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Friday, June 19, 2015

Reggie Verghese: Artiste, Music Director, Producer

This posting is a short tribute to Mr Reggie Verghese who had passed away on the 17th June 2015 at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.  According to his wife Mrs Virginia Verghese, he died of heart failure.

I had met Reggie a couple of times backstage in the mid 1960's when I fronted a band or two but had never known him personally.  Polite smiles and a nod were the usual gestures of recognition backstage because our minds were occupied with pre-performance jitters rather than empty conversations.

He was pleasant, usually quiet behind his dark sunglasses but a dynamo on stage when he fed his music mates and their cheering audiences with his live wire guitar licks, lightning finger wizardry and pop guitar solos. Reggie with The Quests were huge then, selling records that surpassed the 20,000 copies during first release.

It was only in the last six years or so that I realised what a giant figure he was in the late 60's, 70's and 80's when, on scrutinizing my vinyl collection, I noticed his profile (usually in very small prints) on the back sleeve covers of Frankie Cheah, Tracy Huang, Anita Sarawak, Matthew/Mandarins and other albums. 
Some albums that Reggie Verghese produced for recording companies.

He had his own series of Reg Guitar Long Plays (33 1/3 rpm) where he recorded instrumental pieces using his own arrangements and guitar techniques. He was the music producer, arranger, adviser of these best sellers and a master behind the recording consoles.

The list is long but I have with me only a small collection of Reggie Verghese records that he had produced during his vibrant and productive years as a musician. (Listen to RV's rendition of Feelings as interpreted by Tracy Huang at the side-bar on the right.)

We have indeed lost a talented Singapore son. Rest in peace, Reggie Verghese.  We shall always remember you when we listen to the melodies you have provided.

Friends, readers and all those who have known Reggie one way or another send condolence to Mrs Verghese and Family.

Tracy Huang 'Feelings' - A Reggie Verghese arrangement. Video by Woho Weng

Images from: 
A Private Collection and Google including albums by Frankie Cheah, Anita Sarawak, Tracy Huang, Matthew/Mandarins, Tania, SuZanna Teo and Tony, Terry n Spencer.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Andy,

Well the local music scene has lost a talented musician, producer and mentor.

Personally I had only met Reggie and his wife at a lunch together with Veronica,
Vernon Cheong, and the late Jap Chong sometime late 2013.

RIP Reggie Verghese of the Quests and condolence to this family.

Fabian Foo

JERRY FERNANDEZ said...

Reggie Verghese was very talented, a guitarist and a very gifted producer. EMI's late Daisy Devan was right in bringing him to the recording business.

He did well for many artistes and now may his soul rest in peace. God Bless brother Reggie; your great achievements will be remembered by many in the history of Rock n Roll in Singapore ever after.

Play it again Shanty. God Bless.

JOEY KOH said...

It was a sad day for Singapore.

LARRY LAI said...

I'm at Reggie's wake. Showing your article to Virgie. She says thanks.

RANDY LEE 'STYLERS' FB said...

Very sad to have lost a good friend and a great musician.

ZAINAL ABIDIN 'THE DUKES' BASSIST said...

I just had a birthday lunch with some musician friends when I heard the news. He went home to our maker on my birthday. I am saddened.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the comments and condolence messages. (Compiled from SMSes, FaceBook and direct blog emails.

STRAITS TIMES PRESS said...

"Verghese went on to be well regarded in the local music industry as a veteran producer. Jazz musician, composer and Cultural Medallion recipient Jeremy Monteiro remembers working with him in the late 1970s. Verghese was then the executive producer at music label EMI's now-defunct studio in MacDonald House, while Monteiro, then a teenager, was a session pianist. Together, they worked on recordings by popular regional acts..."
(By Eddino Abdul Hadi Music Correspondent).

Henk Madrotter said...

How weird to read this just while I'm busy recording a super great album from Rita Chao & The Quests, I never realized that he was also behind those Reg Guitar albums...

I will dedicate my next Rita Chao post to him....

May he Rest In Peace

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Anonymous wrote in to request for the names of albums Reggie Verghese produced. As I have explained i have quite a handful so it would be a reasonably detailed one to document. I am also not a vinyl record dealer so to satisfy both sides I shall list only the ones I have illustrated on my posting:

'Matthew and The Mandarins II' EMI EMGS 5033 (1979).
SuZanna Teo 'Loving You' EMI EMGS 5003 (1975).
Tony & Terry with Spencer 'I Won't Move Over' EMI 5023 (1987).
Frankie Cheah 'Our Last Song Together' REGAL SREG 9814 (1974).
Frankie Cheah 'You' EMI SREG 9543 (1972).
'Tania' EMI EMGS 5041 (1980).
Tracy Huang 'Portrait' EMI EMGS 5042 (1980).
Anita Sarawak 'Sophisticated Lady' EMI EMGS 5006 (1976).

