Tuesday, February 21, 2017

California Dreamin': Singapore Boy Henri Gann (2)

               Light My Fire: The Doors. Video: The Doors Remastered.
Part 2

By 1967, I had settled down to a life typical of many of the college students in LA. I was managing three part time jobs and commuting between school and work. With the jobs, I was able to afford a new Ford Mustang, the iconic rock and roll car of the 60's. The Mustang was an innovation of its time in car technology much like the Tesla car is today.
Cruisin' along Sunset Blvd on a Friday or Saturday night was a relaxing thing to do after a stressful week. Generally I would hangout with my college friends, who also had Mustangs, at a drive-in restaurant. The popular ones near us were Bob's Big Boy in Glendale or Tiny Naylor in Hollywood. 

After the drive-ins, we would all go for a drive through Sunset Boulevard to the Whisky A-Go-Go or the Gazzaris Club in Hollywood. The drive generally took 2 hours or more in a bumper to bumper traffic, with loud music emanating from many of the automobiles. 

George Lucas had reenacted this scene in his movie American Graffiti released in 1973. My best memories were the continuous organ and guitar solo accompaniment of the Door's: Light My Fire and the announcing of the group,  "S-t-o-n-e-s" in a studio altered echo delay voice prior to playing, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."
Exploring clubs was another thing we did  on weekends. At the Whisky-A-Go-Go we witnessed an unforgettable performance of Jim Morrison and the Doors

However, at the Odd House, a soul hits club in Santa Monica, it was the music of James Brown and Wilson Pickett. We even drove as far as Hermosa Beach one night to the Lighthouse, a popular jazz club, just to see the legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. He had a unique guitar style of soloing his music with chords which is still widely imitated by jazz guitarist today. 
Towards the end of the 60's, many of the music had a psychedelic beat to it. Most notable of these were Sgt Pepper by the Beatles and Good Vibration by the Beach Boys. 

The 5th Dimension also had a few hits from the popular musical "Hair" shown at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood. My favorites were White Rabbit by Jefferson Starship, California Dreamin' by the Mamas and Papas and If You're Going To San Francisco by Scott Mackenzie.

The end of the 60s were happy moments in my life when I met my wife, Christine.  I was visiting my friend Aziz at his uncle's club, the Fez in Hollywood. She and her friend Bernie were trying to catch a bus home near the Fez late one night after visiting the Aquarius Theater

Being from UK and having just been in LA for a few days, they did not know that there was no bus service after midnight in LA. My offer to drive them home led to a new life for all of us. First, my friend Aziz and Bernie tied their knot and than we did in 1970 when I left LA for Amherst, Massachusetts to do my post graduate studies.
In a short period of 5 years in the 60's, I had accomplished my American dream. To this day, the 60's music still bring back wonderful memories of my journey to America. My interest in cars continued through the 80's when I bought two Ferraris.

Spotify for connection:

Read Part 1: Singapore Boy Makes Good: Henri Gann:

Article and Images from: Henri Gann (Copyrights Reserved).
                California Dreamin': Mamas n Papas Video by: acyrgodoy

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Singapore Boy Makes Good In USA: Henri Gann (1)

         Tony Bennett I Left My Heart In S.F.  Video by Denise D'Amico

A Letter from Los Angeles, California:

Henri Gann is back with his life adventure in the United States where he lives today. He punctuates his story by providing readers about the music and songs he loves, the DJ's he listens to and the cars he drives. The ultimate was to be able to witness live the guitar groups of the 60's when they visited his campus.

Last year at around Chinese New Year, I wrote about my band The Trekkers. Now, I would like to write about what came after The Trekkers: my journey to the United States.

When I left Singapore in 1964, I left behind a growing surf guitar scene and my band The Trekkers.*  Leaving home for America was exciting. It overwhelmed all rational thinking especially for an eighteen year old. 
While I loved playing music with my guitar group, I had assumed that I could follow the same routine in Singapore. It did not take long for me to realize that I would have to focus on my studies in Los Angeles and find ways to support my stay in America. Still, music played a meaningful role in my life and I soon found the music scene intimate connection with the LA's car culture. 

I set sailed on the American President Lines SS Wilson. It was a 21-day journey from Hong Kong to San Francisco. With no news from home and without the convenience of today's internet, the long journey on the ship turned my excitement into anxious days. 

