Sixteen Candles - Rita Chao and The Quests Video by Alvin Tan
Songs I Love:
In the 1960's when the craze among our youth was to buy local records (i.e. Singapore vinyl), they were more familiar with the covers of Western pops sung by our own artistes than the original ones. In fact, some record buyers were not even aware of the versions by our British or American counterparts.
I have listed five hit songs below that fit into this category. The original version comes first and the Singapore copy-cat beside it. Most were songs from the late 1950's and recorded in the 60's.
The Singapore artistes were the top stars those years and, if it's true of what I've been told, each recording would have produced at least 20,000 copies. They were the dominant players in the recording industry then. Some of these records would have been reprinted if sales were good. Let's take a look at them.
1) Mr. Twister: Connie Francis (original)
Mr Twister: The Crescendos (cover)
No details on date and composer
Although Connie Francis was a multi-hit maker in the 60's with her songs like, Who's Sorry Now, Stupid Cupid and Where the Boys Are, her song Mr Twister was not as popular in Singapore. Instead the local vocal group The Crescendos hit the air waves with the same song and made it a sell-out on the island. The late Susan Lim sang it.
2) Happy Happy Birthday Baby: The Tune Weavers (Original)
Happy Happy Birthday Baby: Naomi and The Boys (cover)
Margo Sylvia, Gilbert Lopez - 1957
Many fans thought that Happy Happy Birthday Baby was an original song by Naomi and The Boys. In fact it was recorded in the US by a group called The Weavers. Another Naomi hit song, I Know which is a Boys original was thought to be a western hit. Naomi's Happy Birthday became so popular that many pirated copies were on sale in the market.
Sixteen Candles: Rita Chao (Cover).
Luther Dixon Allyson R. - 1958.
Similarly the late Rita Chao's version of Sixteen Candles was more popular than The Crests. Many local listeners had never even heard of The Crests. Rita Chao's, together with top pop guitar twangers The Quests' version was heard all over the country.
Our cute and petite lady was Queen of Pops those years and did a Chinese version of the same song. Even good friend Sakura Teng could not outshine her.
Don't Play That Song: Keith Locke and The Quests (Cover)
Ahmed Ertegun, Betty Nelson - 1960
One of the most popular songs when it was around in the mid-sixties, this number was performed all the time whenever Keith Locke and his team-mates came on stage during variety shows, charity shows, theatre shows and during night club acts.
Keith Locke was a sensation and made a name for himself. Everyone in the audience could chorus, "You lied, you lied, you lied. Yeah, yeah, yeah..." The Ben King version was over shadowed a thousand times over.
Jack Rhodes, Dick Reynolds - 1956.
A classic, the song by our local group did not hit the headlines but was part of an EP with three other songs. The Crescendos EP's usually sold well and the vocal group was on an uphill curve with the vinyl records they pressed.
It was very impressive indeed and they were the first artistes from Singapore to have recorded with an international company like Philips. Skeeter Davis came earlier with her version but this was a hit song by any means.
A very strong support group for our local bands and singers uplifted the record sales. It was a novelty then, the only time in Singapore's history when our own boys and girls could hit the pop song parade together with international stars.
Credit must be given to the fledgling music industry in the 1960's. The incentives activated a new vehicle to promote it, local music producers like Reggie Verghese and composers like, Robert Suriya, Henry Chua and Harvey Fitzgerald. This new and exciting onslaught of local hits flooded the market. But that's another tale.
Images: A Personal Collection and Google.
You Tube Videos: Alvin Tan and eosyeo.
Copyrights reserved: Don't copy.
The article is my own personal view. Information may vary according to sources.