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Monday, July 09, 2012

Swee Leong: Crooner, Cook, Cat Lover, Candid!

"TAN SWEE LEONG passed away on 18th December, 2015. This article was written when we met at a social gathering in 2012.  Leong died of rectal cancer." Andy.     What do Singapore Sixties pop DJs do when they retire? To Tan Swee Leong retirement is not a word he uses to describe his time since he left the recording studios at Rediffusion. He's still the business person, show promoter, singer, piano player and cat lover (he's got eight cats at home in Holland Village).  When we met at a party recently he entertained us with some 50s favourites singing, A You're Adorable, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Alfie. Just as versatile, his fingers danced on the ivories as he played both Chinese and English hit tunes. Like old friend Jimmy Chan, he could have been successful recording some of his music.
Leong's been keeping himself busy these days both with his work and socially. Friends who know him well are aware that he is also a Mee Siam and Leg of Lamb culinary expert. Many of his kakis and colleagues, including some well-known personalities, have tasted his especially delicious mee-siam. "Hey, Swee Leong, time you opened a restaurant to let others taste this popular Asian dish," I told him one day.  "Wait till you taste my leg of lamb," he replied, "Then you'll want me to open a Deli..."
We all remember Tan Swee Leong, the man who had interviewed Marlon Brando, Cliff Richard and  The Beatles when he was still at the only cable network from the 60s. 

From his school website, *Old Victorians' Association, he's been described as the legendary radio/tv compere and DJ "listed in the Who's Who in Singapore and Malaysia, a publication on prominent personalities."  The writer added that, "Singaporeans of the older generation would remember with fondness the great voice and witty presentation of Swee Leong, first on Redifusion and later with RTS and TCS."  Remember Swee Leong.

5C's he's got: Crooner, Cook, Cat Lover, Candid, and... Compere.

We'd like to hear from you!

18th December, 2015.
Click Comments page below to read condolence messages.

*Quote from: http://blog.ova.org.sg/2009/05/satay-night-reflections/

Images and Article: Andy Lim Collection.
Image: Swee Leong n Cat Ouzo by courtesy of Peter Boudewyn
Rejuvenated Post on 18th December, 2015 because of TSL's passing away.

49 comments:

OLD BOY said...

Interesting to know that Tan Swee Leong is an Old Victorian. I vaguely remember that he used to host variety shows(?) or was it Talentime(?) or Miss Singapore(?) on tv..

1960sVIC said...

On the lighter side, Old Victorians who have made their names as radio/tv comperes and DJs include the legendary Tan Swee Leong and the late S R S Naidu, popularly known as the "Birdman of Spore"

ABOUT CATHAY said...

The Cathay Opening Event 23 March 2006:

In the past, MCs played a big role at Cathay’s shows, contests and promotions.

Larry Lai, Tan Swee Leong, Mike Ellery and Steven Lee were some of the regular MCs from the 50s and 60s who worked on shows with Cathay.

We are delighted that Larry Lai and Mike Ellery are joining us on Opening night as guest MCs.

VICTOR KOO'S BLOG said...

stanley said...

I remember vividly the rediffusion sets in the 50s were made of wood and shaped like a square box with a knob and a speaker.

The English programmes were hosted by DJs Larry Lai and Tan Swee Leong. I wonder how many of my generation can still remember them.

Andy Lim* said...

The four Comments above were taken from website sources that mentioned Tan Swee Leong in name.

Click NAMES IN BLUE for immediate connection.

Thank you.

FL said...

Uncle Tan Swee Leong's name was a household name in Singapore back in 1960s! As a teen then, I heard his name thro' none other than the defunct Rediffusion. I remember he hosted a number of programs, together with others like Larry Lai, Mike Ellery,etc.I recall he had a strong, clear voice, cracking jokes, too, when he spoke thro the airwave. I wish him good health and an active life, too!

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks again FL for your visit and contribution. It is true about his clear voice and active life.

I shall convey your good wishes and make sure he reads your mail.

ECLIM/KESAVAN said...

The senior Old Victorians of Victoria School is organising a "Victorian Gold"reunion on 1 Feb 2013 at the school, and would like to invite Swee Leong to this special Homecoming of the Golden Boys.

Many Old Vics of Swee Leong's era wld like to be reunited with him at this special Homecoming. Appreciate you kindly ask him to contact email:

Andy Lim* said...

Your message has been conveyed to Swee Leong personally. He would contact you soon.

Your email and mobile phone number have not been published.

E.C.Lim / Kesavan Soon said...

Thanks very much Andy. We look forward to hear from Swee Leong.

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks for visiting the blog. If there are other artistes and music personalities that you wish to write about from Victoria School please let me know. I'd only be too glad to spread the news about our famous Singaporeans and post them on the blog.

