Ismail Haron (image - 2nd left), from Queenstown Secondary Technical School, had been singing in front of his school mates during morning assembly since he was 7 or 8. Later on in years, the first instrumental group he joined was The Valiants.
Then with his school friends he formed another group called, The Vigilantes to record their first EP under the Eagle label, with Malay songs adapted from English hits. These were Senyuman Terakhir (Green Green Grass Of Home), Pulang Pada-Ku, Mari Sayang (Hang On Sloopy) and Mari Menari (La Bamba).
As their popularity progressed, The Vigilantes cut a 1968 album called, Jangan Marah Lili containing the hit Enam Belas Lilin (Sixteen Candles) which remained in the Malaysian Pop Charts for 15 consecutive weeks.
The Vigilantes had also recorded an Eagle Records EP (TK 1017 - image) that included, Till We Meet Again, I Fell Into A Trance, Love In Bloom and Reminiscence. Another EP that Haron recorded under Panda in 1968 had: Impian Suchi, Tangisan Hati, Gadis Peladang and Mengusek Mambang.
Due to a new mix in the band line-up and a differing style in their music presentation, the group decided a name change and called themselves, The Guys. By then the band and Ismail Haron had secured a contract with EMI. In 1968, The Guys recorded an EP containing Ribin Biru (Pretty Ribbon), Ku Ta'kan Jatoh Chinta Lagi (I'll Never Fall In Love Again), Tunggu-lah Puan (Keep On Runnin') and Delailah (Delilah).
Because of his voice and the songs he sang, Ismail was labelled, Singapore's Tom Jones, but he said his main inspiration were the African-American singers and especially admired James Brown. In fact he was the first singer in Singapore to perform Brown's songs.
In the same year and in early 1969, he had more EMI/EP hits (EGEP: 667) with, Sembilan Bulan Ku Nanti-Kan, (The Way It Used To Be), Kenangan Manis Di-Kuala Lumpur (Call On Me), Bersedia (Get Ready), Bebas-kan Daku (You Keep Me Hanging On) and another, Sudi Sudi-kah Dikau? (Gimme Gimme Good Lovin') and Ku Tiada Minta Lahir Ka-Dunia (The Music Played).
But 1969 witnessed the end of The Guys' recording career and their final work being put up was for another artiste, Eddie Ahmad, with Khayalan (The Fool On The Hill), Rintehan, "Chipta'an-Ku and Hanya Mimpi". Ismail Haron also recorded four English songs with The Guys in one EMI/EP with My Elusive Dreams, The Rose, A Minute Of Your Time and Hungry For Love.
Image/Edited Information: Andy Lim Collection.