I will always remember that homesick feeling whenever I hear the song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" which was played by the ship's three piece jazz band on that long journey.
Arriving in San Francisco I was amazed by the sight of the fog slowly lifting off the Golden Gate Bridge as the ship sailed  through San Francisco Bay. I gave myself a few days in the city before contacting the International Student Services. I was introduced first to a family that lived in Mountain View and than to another who gave me a ride to Hermosa Beach in Southern California. 

Approaching LA, I was mesmerized by the many fast cars on the freeways. And at the beach home of my host family, I played my guitar with kids in the neighborhood. A week later, I moved inland to a suburban city, Glendale, California. Another host family took me in for a few months so that I could get adjusted to college life. I did odd jobs for $1.25 per hour to pay for my college expenses. 

For the first few months, I hitched rides to school as public transportation was scarce in Los Angeles. One of my first rides was with a fellow student who drove a GTO. He was blasting his car radio with the music of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sonny and Cher, and Jan and Dean. I had discovered the pleasure of listening to car radio while driving. 
It did not take me long to save up money from my part time job to buy an old car. I bought a Plymouth Fury '57 for $350. It had all the new modern features such as an automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes which made learning to drive the car easy. 

I explored the various radio stations: Boss Radio KHJ (93.0) KFWB (98.0) and KRLA (111.0)  and listened to the deejays each with a unique name like Boss Jock Sam Riddle, Bob Morgan and his Good Morgan, Angeles, Humble Harve and the Real Don Steele. Most interesting of the Deejays were Wolfman Jack and his nightly "wolf howl" and Casey Kasem with his famous sign-off line "keeping your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."
                         The Association 'Windy' Video by Ross Peeler

Soon after the Beatles came to LA in 1964, many British bands followed. These groups were promoted aggressively on television: by Dick Clarke in his American Bandstand and in Shindig and Hullabaloo. All the shows were recorded in a live audience setting.

Occasionally an artist would perform on campus to promote their records.
I saw groups like the Surfaris playing Wipeout and the Association singing Windy and Never My Love. It was a new experience for me to be able to watch these groups that I had just heard on the radio.

Article/Images: Copyrights Reserved (Henri Gann).

To Be Continued in Part 2

Join me down memory lane for a nostalgic Spotify listening tour in my cars of the 60s: The Plymouth Fury' 57 ( 1965 - 1966 )

A special thanks to my daughter Carolyn for her help with editing my story.

*You can read more about The Trekkers adventure here:

Henri Gann in Singapore with the Lion Dance Gang

Friday, February 17, 2017

American Pie Lyrics Sold McLean Explains Imagery

1. The Incident Happened:
It was nearly 60 years ago when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. The Big Bopper  were killed on February 3, 1959. These three rock and roll musicians died in a plane crash near Iowa, their pilot Roger Peterson included. 

The tragedy was known as The Day the Music Died, as singer-songwriter Don McLean referred to it in his 1971 song American Pie.

2. The Song Was Written:
Many interpretations as to the meaning of the song appeared in the media after it was released but no one could pin-point the symbolic phrases behind the composition until lonestarsound* who produced the video, claimed that he spoke first hand with many of the people who knew the truth behind the accident. One of them was Tommy Allsup who flipped the coin with Ritchie Valens and Valens sealed his own fate with the toss.

Many people are still discussing the song today and I find it to be one of the best originally composed musical thesis ever written. It is how a song should be written was the remark made when it received an award. Even Madonna has made a cover of the hit.

McLean has since sold his original copies of the lyrics for more than a million US dollars in 2015.

3. The Composer Explained:
"People ask me if I left the lyrics open to ambiguity. Of course I did. I wanted to make a whole series of complex statements. The lyrics had to do with the state of society at that time."

"I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015. There is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of American Pie.

"Basically in American Pie, things are heading in the wrong direction. It is becoming less idyllic... It is a morality song in a sense."

Three Quotes From Washington Post: by Justin Wm Moyer: 8.4.2015. Edited.

                               *lonestarsound produced this video.

4. The Singer Came:
Singapore had a taste of American Pie when McLean came to Singapore in 2011. He performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall in February that year with: And I Love You So, Empty Chairs, Winterwood, Crossroads, Castles In The Air, Wonderful Baby, Beatles' cover of In My Life, Love Hurts, Jerusalem, Tulsa Time and Superman's Ghost. Not forgetting, Vincent, American Pie. The applause was rapturous with standing ovations'

The concert, according to the writer who attended the show fell short of his expectations. It was only 90 minutes as compared to the Eagles gig which lasted 3 hours.  His song arrangements were in lower keys and McLean did not sing from his new album, Addicted To Black. Still the writer enjoyed McLean's concert - by Han Chiaw Juan from: Don McLean Online (Edited).