Looking for them? Good luck.

HORACE WEE said...

I've just come from Reggie's wake. So sad, everyone one is going...

Khir Johari said...

Friends, where is Reggie's wake? I couldn't find any info on ST obituary. The two phone numbers of Reg & Virginia I have seemed to be old numbers. I would want to pay my last respect to this great musician & friend. Many thanks.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

With reference to Khir Johari's query.

You were just a little late as the cremation was today at Mandai in the afternoon (20th June 2015). I have just read your message.

If you leave me your email address and mobile number I can relay them to Virginia. You can call her afterwards.

CHARLIE GILLET WEBSITE said...

CHARLIE GILLET THE SOUND OF THE WORLD WEBSITE:

ABOUT REGGIE VERGHESE:

From: judith » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:05 am

(1) Have we included Reggie Verghese in any lists of guitar players? His name sounds familiar. Here he is backing Rita Chao in "He's Untrue" sung in Mandarin. See comments below video for more about him.

From: Adam Blake » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:48 am.

(2) That is gorgeous! The song, the production, the singing, but most of all that guitar playing.
Byootiful!!
John P, Norman, Andy - I think you might like this!

FL said...

Andy, we are saddened to hear of Reggie of the Quests, our home grown talent,has passed away. In the hey day, The Quests was such a hot favorite when I was still a sec. student. Our condolences to Reggie's family and loved ones.

Victor said...

Thank you for writing this post. I just listened to Reggie's arrangement for Trcacy's rendition of Feelings. I must have heard this version many times before but I never knew that it was the talented Reggie who was behind the arrangement for this song. My condolences to Reggie's family and may he RIP.

HORACE WEE (PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST) said...

John Lee ex musician/arranger/tenor sax ,from Radio and TV passed away June 7th 2015 from various complications.

All these events don't seem important enough for the news to be reported. Only musicians within our circles respect, remember and grieve for losses of our fellow musicians. Too bad the nation does not recognize or acknowledge the musicians at home in Singapore. Such a waste of the country's heritage.

I am often asked nowadays, what am I famous for, can I really play instruments/music. Ha ha ha. Keep asking.

Cheers.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all again for your messages of condolence for the late Reggie Verghese.

Since 1979 till 2014 there has been a List of Cultural Medallion recipients and one of the categories is Music where there are presently about two dozen names of outstanding Singaporeans who have received this award.

One of them is a good friend, Yusnor Ef who has written more than 200 pop songs since the 1960s. Other recipients include Ahmad Jaafar, Choo Huey, Dick Lee, Iskandar Ismail, Jeremy Monteiro, Paul and Alex Abisheganaden, Lim Yau and many more.

You can check the full list here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Medallion

Anonymous said...

RIP Reggie.

Steve

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO ('TODAY' NEWSPAPER) said...

I recall the days of black and white television, when the group was on many local shows.

It was a pleasure to watch and listen to Verghese perform. He was a guitar maestro who, together with his band, took local music to a high level and influenced other performers to contribute to the music industry.

MAREETA said...

V@ANDY: Can you please share with us contact details of Mrs.Virginia. We only had old address at Laurel Park & old phone number of Mr.Reggie.

Thank you very much.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I shall write to you soon with the home address and phone number after clearance from Mrs Verghese.

S.C. said...

My partner and I were hoping to find out more about the Singaporean music scene, from the past to the present. I'd love for the chance to interview you about what it was like being a musician in Singapore's golden age for music...

Thank you very much, I hope to hear back from you soon.

With Regards,

IOLEEN CHIA said...

Thanks Andy. Sad to hear about Reg's passing away.

Anonymous said...

Dear Reggie, I never met you in person but I have seen you with the Quests performing live on many occassions and hear your music without getting jaded espcially your guitar solo technics.I regard you as Hank Marvin of Spore(guitarist from The Shadows).May you rest in peace but your music will be remembered till eternity.Thank You Reggie for the music.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you again. I hope people who read this blog will realise how much fans of Reggie Verghese love him and appreciate the honour and recognition he had brought to Singapore's music world.

James Lim said...

Reggie Verghese was Singapore's most legendary producer, he was the "Phil Spector" of Singapore. I worked with him in the 70's and 80's. He wants to get the best sound of the recording, he will scream at you if you think you have not done the work the way he wants it. He will always be remembered, there is no one like him.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you James for sharing your thoughts about Reggie. The amount of recorded materials he left behind is a legacy in itself, a 60's music giant who will be difficult to parallel.

Please visit this site more often and if you wish to write any article or post a story on this blog feel free to contact me by leaving your email address which I shall not reveal. Singapore needs people like you to tell her music tales.

Appreciate your contribution.