  

Personally, I am
…chronologically-advanced but always young at heart. Horizontally-challenged, hence the name or in short, STP, which means, “Good-Looking Fatso”.

…someone with a passion for food! I know the best places to eat, that’s for sure and enjoy cooking but mostly the simple stuff – mum’s home-cooked favourites!

…one who likes meeting people and mingles well with friends of all ages, both young and old.

…an ardent radio-listener. I enjoy the current hit songs as well as some older ones. No particular favourite singer or band; anything that is nice.

Thank you Suituapui for this cavalcade of Singapore songs, singers, bands and entertainment venues that you have so informatively mentioned. 

If you read this post, do write in again. Andy. 

You can check the writer out at:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Niagara Falls: Maid Of The Mist, Lady In Red?

The Truth About Creatures In The Night
Another Travel Tale:

I travelled alone to Niagara Falls and was on the Canadian side. Heard so much about it. One of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. It was my first visit at late morning. I had the usual tourist treats, and even in the 80's, it wasn't cheap. I couldn't remember how I got there but it was a hotel not too far from the Falls.

Got on a boat, Maid Of The Mist tour and watched Niagara Falls up close, pouring its heart out for everyone. But the view from the boat? All we saw was water. 
 Well, it's water, water everywhere
And not a drop to drink
So tell me now 
Oh what else can a poor fella do 
But sit right down and...*

It was like walking in heavy rain. But they gave me this plastic raincoat with a hood. Blue, I remember was the colour. Or was it yellow? Then we got into the lower part of the falls (image above), got into a boat and got wet, just so we could see Niagara above us.

It was supposed to be exciting going on this boat ride. But it wasn't. And the camera got wet (we didn't have iPhones then). And it couldn't function properly.
The mist could be seen behind me. It was cold and wet even with raincoats.

I was in that area for hours, supposedly to enjoy its unique environment and listen to the ever-roaring waters. It was special. Because the last time I saw a waterfall was at Kota Tinggi. Cannot compare. Like looking at an *attap house in Malaysia at one end and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at the other.

Had lunch alone, then tea, cakes and a simple burger for dinner. 
Then it got dark. A mist fast shrouding the area. I wasn't aware of the time. As the weather was cold, I felt my heart being squeezed tight by some unseen hand... Breathless, choking.

I was in pretty bad shape, bitter cold and fearful. I looked around me. Most folks had left, with only a few young couples idling around. The presence of the frightful heavy mist encompassing the already dark woods was eerie.
In the boat under the waterfall. Tourists were soaked. I was drenched.

Don't ever get lost in the evening, in the open, in Canada. You freeze to death. And this wasn't Winnipeg. It was Ontario. Just as gripping. 

Worse, I had read about a native Indian story, the Maid of the Mist legend where a young woman, in suicidal bereavement, got into a canoe and entered the waters above the falls.

I realised that it was only about 5 pm but it was totally dark and I knew I was lost in unknown territory.  I walked and walked and walked, quite far now from where the Falls were. Then I realised I was walking round in circles beside a high wire fencing. 
 The cold was getting through my Nike track shoes, my blue jeans and even my leather jacket. I had no muffler, no thick gloves and my skinny self could not take the icy pangs of the blowing wind. Mind you this wasn't even Winter.

This was it I told myself. Here lie I, waiting to die. I reached the road after walking up a gradual incline, and looked around, praying for someone to help me. Nothing... but only the mist and I could hardly see three feet in front of me. I trudged on and was walking for about ten minutes with really weary legs when I heard the sound of a car behind me.

Lady in Red Chris de Burgh. Video by Kawaii Mango. Nearly 6 Million viewers.

I turned around and, although dazzled by the lights, I felt the bumper nearly touching my legs, I saw this beautiful sight; a lady inside wound down her window. She was pretty. And de Burgh's music coming from her car radio:

And when you turned to me and smiled
It took my breath away
And I have never had such a feeling
Such a feeling of complete and utter love
As I do tonight

I honestly could not remember what happened after that. From the moment I stepped into the lady's car, up to the time I spoke to the concierge, what happened in between was a blank.

The biggest surprise I got, was when I spoke to the concierge to tell my tale. 

"Oh, there are haunted houses and roads near Niagara," he mentioned nonchalantly.  

"Oh," he added lamely, "you'll never get lost in the woods at Niagara. There's always a lady dressed in red, in a red car, ready to pick people who are lost."

When I asked him for the time, he replied, "It's two in the morning, sir." 


Even till today, I am confused. 


From the film "The Tommy Steele Story" - 1957 by Lionel Bart / Michael Pratt / Tommy Steele

THE LADY IN RED (You Tube Video)
Into The Light Album - June 1986
British-Irish singer-songwriter Chris de Burgh

Images: Google ones are for illustrative purpose only. A personal collection taken at Niagara Falls shows two pictures of myself in the boat.