Images: Google.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sungei Road Flea Mart Singapore Walk Right Back

I want you to tell me, Why you walked out on me, I'm so lonesome every day...

Sungei Road or Thieves Market will soon be gone, literally taken off the streets and its area transformed for urban rejuvenation. People from all over the world have visited this place since the 1930's to buy nostalgia. One is VINYL. There were many such makeshift stalls in this central area in Singapore selling records, but today you need to hunt the two or three makeshifts that might have them.

By the middle of this year, Robinson Petang will be no more. Like so many of the 60's international and local pop musicians who are gone, Sungei Road will pass away in mid-2017. Extensions are unlikely so it's R.I.P. to Singapore's only Flea Market (15/02/2017).
Walk Right Back With The Everlys - 20 Golden Hits
The article below was written in 2013.


In the early 60's, they transformed the bluegrass sound of their Kentucky (USA) boyhood into a richly harmonised form of rock n roll and this close harmony vocals influenced many singers from the West.  Similarly in the East, Indonesian/Dutch duos like The Blue Diamonds, Singapore's Cyclones and Malaysia's Mike and Herb followed their unique style.

The above vinyl record is one of those rare finds I walked away with for only $2.00.  On the internet it's about $20.00 or so and that's without shipping cost.  Not a collectible but with twenty songs in the pocket and all genuine recordings by the Everly Brothers.  What more could I ask for? 

Sungei Road Yesterday. Called Robinson Petang.
It's a 1975 mint conditioned Warner Brothers recording distributed by WEA Records Ltd.  I love the artwork by Mick Brownfield on the cover and overall album sleeve design by Graves Aslett Associates. 

Some tracks are re-recorded versions of their Cadence hits, the result of a nostalgic recording session held in Nashville, Tennessee in 1962.  If you're an Everly Brothers fan there's even a Chart Position for US/UK/Year for the 20 songs.  

The Blues Diamonds inspirationally Everlys.
I bought this particular record two years ago when #Sungei Road was still wide enough to accommodate the sellers and make-shift stalls in the area but now with the building of the MRT, the place has shrunk to nearly half its size.  Or even less than that? 

The Brothers inspired a generation of musicians from the Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel.  Dressed in snazzy outfits and sporting pompadours, they offered instant appeal to teenagers who easily identified with their songs about dating parents and high school. 
                                         Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back from: petermfh59.

In 1960, Phil and Don Everly sold eight million copies of their worldwide hit Cathy's Clown.  Between 1957 and 1965 they notched-up a collective total of over 35 million singles and albums.  Many of their biggest hits were penned by Boudleaux Bryant and wife Felice. 

For this particular album, the tracks were cut in Nashville under Chet Atkins who had worked with Elvis Presley.  They include most of their hits with others like Love Hurts, Love Is Strange, How Can I Meet Her, Temptation, Don't Blame Me, So Sad, No One Can Make My Sunshine Smile, The Ferris Wheel, The Price of Love and Muskrat.  On July 14th 1973, they announced their last concert appearance together each preferring to follow a solo career.
Phil Everly, half of Grammy-winning duo The Everly Brothers, passed away in January 2014, aged 74.

I want you to know that/ Since you walked out on me/ Nothing seems to be the same way... 

#In case you're a tourist who's never been to Singapore, Sungei Road used to be called Thieves' Market or Robinson Petang (evening Robinson's Department Store). Not any more but lots of second-hand goods and if you're lucky you can find some vinyl records.
Images: Google.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine Day Songs Through The Years

Greeting Cards And Roses Sell Well:
"Valentine’s Day is the February 14th holiday where lovers traditionally exchange love notes and romantic gifts. According to the U.S.Greeting Card Association, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular day for sending greeting cards trailing only Christmas. Recently, more and more valentines are sent electronically."

Any Valentine Song?

I went through many websites in search of songs suitable for Valentine's Day and then realise that many songs from the 50's, 60's and 70's are love songs, meant to be sung anytime between lovers and not necessarily during special occasions.

