Tuesday, December 29, 2009

(1) British/American Servicemen Music Influence In 60s Music Scene At Military Base


With the British military presence aplenty at the naval and air bases in Singapore until the early 70s, the import of the latest R&B, pop, rock n roll music from Britain and some from the US was common. These men in uniform had a strong cultural influence on the youths here, especially when they armed themselves with solid twanging guitars, thumping skins and clanging cymbals.

The presence of these soldiers also provided the infrastructure for a successful music industry as many local band boys and girls eagerly went on stage at tea dances and nightly gigs to strut their stuff. The dashing men in uniform also brought their imported music vinyls - singles, EPs and LPs - to lend to our local band members during their visits to the gigs and tea-dances in Singapore 60s. And so the influence and exchange began.

Despite the music being tagged as part of 'yellow culture' in later years, the government was not able to halt the increase of western pop culture while the the uniform personnel from abroad were were still around during the 60s. But when fisticuffs led to brawls and big bar fights, and when the idea that consuming illegal drugs became a day to day affair, the authorities were on the alert.

So when news of drug consumption and especially casualties amongst this popular industry in the west abound, the authorities here in Singapore acted. The denouement was in the early 70s, when they eventually withdrew their forces from Singapore.

In the above photo can you recognise Barry Walker or any other officer who was in a band?
Image: British Military Base Copyrights Reserved from P.C. Collection.

Original article: Andy Lim Collection.


Victor said...

Sorry, I do not know who is Barry Walker. Maybe I was still too young too know.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Victor,
I didn't know much about him until somebody introduced me to him.

The next posting explains who Barry Walker is. I am learning much too.

Michael said...

Hi Andy,

It reminds me of my younger days when I was about 12 or so. Used to follow my dad who managed this band called The Woodlanders. They played regularly at the Anzuk club in Admiralty (Sembawang).

PS:Aloysius Soh played for The Woodlanders periodically in the 70s. I am his nephew - Michael

Michael said...

It brings back memories of my younger days -probably about 12 or so. Used to follow my dad who managed this band The Woodlanders who played regularly at the ANZUK club in Admiralty (near Sembawang).

PS: Aloysius Soh who is my uncle also played for the Woodlanders on a number of occasions.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Michael (PIPA),
Thanks for writing. Tried to check out your blog but couldn't get in. Would be great if you could write about The Woodlanders and Aloysius Soh.

Please write to me again and an email contact so I could communicate with you.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanking good friend, PC who has been contributing the Servicemen bands postings.

penesmallbrook said...

I lived on the Naval Base from 1968 until 1971 and my father (Arthur Smallbrook) was friends with Bobby Tan in the Woodlanders. He worked in my father's department on the Naval Base before moving to Singapore Glass and often used to come to our house. They were a great band, we used to love going to dances where they played. Would love to know what he is doing now... retired I guess.m

penesmallbrook said...

I lived on the Naval Base in Singapore from 1968 to 1971 and the Woodlanders often played at dances at the CPOs mess. Bobby Tan the lead singer used to work in the same department as my father (Arthur Smallbrook) and often came to our house. They were a great group, we loved the music at that time. Wasnt Barry Walker one of the Walker Brothers... do a search on YouTube and you will be able to hear some of their music. Would love to know where and what Bobby is doing now... retired I guess. If you are in touch with him, say 'hello' from Penny Smallbrook

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Michael and Penny,
I have posted your letters today. Hopefully someone familiar with The Woodlanders will notice the postings.

That's the best I can do. Meantime I'll ask around but with Michael's letter earlier (and he wrote some time ago) I couldn't manage any contact.

Let's hope for the best.