This story is absolutely true. I was lost at Niagara Falls, walked in the cold in heavy mist and was sent to my hotel by this mysterious lady who neither spoke nor smiled at me. What happened in between remained a mystery.
Not a spook; definitely a guardian angel.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Every Day Would Be Mother's Day" Irene Hoe

Irene Hoe, who needs no introduction, is from the University of Singapore. She is a writer, editor, coach and editorial consultant and was with SPH from 1978 to 2004.  She has written and contributed to a number of books. 
She agreed to share her current Facebook story about her mum.

Thank you Irene.

It's been 13 years since my last Mother's Day with Mum. It was in January 2014, that her qigong therapist told my sister Annie and me that we could lose her at any time. "The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. For your mother, the tide is going out," he said. "In her condition, anything can happen at any time."
It was then that I decided that for however long more I had with Mum, I would try to be the best daughter I could be. And every day would be Mother's Day. It was the best decision I have ever made.
That "however long" turned out to be about four months. In that time, I composed a farewell message that friends helped me to translate and transliterate into Cantonese, and to coach me in reading it aloud to Mum (image below).
One afternoon, as she lay in bed half dozing, I sat down on her bed and began to read my farewell. When I started, she was startled into opening her eyes. She hadn't ever heard me articulate such good Cantonese before. A tear escaped one eye. Then another. Then the other eye. And pretty soon both of us were pretty much awash with tears and I was all choked up, and her pillow was sodden.

I told her that I loved her and that it didn't matter if she couldn't say those words back to me because I knew she loved me. Every time she'd call me to tell me to come home for dinner because she'd made one — or many —of my favourite dishes. Every time she'd come home late at night after working for at least 12 hours at her restaurant and despite being dead tired, she'd always place a hand on my forehead to check if I had a fever. She did that for all of us before she could finally have her bath and go to sleep.
'Mama' Single Version=Connie Francis Video by doowopAmon. Thank you.

She had slipped and fallen at home in November 2003 and though X-rays uncovered no broken bones, she had grown steadily weaker. The last meal she prepared for us was lunch on the first day of Chinese New Year 2004. She apologised that it wasn't up to standard — her standard — although of course it was delicious as usual. I think she somehow knew it would be the last time she would cook for us.
Cooking and feeding family and friends had been her life (mahjong was an an enjoyable sideline) since she closed her restaurant and retired. And not long after Chinese New Year, she couldn't even walk unaided. She found her new dentures — an idiot dentist had encouraged her to have her remaining teeth extracted — very uncomfortable, so she refused to use them and was reduced to eating soft foods. I could tell she was ready to go.
So, that afternoon when I sat by her side, I told her that I knew she was finding so little pleasure in life. "You have worked so hard. I know you are tired. You have done your job. You brought us all up and we will be all right. We will be sad but we don't want you to suffer. If you feel you want to go, I won't hold you back. I don't want you to suffer."
Not long after that she went into hospital for the last time. Her blood pressure which had always been low, inexplicably kept sliding lower and lower. Until the inevitable happened.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Horace Wee: Victoria Memorial Hall Memories n 6C's

Here's another piece of nostalgic wealth from Horace Wee, RTS/SBC guitarist, saxophonist and music guru, who had performed on many stages in Singapore. 

Inspired by an article I wrote, about a 60's Easter Ball at the Victoria Memorial Hall, he reflects about the 6 C's: Countdowns, Clock Tower, Clubs, Cordials, Cigarettes and Camaraderie. Sounds frivolous? No it isn't:

"The Victoria Memorial Hall holds many memories for me as well, having played at many functions there. The prominent promoter in the late fifties till early sixties was Kingsley Morando.* 

In fact during the British era, the New Year's Eve dance was held there and the clock tower was the center of the countdown for the new year. The atmosphere created a miniature of the countdown in London with Big Ben.

A British cigarette brand called Craven A with a black cat logo even had a special anti-cough cigarette. Another big sponsor was F&N with a crowd favourite of their fizzy orange drink in tall round bottles.
I'm still of the opinion that the surroundings around the Victoria Hall including the Cricket Club, Singapore Recreation Club and the Padang with the clock tower as the centre piece is still the ideal venue for a New Year's Eve party and countdown. It evokes the simplicity and nostalgia of the past and welcomes the modernity of the present.