RUBY QUEEN said...

Hi,
we have lots of cat-themed products, come visit us and like us at Facebook...

Andy Lim* said...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha... Swee Leong prefers mee siam anytime.

EDWIN GOH said...

I remember his name, those days no tv.

MUN CHOR SENG said...

Unexpected to hear sad news at this time of the year.

LARRY LAI said...

I'm too overwhelmed at the moment. Just been remembering all our years together.

SPYeo said...

Oh so sad; Swee Leong has left us. Illness or old age?

SUNNY WEE said...

Oh dear.

LIM KUAN MIN said...

Gosh RIP

IRENE YAP said...

The msgs are all coming in regarding his passing. He used to come by with Jimy Chan and a group when I was performing at Meritus Negara. Used to host THE GUTHRIE HOUR TV progra I was on for a couple of times. He is crazy but fun. Have not seen him for a long time since I heard he was sick.

JIMMY CHNG (THE DECIBALS BAND) said...

Sad to hear that. May he RIP

PHILIP TAN said...

Just talking about him two weeks ago. May his soul rest in peace.

RICHARD TOH said...

Yes, saw on FB...

RICKIE CHNG (LEAD GUITAR 'THE ESQUIRES') said...

It is always sad to hear such heartfelt news. My condolence to his family for the great loss.

JOHN CHER said...

Will remember him in prayers. God bless.

HAPPY TAY (VANCOUVER, CANADA) said...

May he RIP. Thanks for info.

LAURENCE LIM said...

Sad news.

JAILANI (KEYBOARDIST) said...

Condolences to his family. May God bless his soul and give his family strength to go thru this.

Bird Dog said...

Remembered as a little lad in late 60s hearing him on radio on EMI show,he used to pronounce EMI news as 'emynews' Loved his deep clear macho voice ever since. RIP

Adrian said...

Have had the pleasure to know the man in his last 5-6 years after I shifted to Singapore. Only got to know him well during this time. Quite a fun character, very happy and cheerful all the time with a passion for his old friends and the good old times in Singapore. Hope that he is now in a better place! RIP Leong!

Tin Leong Lim FACEBOOK said...

RIP Tan Swee Leong

JOHN CHER (WRITER/ PERCUSSIONIST) said...

Hi Andy, as always thanks for the informative write-up. If I remember correctly it was Swee Leong who introduced Matthew's band The HILItes on black and white tv. David Goh was on lead guitar back then. When local tv was at its infancy, appearing on tv was almost a fantasy realized. I remember Matthew and The HILItes doing 500 Miles. Of course to see a celebrity compere was an added bonus! Peace Be With You Swee Leong!

FACEBOOK ANDY said...

ALPHONSO SOOSAY, JOHN CHER, IVOR LESSLAR, LINDA TAN, TIN LEONG LIM, JALANI MOHAMED, YIP DICK.
Thanks for Like on FB post.

chakap chakap said...

Career:
He was long time at Rediffusion, hosted TV shows by RTS too.
Well-known and a household name from 60's to 80's.
Also with the late Mike Ellery on air
Billed as 'terrible twins' with Larry Lai but was done in fun and frolic for entertainment.
Always took things in his stride and never too serious.
Leong inspired many like Brian Richmond, Andre Ahchak and others.
Was a mentor to the young DJs and professionally, kept to his mark.
Held franchise and promoter for Miss World pageant.

Ailment, family:
He suffered two strokes. Cancer was known only lately before he passed away.
Was at KTPH for treatment but been ill for some years.
Survived by 3 ex-wives, 3 daughters and a sister.
Leong was 77 when he passed away.

Cecilia Wong said...

Ah Leong was also an ad man and that's how we met. He was the live wire at J Walter Thompson in the nineties. He kept us entertained with his over-the-top stories, singing, crazy themes/games at our annual parties and all the open houses at his Chip Bee Garden home. We always looked forward to his Mee Siam nights which were inevitably accompanied by lots of drinking, smoking and bad jokes. But it was the singing we most enjoyed as he played his favourite oldies on his piano, singing in his velvety baritone voice. Ah Leong may not be great as an ad man but he was real. He was often misunderstood but for those of us who appreciate him for who he was, he did not have a bad bone in him. I will always remember him for his love for life, his generosity and being a hopeless romantic. RIP, Ah Leong. You have lived your life. It's time you have a good rest.

ALPHONSO SOOSAY (From: NAOMI AND THE BOYS) said...

Swee Leong was a man of great humour and many other talents. A popular man during Rediffusion days. May his soul rest in Heaven.

Henri Gann said...

