Sunday, October 21, 2018

International Stars @ National Theatre: Stephen Han

The National Theatre Singapore 60s had many international stars on stage.

Mr Stephen Han (right) was a pop sixties enthusiast way back when. He is still one today and a regular concert goer for many of the pop 60's shows so currently in demand amongst the seniors.

When I asked Stephen if he could write an article again for this blog he agreed. He writes well, has such a good memory, that remembering names and occasions have always been easy. This piece is the second by Mr Han. he has written one about meeting Rita Moreno at the Cathay Cinema.*

Again thanks, Stephen.

Singers, Bands, Local And Abroad:

The National Theatre had been demolished many years ago but the memories of the many concerts and shows still linger in my mind.

The first concert I attended in the early 60s was performed by Brenda Lee a.k.a. Miss Dynamite. Her voice was so sweet on numbers like 'Walk Away' and 'Johnny One Time' and so powerful on 'Dum Dum'. Petite and pretty Miss Lee was a great attraction with the crowd.

I can also vividly recall that other American recording stars like Eartha Kitt, Nancy Wilson and my idols, Pat Boone and Johnny Mathis had also performed at this theatre. Popular big bands like Xavier Cugat, Edmundo Ros, Perez Prado and the German band James Last drew large crowds. 

During the British Invasion when the hits of the Beatles and other bands were popular, lots of groups from the United Kingdom came over to showcase their talent. I had the pleasure of watching The Bee Gees featuring the late Robin Gibbs as lead singer. Others who came included The Hollies, Dave Clark 5, Herman's Hermits, Freddie and The Dreamers.

There was a Taekwondo (TKD) variety show that featured the physical might of Rhee Khee Har. His wife was a local singer, very p
opular those years, called June Mok. Do you still remember that name?
It was an unforgettable sight watching Mr Rhee, a powerful man, displaying his kata (form) and quick-as-lightning TKD kicks. Bricks and planks were smashed to smithereens when he used his weapons, his hands. This Korean martial art was popular during the 60's. Even the Filipino group D'Starlites displayed their ability before each music performance.

Many of our Singapore concerts like these ones discussed were organised by pioneer show promoter, Johnnie Young. (Johnnie was a good friend of Stephen Han as the picture below shows; extreme right: Johnnie Young, with sweater: Stephen Han.) 
One of Johnnie's notable shows was the Sanyo Spectacular in 1969. It featured the well-known dancing duo, Sunny and Betty Low. They were a brother and sister team and wowed the audiences in the 60's with their rock n roll and famous Cha Cha Cha and Mambo steps and costumes.

Crowd favourites included Sakura and Rita Chao who sang with the backing of The Stylers, a band so famous that they were the accompanying guitar guys for many top singers and recording artistes for both the Chinese and English crowds.

As I write this article the sound of 60's music can be heard ringing in my ears.

Dates and venues may not be accurate as many postings on this blog have been written from memory. 

Written by Stephen Han.
Images: Stephen Han (Copyrighted). 
YouTube video: 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Performing For Singapore Presidents, Prime Ministers, Malaysian Royalties: By Michael Bangar

Again, with much pleasure, this article is another of many stories that Michael Bangar has contributed. I must thank him for his generosity and the friendship we have developed throughout the years. It is, without doubt, he and his band members are the most versatile music makers in Singapore.
Thank you Mike.
The Wild Wild West With DJ Brian Richmond and the Band. Their Colt 45's have been retained by security at the door 😉

"Very seldom do I blow my own trumpet. I hope you all don't mind. Another Music Topic. But I just need to talk about This Group Of Guys that I had Great Pleasure Of Playing Music With. The Band with multiple names: Katz Konnection (Jerry's), Country Gentlemen (Donald's), Mixed Combination (Jeffery's), Transit (Ivor's) & The NewNotes ( mine).

Lead Guitarist: the late Donald Thaver( Ivor Lesslar took his place later ). From time to time we also played with Peter Gonzales & Roland Shepherdson too ( Good Guitar Players as well ). Bass Guitarist Jeffery Pinto ( we played with Stephen De Souza too. Good Bassist ). Drummer Ramon Francis ( we also played with Drummers Chris Miles, Stephen Gomez (also a guitarist), Patrick Fernando - Very Good Drummers too). And last but not least, the multiple -  instrumentalist Jerry Murad: Sax / Flute. They all did lead vocal duties and vocal harmony too. The Band did strictly gigs when we first got together in January 1987 -  to date.