So here's my own personal list of love songs for Valentine's Day with the #first and last song as favourites:
The Silver Strings with Shirley Nair You're The Boy. Video: Cap Oldies

Andy's Personal List Of Love Songs:

Singapore Pops:

1) Within You'll Remain - Tokyo Square
1) My Lonely Heart - The Thunderbirds
2) You're The Boy - The Silver Strings
3) I Know - Naomi and The Boys
4) Selina - The Dukes
5) Love Is Blue - Heather
International Pops

1) Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? - Jim Reeves#
2) Fly Me To The Moon - Brenda Lee, Frank Sinatra
3) Eternally - Petula Clark
4) Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
5) Fascination - Jane Morgan

6) I Love You For Sentimental Reasons - Dinah Shore
7) A Groovy Kind of Love - Mindbender, Petula Clark
8) All You Need Is Love - Beatles
9) Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
10) Can’t Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley

11) I'll Be There - Michael Jackson
12) I Love You Because - Jim Reeves
13) I Want To Hold Your Hand - Beatles
14) You Belong To My Heart - Bing Crosby
15) You Belong To Me - Jo Stafford

16) And I Love Her - Beatles
17) I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles
18) Endless Love -Lionel Ritchie
19) I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
20) How Deep Is Your Love - Bee Gees

21) To Know Him Is To Love Him - The Teddy Bears
22) That's Amore - Dean Martin
23) To Sir With Love - Lulu
24) Roses Are Red -Bobby Vinton
25) Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain and Tenille

26) I Think I Love You - Partridge Family
27) She Loves You - Beatles
28) What's Love Got To Do With It - Tina Turner
29) This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert n Tijuana Brass
30) If I Give My Heart To You - Doris Day
31) Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley#

A Happy Valentine's Day To All.

Original Article: Andy Lim Collection.
Image: Google.

(This article is a repeat from 2010)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Al Jarreau "Breakin' Away" For Always

Al Jarreau, the jazz cum pop musician best known for toppers like, Breakin' Away, We're in This Love Together, the theme song to pop TV show, Moonlighting (1980's) and more than 20 albums, died @ 76 years on Sunday morning in Los Angeles surrounded by his wife, son and friends.
    Mr Jarreau was  called, "the Acrobat of Scat" for his own vocal stylings and one of few singers who could erase the line between pop, jazz, rhythm and blues. He won seven Grammy Awards and was active and a go-getter all the way, performing since he was four years young. 
    One of the most exciting and critically acclaimed stars of our time, his spontaneous ways in front of the microphone and on stage, together with his soulful lyrics, had made him a very special artiste. 
    He performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore in October, 2009.
    May he Rest In Peace.
    Video: Moonlighting Vivianna Yansen.

    Sunday, February 12, 2017

    Botanic Gardens: Tree Crashes Day After Valentine Gig

    12 February, 2017, Singapore:

    An iconic tembusu tree, near the Symphonic Stage and very close to the statues of Chopin and his wife, toppled and crashed late yesterday on Chap Goh May afternoon of 11 February, just three days before Valentine's Day on 14 February.

    The night before the tembusu tree toppled, my wife and I were witnessing the last half an hour of a concert by well-known duet Jack and Rai (image) during the Botanic Garden's Valentine's Day celebration this year. 

    The guitar strums of the duo were vibrantly contrasting and bright to the still and quiet of the evening, but they seemed to mellow with the trees and cool breeze. And Jack and Rai played with excellence and skill. Very talented twosome indeed.

    There was a good evening crowd, with many young couples, some with children. A few stalls, by the wayside facing the iconic white gazebo, were manned by youth, selling food, drinks and souvenirs. 

    It was actually our routine evening walk in the Gardens and we just managed to catch Jack and Rai singing two Beatles songs, the last one, Hey Jude. The duo surely spurred the spontaneous crowd to sing the refrain. Only a few weeks ago PM Lee Hsien Loong obliged a selfie with me at the same spot where the gig was held.

    After the show we had to pass the tembusu tree and walking towards our car, near the coffee house on the Dalvey Road/Nassim Road side of the Gardens. We were discussing how old many of the trees were. They were perhaps older than the Gardens itself. 

    With the present heavy rains and thunderstorms, we were concerned about the safety of people who patronized the area. It was a strange co-incidence to have discussed the calamity before it happened the next day.

