SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY'S POP MUSIC INFLUENCE: ON THE MUSIC N MEMORY TRAIL IS MY OWN BLOG N ROLL PROJECT. NOSTALGIA IS PERSONAL HISTORY N PICTURES TELL STORIES. (I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO YOU-TUBE VIDEOS, AUDIO TRACKS OR IMAGES. THEY ARE UPLOADED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY. MOST ARTICLES AND SOME IMAGES ARE ORIGINAL, COPYRIGHTED AND LABELLED SUCH. KNOWLEDGE IS FREE. COPYRIGHTS ARE NOT. ANDY YOUNG. November, 2008).





BUDDY RICH: LAST PERFORMANCE

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Racial Riot: Kallang Gas Works 21st July 1964

This story was featured on 23rd November, 2014 during Brian Richmond's 90.5fm radio show, Sundays With Brian during the Reminiscing with Andy segment.

21st July, 1964:

Mine is not a political blog but I have to address this matter because it shaped my mind for later years and because the Velvetones pop guitar band and I were together that day. We met during this holiday and spent our time till late. 
The Velvetones in 1964 and morphed into The Firebyrds (Philips Records.)
Members of the pop guitar band called The Velvetones were jamming at a bungalow in Lorong 39 that day. This group consisted of our usual Singaporean mix.  We had been practising for a few weeks and I was enjoying myself as one of their many singers. It was the first time that I had joined a band and it was extremely exciting for a 24 year old. 

While we were practising the leader of the Silver Strings (another Singapore pop band), visited us to watch me sing.  Both of us had thoughts that I could join his group as a singer since I had met him some time ago to discuss it. 
The jam session lasted till late evening when we decided to call it a day. Meanwhile there were goings-on in the streets that we were not aware of. My friend only told me when he was sending me home in his car since he did not want to alarm the others during our practice. Although I was living around the corner I took his offer only after learning what had happened earlier.

Quietly in the car he told me how he had to dash through a barricade at one of the roads in Geylang before coming to the bungalow. He was not sure whether it was a police barricade or otherwise. No one stopped him as he sped to where we were, fearful for his life.

When he left me at my home at about 6.30 pm I experienced a strange quiet and uneasy stillness in the air. There was not a single vehicle or human being anywhere near my home or street. It was an eerie, eerie feeling as I felt my hair behind my head stood on ends. I felt as if an atomic bomb had dropped on Singapore and that the whole island had been devastated.  
"Not a soul on earth..." was the thought in my mind.  And the memory lives to this day!

My family, who were anxiously waiting for me and huddled behind the door, told me that a racial riot had started at the Kallang Gas Works earlier that day. I realised how serious the situation was when I read about it in the newspapers the next morning. The Gas Works was not too far from my home.

(I cannot remember the details but the story is reasonably accurate.)

Ref: 'The Singapore Story. Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew': Pg: 556-559. (SPH/Times Edition 1998).

Images: Google; National Heritage Board, Personal Collection.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not a political comment but more of an understanding of the awareness of things, that the peace and stability of any country can explode to smithereens within seconds, that the uninitiated bystander can be the next unwilling member of the Violent Club and subscription is free. Be not fooled because the actual fee is death.

Andy Young* said...

LKY's book on the significance of this particular riot is worth a read.