Certainly an event that will give the present generation a glimpse and link to the earlier years of Singapore. It certainly would be a memorable annual event with more emotional depth, rather than the "rah rah rah, are you having a good time," being inundated with just too many flashing lights and other modern stage technics.
Incidentally, why has Singapore forgotten about Auld Lang Syne*, a very traditional way of singing good bye to the old year. This universally accepted and used tune is a wonderful segue to the countdown towards the new year. It embodies the camaraderie of people around you and at times with arms interlocked, a hope for better things to come.

Today's cold countdown of Happy New Year feels as flat as a pancake and devoid of all emotion.

Andy, you certainly triggered another thought wave."

Thank you Horace. You are an inspiration to both young and senior Singaporeans. Andy.

*Auld Lang Syne:

*Kingsley Morando was known as Mr. Talentime i.e. the Singapore 60's version of today's 
American Idol or copycat, Singapore Idol. With much entrepreneurship and sharp wits, he created an awareness of the potential in the music pop industry then. 

The information on Kingsley Morando, who initiated the Talentime contest. Certainly American Idol is not an original idea at all. Maybe Simon Cowell had British relatives stationed in Singapore those days and heard of this during ties he heard of them reminiscing. 😉

The picture of Kingsley Morando voicing his program with the technician at the record turntables is exactly when the term Disc Jockey was coined. Eventually the program announcer self operated the turntables. Perhaps to save manpower costs as well as ore flexibility in programming. 

In those years, the Radio Singapore call sign was D D B G played on a Hawaiian guitar. These are the four opening of Terang Bulan, a folk song with Indonesian/ Malay origins that became the Malaysian National Anthem.

Article: Horace Wee: Copyrights Reserved.
Images: Mun Chor Seng and Google.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Bee Gees National Theatre '72 @ $3 Michael Bangar

1st of May, 2017 Dedicated To The Bee Gees:

I wanted to put up Michael Bangar's Part 2 article about local music but here he is with another gem as he describes the Bee Gees Concert in Singapore and the tiket daun area. I thought this story just had to come out first.

Michael, let's dedicate this posting to Barry Gibb, the last of the Bee Gees, who now goes on stage alone to sing their songs. 

So Mr Gibb, if you're out there somewhere, reading this piece, it's dedicated to you and your brothers, Maurice and Robin, not forgetting Andy.

Again, thank you Mr Michael Bangar (right):

Hi Bro' Andy,

I just read your write up on The Bee Gees, 1st of May. I would like to mention that they did perform here in Singapore in 1972 in the now defunct National Theatre at Fort Canning Hill. 

And they did the show here with their original five piece line-up - the three Gibb Brothers plus lead guitarist Vince Melouney and drummer Colin Peterson. Guest band for both shows was Singapore's very own Western Union Band (image: b/w below).
It was the 24th of March, 1972. They performed two shows side by side that evening. I watched both shows with a then girl friend. We were mesmerised by their performance, i.e. their vocal harmonies and how they duplicated their recorded sound live on stage. Great shows - both. I remember paying three dollars for each ticket. How cheap it used to be!

(In the early 1970's the long hair ban in Singapore was already in place. There was a barber shop at the airport to trim the long hair of anyone entering the country. Despite the ban, the authorities allowed the Bee Gees to perform with that evening but they had to leave the island immediately after the show.)

I don't know how many of you remember the set up at the old National Theatre. I am sure some of you can recall that you could watch all the shows from the back of the Theatre's fencing up on the hill slope.
Some music fans would even climb up the trees that were there to watch the performances.  The area was filled up by those who could not afford to buy tickets. The Malay music fans labelled that area, tiket daun (leaf tickets). As I bought tickets for only the first show, we watched the second show at the tiket daun area.

This period was the Bee Gees at their pre-Saturday Night Fever period when their popularity was sliding. After the block buster film, Saturday Night Fever in 1977, they became global mega stars. So during their next tour of the Far East, they by-passed Singapore because of the long-hair ban. 
The group had also become a three piece group backed by session musicians. They did it, I think,  to follow the trend at the time of the Techno Pop Era when bands were two-piece or three-piece.

For the record, we all have fond memories of the old National Theatre. Acoustics were good. For just a few dollars we got to see the popular bands of the day - The Hollies, Middle of The Road, Christie and even Cliff Richard.
Also concerts by the Singapore bands from the 70's: The October Cherries, X'periment, Fried Ice, The X'quisites, Sweet Charity (image above), The Straydogs, Pest Infested, etc.  The theatre also featured shows by artistes of our multi-national country. 

Apparently, feed back was that there were complaints about the tiket daun situation as quite a lot of people were watching all these shows from behind the back fence. It could be one of the reasons why they shut the place down. But this is just a personal opinion.

