I first met Harry Cheok (image: 3rd from left with band and supporters) at a private club in Singapore at the beginning of 2010. He was sipping an iced drink despite the cool air-conditioning in the lounge and had just completed the Rolling Stones hit, Walking The Dog, accompanied by his band Blu Moon. Audie Ng, Silver Strings band leader had introduced Harry as Singapore's Johnny Lion. He won the competition singing, Let's Make A Habit Of This.
"Where are the Jumping Jewels?" I asked jokingly. "Gone back to Holland," was his immediate and humorous reply, "but do you know that my own band, Willy Jokers won the contest at the Singapore Badminton Hall in 1965." When I asked him how his band had such a unique name, he explained that the band's financier had a son called Willy and that all of them enjoyed a joke or two regularly when they got together.
Harry related his experience when he joined Willy Jokers as a singer in 1963. Young and fancy free they performed for house and birthday parties from Tanjong Katong to Tiong Bahru. As they became more popular with their R&B selection, RAF Changi contracted them to play at the mess.
Cliff Richard and the Shadows contest held at The National Theatre in 1964. Harry sang Gee Whiz It's You and remembered that Hamid Bond was the compere with Wilma Tang the guest singer.
They were good, beat the competition but came in third. Kenneth Gomes and The McCoys won the title. Then came the win in '65 when they hit the popularity polls afterwards as Singapore's Johnny Lion and The Jumping Jewels.
More about Harry Cheok in future postings with his other band Wes Cossacks (1965 - 1968).
Image: Harry Cheok Collection. Copyright Reserved.
Article: Original article by Andy Lim.