A short while later, we did a gig for Mr Conrad Rappa ( a veteran music man from the 40's & 50's who had the title Spore's Jim Reeves bestowed upon him ) and he put Jerry Murad with the 4 of us and we evolved into a 5pce. And the gigs just kept on rolling in.

With Mr Lim Boon Heng and Chief Steward of Shangri-la Hotel and the band.

After a while, we realised how well we got on together musically. All of us had come from so many different bands and unknowingly brought along with us our variety of musical experiences. Effortlessly we went from one musical genre to another. Oldies, Jazz, Country & Western, Rock,  Pop Hits Of The Day & even a few Classical Numbers.

Our repertoire covered the big hits of the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's & beyond. We performed covers of songs by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams to Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Roy Orbison to Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tony Christie, John Rowles etc. We covered the big hits of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, Hermans Hermits, The Byrds, The Eagles &  generally covering as much of The Oldies.

We did a lot of instrumentals by The Shadows, The Ventures, The Jumping Jewels, Big Band Stuff, Bossa Nova & Jazz Instrumentals, etc. Jerry, Ramon and Jeffery could even do different language songs like Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Chinese ( a few Mandarin, Hokkien & Cantonese numbers ) even some Japanese, Thai, French, Italian Hits.  With all the music genres that we covered, we could also play Dondang Sayang, Keroncong and Dangdut.

 We were one of a few bands that got into the function circuit when it was at its peak. So we had to have a wide repertoire to try to please as much of the International audience as we could. We did gigs at almost all the major hotels, country clubs and convention centres.
Professor Jayakumar and the band in bow-ties and black suits.

I must not forget to mention that when the need arose, we could go from solo performances to 2piece, 3, 4, 5 even up to 10pce. band line - up. This is the electric band set up. We even used to take on strolling gigs ( called Mariachi - in the West ). 1, 2, 3, 4 and even 5pce. Strolling lineups, going round the table to table routine, corner to corner even restaurants to restaurants, using acoustic instruments as you all kinds.

Dignitaries we have performed in front of- Presidents - the late Mr Wee Kim Wee, the late Mr S R Nathan, the late Indo President Suharto ( when he & then S'pore PM Mr Goh Chok Tong did The Grand Opening of The Hotel Sedona Resort in Bintan Lagoon ). Dad & son Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew & Lee Hsien Loong ( even his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang & his Mrs.).

Old Guard Ministers : Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Dr. Toh Chin Chye, Mr. E W Barker. Ministers Prof. Jayakumar, Abdullah  Tarmugi ( we played for his 60th. Birthday Party ), Mr. Lim Boon Heng, Mr. Lee Boon Yang, Mr. Yatiman Yusof, Mr Chandra Das, Mr. Ibrahim Othman, Dr Ahmad Mattar, etc. Yeo Ning Hong.

Many years ago, for some Malaysian Royalties too. The then Sultans of Perak, Kedah, Selangor and a Birthday Party of the then Tengku Mahkota Of Johore, currently The Sultan.

With President Tony Tan in 1998 at dinner as Michael Bangar's band strolled the floor.

During that period, we averaged 12 gigs per month from January 1987 onwards. I had a habit of recording details of all my gigs in my diary.

The month of December 1999, heading on into the new millennium we did 22 gigs that month. Sometimes 2 even 3 per day. How good times were during that period."

With Dr Yeo Ning Hong and the late Mr E.W. Barker and the band.

This article and its photographs have been posted in good faith. If there is any objection to their publication, do write in on the Comment Page and, with appropriate reasons, they will be deleted.

Images: Michael Bangar Collection.
Written by Michael Bangar verbatim.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Jimmy Chan: Singapore's Favourite Pianist Ever

I've yet to meet Jimmy Chan again after the last time at Grandma Mary's home but we kept in touch on the mobile phone. And it is the same question again and again, "When are you coming to Tiong Bahru market for kopi Andy?" But we never met although he agreed to our interview on the phone.

Thanks, Jimmy.

Jimmy Chan is on YouTube

If you meet Jimmy Chan you won't know he's a maestro at the piano. Humble, quiet and always keeping away from the limelight, I easily identify him as Gentleman Jim. Yes, he's a gentleman all the way. 

Jimmy is a natural with the piano. Without notes on his piano music rack and without having to refer to music sheets, Jimmy is able to play most any song by heart. From jazz standards to pops, classical pieces or Latin and depending on what he's playing, his fingers would either dexterously fly or gently touch on the ivories, depending on the melody he is interpreting.

