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Friday, November 26, 2010

SONNY BALA - A Well Respected Pop Musician

Singer guitarist Sonny Bala was only 53 when he passed on, leaving behind a wife and son. He was a respected figure on the local entertainment scene and his death was a shock to many relatives and friends.
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Sonny himself was the 6th of eleven childen and the only professional musician in his family. People in the industry who knew him remarked that young musicians cannot play the way he did, "using that nice, simple Hawaiian style, considering he was nearly blind." Others thought that his guitar playing was brilliant and his voice a powerhouse.
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One of his good friends, who played with him in jam sessions at the former Jockey Pub, said that he was an an "exceptional musician." The Pub was practically his second home because he had played there for a long time.
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His best years were in the 60s when he composed and recorded his own songs with The Moonglows and accompanied singers like Wilson David, Veronica Young and Tom Reyes. He had numerous appearances on television and performed abroad.
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#Sonny Bala and The Moonglows (image - seated), formed in 1967, were among the top Singapore 60s groups and had toured Sabah and Sarawak. Between 1968 and 1970 Bala had entertained American troops in the southern part of war-torn Vietnam.
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Another good friend, a kampong kaki (village mate) from Siglap and former Moonglows member, knew him for 30 years. Tony Castillo (musician and once child star in Malay movie, 'Anak Ku Sazali') had a group called Village Jazz and Bala played rhythm guitar for them.
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This group played mainly jazz and evergreens for nine months at the Lotus Bar in Changi Meridien Hotel. Tony said that Bala was versatile, quick and knew his music well. He was a quiet man, kept to himself a lot and never rushed into things. Sonny Bala played his last gig with another close friend, Cedric Cork, at the Boulevard Hotel.
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#The Moonglows* comprised: *Sonny Bala (vocals, lead guitar), *Donald Thaver (rhythm guitar), Roslan Ismail (organ), *Teddy Song (bass), Edward Jansen (rhythm guitar), Granville De Silva (bass), *Sanny Ismail - aka Mohd Bin Ismail - (drums).
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The above article, originally by PAT D'ROSE, is an edited version by Andy Lim and taken from a photograph of a newspaper cutting.
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Image: Universal Music, Singapore.

8 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

Yes I remember the name of this group.

FL said...

During the heyday of the late sixties, I heard Sonny Bala & The Moonglows appeared on TV (RTS years)singing their songs. I think very few people can remember this group. I recall Sonny used to sing those slow numbers, something like C & W styles. Sad to say, he's no longer around.

Andy Young* said...

That's new Chun See. You must be a little boy then.

Andy Young* said...

Yes FL. Sonny Bala made an impact because of his voice and presence on the small screen. I can recall his C&W style too.

And very professional too.

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Andy Young* said...

Thank you Steve. I hope you will follow mine too.

Anonymous said...

In his own way Sunny Bala is a legend.

Andy Young* said...

He is surely. Thanks for visiting.