Swee Leong we will miss you ! You will always be our favorite resident host at Rediffusion. We will play your favorite guitar boogie for you when we see you. Thank you for loving our music and to do our only memorable reunion interview in the early 1980s.
Our deepest sympathy to your family !
The Trekkers and the Jaywalkers early 1960s

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I remember watching Swee Leong's style of a song presentation with, 'A, You're Adorable" which he did in such an entertaining and humorous way. It was after his grand mee-siam meal. His gestures and mimicry mesmerised our private audience in the living room at Grandma Mary's home. Her daughters and family. Jimmy Chan was on the piano, bent as usual and deep in concentration, accompanying Leong. Larry was there too with Selina.

He was born to perform and to make others laugh.

Thank you Swee Leong. We will remember you with your wild antics and sometimes sombre moments...

Just writing this late with due respect to former 60's DJ on Rediffusion, Tan Swee Leong who had just passed away. For your information, his posting written in 2012, drew nearly 3,000 plus viewership since the 18th December; all of it within a few days. This blog averages 500 postings daily.

Again thanks for the support on Facebook, Twitter and Blogspot. I never enhance my statistics through unnatural means, so it's nearing a million viewers because of genuine readers from people who love Singapore music.

FL said...

It's sad though to hear that Mr Tan Swee Leong had passed away. My sincere condolences to his loved ones. I came to know about him through listening from my neighbour's Redifusion set from the early sixties onwards. My family couldn't afford one during those years. My generation really enjoyed his hosting the many programs and shows in Redifusion and television shows. May God bless his soul.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Your comments are a source of information to our followers FL and can be read all over this blog. You yourself have been a source of inspiration to music lovers who wish to find out about Singapore of yesterday. Swee Leong was part of this yesterday.

Again thanks for your contribution.

FACEBOOK said...

From the Facebook column of Claressa Monteiro we share their sorrow:

ROSE NG
VALERIE CLARKE VILLAMIL
IAN URQUHART
JOE PETERS
EDNA DEL ROSARIO
DENYSE TESSENSOHN

ROSZ NG said...

Oh no.... I liked him a lot... RIP Swee Leong :-(

RONNIE SEE of RONNIE AND THE BURNS said...

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your warm response as always.

Coming to writing, I’d rather leave it to the expert and there’s non-other could hold a candle to you! Frankly, I marvel your dedication and contribution to the Singapore 60s music stories, that every story you wrote, carries the in-depth fabric and precision of their history.

Swee Leong was a great guy who lived-up to his fullest, yes we surely miss him. How we wish that we could turn back the clock but alas time is merciless, they never return!

Sure, whenever some things we know that is interesting enough, we will definitely share the story.

All the best compliments of the season to you and all in the family!

Warmest Regards.

Henri Gann said...

This is Swee Leong's Rediffusion interview of The Trekkers ( Part 1 & 2 ) recorded in 1980. He mailed it to me right after the interview.
You can hear the mesmerizing voice of Swee Leong and feel how genuine he was. A listener's choice in music and our favorite host in Rediffusion, he was a class act and a natural artiste.
I am happy to share this interview of The Trekkers with your readers and to dedicate it to Swee Leong's family.
From another proud Dad of only daughters,

Henry Gan of The Trekkers

http://youtu.be/12VAGUpG8sQ

http://youtu.be/hPIYBgMxcHo


anonymous said...

Hi all, I am in search of possilbe audio interview of Yardbirds with Late Legendary Tan Swee Leong at the MacDonald House just prior to their Jan. 18, 1967 concert at the National Theatre, many photos have been found on line from various sources
Photo of Yardbirds with thanks to my dear Facebook Friend...
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s0VMPaGo3Lo/VWPc2eJ2wWI/AAAAAAAABGw/TeOy938--ZM/s1600/1.jpg

Andy and Friends, the National Singapore Library has none, Rediffusion no response, I appreciate your insight, the Yardbirds are being interviewed and captioned at the Macdonald House Orchid Road, Tan Swee Leong is the INterviewee...tks lot!!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Rediffusion enthusiasts might have a copy. Yardbirds had their hair under wigs didn't they?
That fact alone tells a lot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy, thanks for the response, yes indeed, Legendary "Page" and HIs "Yardbirds" & "LZ" had beautiful hair, too bad, Singapore didn't get to see it, but I remain hopeful of the interview, any Rediffusion enthusiasts that you can think of who has tapes? Not sure where to start, Andy, if you or anyone can get a update from Rediffusion archives, it is sincerely appreciated for benefit of all...I have no response to date...thank you all!!


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi anon. Gimme your email address or mobile number. I won't publish them on the blog. Cheers.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

To SGH:

I received your mail but sorry if I am not able to help in any way as such research is truly beyond my boundaries. Furthermore I am writing this blog during the free time I have. I shall still ask around and if I chance upon any good news I shall surely write to you officially.

Thank you for patronising the blog. If you are able to contribute in any way, an article or two, I'd be glad.