There's a uniqueness about his performance because he plays from within, inspired, feeling the melody so much that he would posture himself close to the piano near the keyboard with his head to one side (image below), transported into his world, one where his melodies flow naturally without assistance from any structured documentation. The classical pianist.
He is not like some keyboard players (not pianists) who read from the notes direct and sounding like the auto-chords on many computer-enhanced organs in the market. Anyone could play on these gadgets without feel or purpose. But not Jimmy. He delivers with soul and silent perpetuity. 

In the early sixties, Jimmy Chan used to work in a bank in Singapore. He was known enough to be with a popular big band called The Flamingos and accompanied singer Robert Song and vocal group, The Gay Lads.  The Trailers, another established guitar group, held on to Jimmy when he joined them afterwards.

He only left his job at the bank after The Quests invited him to join this already pop guitar group for a contract in Hong Kong. Count the years because he was in Suzie Wong's world for some time.

After completing his stint he came home and because he was popular and well-loved at the Mandarin Hotel, Singapore, the management engaged him for 20 years. Now twenty years is a long time and Jimmy became the official pianist at the first class hotel at Orchard Road from 1974 to 1994.

He joined Dennis Foo at his Club 97 for two years after he left and went over to the other Mandarin, the Marina Mandarin in 1996. You can still enjoy his piano serenades at the same hotel on any week evenings from 6.30 to 8.00 except Sunday. (He would be on leave now.)

I have a few Chinese songs on vinyl since Jimmy had recorded many pop instrumentals on cassettes and CDs. It was great to have him autograph one of them (image above). But I wanted to listen to more of Jimmy's recordings, so a friend's wife obliged and handed me a pile of his CDs; they were a mile high. She is a fan!

"All his recordings," she mentioned, "He's my favourite star." I glanced at her husband and smiled. He was flabbergasted.

A few years ago a group of us with Jimmy, Larry Lai, the late Tan Swee Leong and our wives and lady friends, were at Grandma Mary's home for a private function with her family. After Swee Leong's favourite mee-siam dinner we were entertained by Gentleman Jim. 

His songs on the ivory tinkled the night away. The Eddy Duchin Theme song when Kim Novak swayed in the moonlight with Gregory Peck in Picnic, took me years back when I saw the movie at the Capitol Cinema. 

Jimmy also played Chinese melodies by Teresa Teng and other Chinese pops; April Love was sung by - surprise, surprise, Larry Lai - with other love hits of the era.

Requests for piano favourites reached the sky and no one wanted to go home that evening; everyone was humming, whistling or singing to the maestro's performance.

(from left, clockwise): Andy Young, the late Tan Swee Leong, Larry Lai, Grandma Mary and Jimmy Chan.

Jimmy mesmerises his audience like no piano man can. He is no keyboardist but a concert pianist and definitely one of the best amongst SG musicians.
One posting isn't sufficient for this great pianist but he promised a more detailed one soon. 

Thanks, Jimmy for entertainment plus.

Connect to the Grandma Mary meet:
An original article by Andy Lim.
Images: A Private Collection.
Copyrights Reserved.

From the pages of Jimmy Chan's fan, FRED CHING's Facebook postings.

Monday, October 01, 2018


This posting is not about Japanese Elvis Presley Tribute Artistes but about the interpretation of the song Jailhouse Rock. Listen to how the Japanese lyrics combine well with the English words used. They really locked it. Oooooh!

You heard and witnessed the Hindi or Bollywood version earlier; here are two more versions from the land of the rising sun. Compare them, as both are serious interpretations, one a Japanese copy but the other a totally new ideal about county jail conditions.

 Masaaki Hirao with Jailhouse Rock (1958). Video from Legends Never Die. Thank you.

Listen first to the copy version, from JEPTA (Japan's Elvis Presley Tribute Artiste) Masaaki Hirao's and the other a true depiction of what really happened in that jail that used to house Elvis, with sound effects and all.
Please take these musicians seriously 😎.
Because they do.

And a big thank you to the people behind these wonderful videos without whom these postings would never have been available.

Read this one too. Click connection:

Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock Video by rotocanum. Thank you very much.

This posting is for good friend Michael Bangar, whose understanding of the pop music world, both locally and internationally is beyond many of us. I am sure he has much to say about these interpretations.

Images and Videos: Google and YouTube.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Quiz Trivia Or Whatever On 60's Music, Etc




Guess 5 correct and you're good because some are Singaporeans.
No prizes to be given out. It's just fun and games like this blog.
Thanks for bearing with my nonsense.

Images mostly from Google.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mooncake Festival (城里的月光) In Singapore 2018

As a child, I enjoyed the mooncakes provided by my mother. She would go all the way to North Bridge Road to buy them from a particular shop that was supposed to be selling the best moon-cakes on our island.