Original article by: Michael Bangar Copyrights Reserved.
Images: Google.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Aubrey Miles From The Bambinos RIP

Condolences to the family of the late Mr Aubrey Miles

Aubrey Miles from the vocal trio, The 3 Bambinos, has passed away on 30th April 2017, according to the Straits Times obituary announcement. He was not only a school teacher, Mr Miles was also a well-known singer and entertainer on Singapore radio and television.

Together with good friend Malcolm Hyder and Thomas Paul, The Bambinos were a very entertaining act when they performed on stage in the late 50's and on the b/w TV screen in the mid 60's. 

There had been changes with the third member, so there were M. A. Gani and Herbert Chan to replace when Thomas Paul was absent.

But they were always The 3 Bambinos and had appeared way before TV came to Singapore i.e. on Radio Singapore, and was a well-known vocal group that sang jazz standards and 50's hits at dinner and dance parties and other social functions in Singapore. They made the most number of appearances in the original, Rolling Good Times. Yes, four times !

Aubrey Miles, May Your Soul Rest In Peace. 
The 3 Bambinos with Aubrey Miles (centre), Malcolm Hyder and Herbert Chan.

Image from Straits Times Press.
(This posting was slotted later after the newspaper obituary.)

Mr Aubrey Miles by Michael Bangar:

Just to mention that I was a student of his, in Secondary One to be exact. The year was 1962 and I was in Tanjong Katong Technical Secondary School. He was my teacher for two subjects, English and English Literature. I was also a member of the school National Cadet Corps that year and he was our National Cadet Corps Master. I moved on to St Patrick's School.

On the subject of The Bambinos. Their first line up was himself, Mr Malcolm Hyder and one Mr Thomas Paul. From time to time when one of them could not make it to a gig they took on stand-ins. 


Just A Thought:

It is a sad thing indeed. Aubrey Miles was a pop music celebrity during the mid 50's up to the 60's but his name was not mentioned in the newspapers these last few days. If a news piece about him has appeared then I missed it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tropicana The Musical Tan Kheng Hua Connected Friends

No need to review production. The people on duty already drew the crowd: Beatrice Chia (director), Lim Yu Beng, Karen Tan, writer Haresh Sharma, etc, etc.
With a great cast like that and the reverberations of new compositions and lyrics about the 60's, it's already a big success.
My post is just about how one lady, with her magic, SMSed us and...

Friends connected during the performances of Tropicana The Musical at the Capitol Cinema. It all started with award winning best actress of the year 2017  and producer of the show, Tan Kheng Hua inviting a few music people and others who lived those years, for a sit-in at the commencement of the production to discuss 60's music and the Tropicana nightclub.

Then surprise, surprise, she invited us to the show.

Pictures on the night of 15th April, 2017.
With 2017 award winning actress, Tan Kheng Hua, with Andy Young, George Chew (The Burns lead guitarist) before Tropicana the Musical performance at the Capitol Theatre.

With George Chew, Andy Young, Larry Lai, Rediffusion DJ and wife Selina, and the maestro himself, musician drummer, singer, Louis Soliano during the buffet dinner.

Andy with Kheng Hua, Anthony AhKim, international hairstylist, Ms Ann King, a former Miss Singapore 80's, at Corpthone King Hotel.  This gathering was a tea-break for new friends way before the performances at the Capitol.
And with Vernon Cornelius, frontman of The Quests, who still looks as youthful.
The pre-production meeting of Tropicana with Andy Young
AhKim Anthony, Larry Lai and The Straydogs and Jimmy Appudurai-chua.

The show itself, was a totally Singapore experience, and one of the best local musicals I've seen these last two years.
Thanks to Kheng Hua for the invitation.
The night ended with George Chew and I rushing to the Conrad Hotel, Singapore to watch 60's band, The Silver Strings perform their last 5 or 6 songs. Pix is a side view.

Images: Andy Young Collection.

Join Silver Strings For A Beautiful Sunday

                       AGAIN, THE COLOURFUL
            SILVER STRINGS 
                                  ON STAGE
                                             21ST MAY, 2017
                    SUNDAY MORNING
                                           10.30 AM
Band will perform a new repertoire of pop hits and instrumentals. With a surprise on stage. Ritchie, our new lady singer.

Meet them all. Get your autograph books ready.

Who's Who (Image):
Andy Purple: Vocals
Audie Blue: Band Leader, Bass 
Nick Black: Keyboard, Vocals
Michael White: Rhythm, Vocals
John Red: Drums 
Rickie Light Blue: Lead
Meet them in person: two writers for this blog, John and Michael. 
Audie is the band leader, plans the schedules, etc., 
Nick is Singapore's LOBO, our sound expert;
Rickie writes the scores for the group.
Ritchie, our new lady on stage.
You need to visit this place if you haven't. Huge, spacious and a place to rock and roll.