    According to news reports one lady had passed away and a few others were injured during the incident. We send condolences to the bereaved family and hope the rest who were at the scene are safe and unharmed.

    The Botanic Gardens is a lovely place to visit. My grand children and I visit it often, most times in the late afternoon. The kids could run wild and scream in the large open areas. 

    But be more careful walking by the side of the lakes when feeding the fishes and turtles. There is no fencing around the lakes and the pigeons could be too friendly, flying close to children who are near the edge of these lakes. A safe place it is but sometimes danger lurks as it would anywhere else.

    This posting explains the incident as it is. There is no intention to criticize any organisation, party or individual. Please write to blogger if information is inaccurate and post will be deleted.

    Images: Botanical Gardens Facebook and Website.
               Jack and Rai Make You Feel My Love: (cover Bob Dylan)

    Tuesday, February 07, 2017

    Lady Gaga Super Bowl 2017 Jazz n Tony Bennett

    An original article:

    Whether you're into today's pop music or otherwise, Lady Gaga doesn't need any introduction. Her very name invites discussion and her chameleon-like changes of face, hair style, costume, has made her an enigma, even today. Many seniors who love 60's music may have heard of her but do not know her music.

    She has the voice range of a contralto, the lowest female voice type, that is, soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto. And her songs like Just DanceBad Romance, Poker Face, Paparazzi, Edge of Glory, Born This Way and Telephone are some of her hits.  She is considered to be one of the best selling musicians of all time.

    Born in the mid 80's she grew up listening to the music of The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Pink Floyd, Mariah Carey, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and others.
                        Lady Is A Tramp (Video by: tonybennettVIVO) 

    So why is she appearing on a 60's music blog?

    I've been watching her on You Tube (not live when she was here a few years ago) and appreciate some of her current hits but when I saw her perform again at half-time during the Super Bowl 2017 a few days ago, with her super-league championship display of vocal, musical and acrobatic talents, I realise she must be introduced to Singapore Seniors.

    Whenever I asked some music friends to listen to her, the first usual comment would be their demolition of her strange name.  And they are not impressed. 

    "Give me Aretha Franklin or Nancy Wilson anytime," they would reply.

    "Or Natalie Cole," another senior would remark. 

    "Yes and Connie Francis," said a third.

    Her name describes her because I went gaga the first time I saw her on You Tube with Tony Bennett singing, The Lady Is A Tramp, a hot jazz standard with most all Singapore seniors and still hot today. And a classy tramp with a beautiful voice she was. 

    Now why would a current pop singer with about 175 million albums and singles sold be interested in recording old jazz classics?

    Here's the story. In 2011, after listening to Lady Gaga sing Nat Cole's Orange Colored Sky, Tony Bennett invited her to record Lady is a Tramp with him on Duet II, an album of jazz hits that included Michael Buble, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin and Sheryl Crow among other  greats. 

    Who Can I Turn To, The Way You Look Tonight, Stranger In Paradise and On The Sunny Side of the Street were some of the songs recorded.
    Then in late 2014, Lady Gaga did another jazz album with Tony Bennett. This time around she shared her album with no one except Bennett alone and singing with him, Cheek To Cheek

    Standards included those composed by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. It was Lady Gaga's wish to introduce these songs to a younger generation of listeners as the songs are evergreens and have universal appeal.

    In mid 2014, she started promoting the album. Her performances were either with or without Tony Bennett. At the same time, she decided to have another tattoo, a Miles Davies trumpet and proclaimed, "Its jazz time, world!"
    They appeared at venues with smaller audiences and if you watch some of their videos on You Tube, you should be convinced that she belongs in the class of one of the world's great jazz singers.

    Cheek To Cheek, Nature Boy, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Sophisticated Lady and Goody Goody are just some of the songs I am familiar with. 

    Bridge the generation gap with her jazz goldies and like Christina Aguilar (*read my posting of her with Cher), I appreciate Lady Gaga just as much.

    So senior readers, here is  Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Don't go gaga watching her. Listen to her sing...

    Disclaimer: This post does not promote any album by any artiste. 

    Read Cher and Christina Aguilar:

                           Cheek To Cheek (Video by: Ruben Christian)

    Images: Google.  

    Her many faces taken from:

    You Tube: Lady Is A Tramp (tonybennettVIVO) and Cheek To Cheek (Ruben Christian)
                                    I Wish @ Stevie Wonder Tribute.