When you take a bus to this shop, look out from the window and you will see this huge building with a giant poster hanging on the outside wall, displaying a picture of the prettiest and most famous lady that season, the Queen of the Mooncakes. 

Most of us are familiar with mooncakes and the myriads found commercially today in different colours and shapes (ugh, they get so ugly and tasteless). I go beyond the cakes and try to learn the many Chinese moon songs? Some came from my mother...
Under The Silvery Moon (在银色月光下 俞淑琴) Video from Philopentatonia

Here's a short, short list of Chinese songs with moon themes that could get you going, some classics, some new:

Go After The Moon (月亮走我也走)
Blooming Flowers, Full Moon (月圓花好)
Moonlight In The City (城里的月光)

Moon On the 15th (十五的月亮)
Under The Silvery Moon (在银色月光下 俞淑琴)
Half Moon Rising (半个月亮爬上来)

The Crescent Moon (弯弯的月亮)
Look At The Moon's Face  (你看你看月亮的脸)
Like The Moon, Like The Stars (如月如星)
Wishing We Could Last Forever (但愿人长久)
The Moon Cries Privately (月亮偷着哭)
It Was The Fault Of The Moon (都是月亮惹的祸)

The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心)
Western Cool Moon (西凉月) 
Abyss Moon (黄泉月)

A lovely Mid-Autumn Festival to all readers.

Most of the above songs were selected by Peter Wang for a culture and history magazine called, China Whisper.) 

Moon Festival and Moon Symbols. Check them out:

Images and YouTube Videos

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Anneke Gronloh Is Gone: A Tribute From Singapore

June 1942 to September 2018

Reaching  5,000 

 readers to date 

She has one of the most powerhouse voices in local 60's pop music history. With her trademark Dutch, Indonesian electrifying 'r' consonant pronunciation and pretty sparkling eyes, you remember her as Anneke.

At 76 another pop singer from the 60's has passed away. Anneke Gronloh famous for her hit song, Boeroeng Kakak Tua, Nina Bobo, Asmara (Love)  and a cover Mama He's Making Eyes At Me, died, according to news items, of a lung ailment. Altogether, especially in Europe and South East Asia, she was a huge success and sold millions of records.

I have always loved her singing on the first vinyl record I bought, the one that brought her accolades in our local pop 60's scene, with the four magical Indonesian folk songs: Boeroeng Kaka, Nina Bobo, Bengawan Solo and O, o, o, Papadja. This combination on one Extended Play vinyl was a commercial success, cleverly packaged to please both young and old.
Nearly every lady singer who appears in a 60's music show in Singapore would go on stage to perform Gronloh's Boeroeng Kakak Tua with the unending Lechrum, lechrum, letchrum, ooh, la, la. Even little children sing this refrain everywhere. She was loved by many of her fans, even today. 

Ms Gronloh was hugely popular in Singapore and the East and had been a regular visitor on this island many times, with the late Blue Diamonds brothers, Ruud and Riem de Wolff, pop singers on their own merit and just as successful. And their favourite stay-place was the Goodwood Park Hotel. They formed a great team these three Indonesian/Dutch friends (an LP with the Hotel facade below).
Strange that two of my grandchildren and I were singing Burung Kakak only last week at home as we shouted in unison the famous refrain.

Rest in Peace, sweet Anneke. I have more than 20 of your English, Indonesian and Dutch Long Plays, Singles and EP's so it'll be Anneke Gronloh remembrance night for us at home. 

Condolences to her family.

Check this one out:
Images: Google and a Personal Collection.
Video: YouTube.
My own personal collection of Anneke EPs. Lovely to look at and mostly in mint condition.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


An Indian film created quite a sensation when it was shown in 2010 and proved quite a success. I just loved the video that highlighted the music scene in the movie, which showed a version of JAILHOUSE ROCK that I have never witnessed before on screen. Riotous and explosive it showed that the talent exposed by the Indian film industry is far better than any show that I've seen on our local TV or movie productions.

Dil Khol Ke - Jail House Rock Song: Dharma Productions. Thank you.

Directed by Siddharth Malhotra and Karan Johar, here dear readers, is one of the better Jailhouse Rock music dramatisations. The movie starred Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapor and Kajol.

I used to go watch Hindustani movies as a child, at the Garrick and Taj Cinemas in Geylang Serai and the Queens Cinema at Geylang. The fantasy scripts and screen action were not as far-fetched as it is today. The movies were enjoyable and some of the songs still stick in my mind. You can read about my experience watching Bollywood shows by clicking the connection below:



Thanks to: