Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rediffusion Request Programs in the 60s - The Larry Lai Interviews (Part IV)

Nasi Goreng and Ox-Tail Stew:

(Image of Larry in his disco suit on the left.) It will take a myriad of postings to document Larry Lai's tales and adventures as a broadcaster, so I have decided to write snippets of what he told me in the past weeks while we were busy enjoying our nasi-goreng, ox-tail stew and mango-ice cream. These postings will never do justice to his varied and interesting career at Rediffusion and his expertise as a broadcaster in Singapore, but here goes.
Rediffusion Requesters:My chat with Larry in the 3rd interview ended when I asked him about Rediffusion requesters. Many Singapore youths who lived in the early 60s knew that it was fashionable among pop song requesters to have their lengthy, western names announced over the air. Cheap thrill if you call it, but it was youth culture then.

These ego-maniacs found it exciting to hear their names on the airwaves. When I discussed with Larry about Rediffusion 'friends' like, Elvis Jonathan Wee, Cliff Ricardo Tan and Cilla Debbie Soon, he explained that besides having unique names, they also had strange habits.

"When they found out where my future wife lived and where I parked my car during my visits to her home, they used my windscreen as a postbox, slipping their heavily decorated, request postcards between the wipers. Every morning it was extra work for me, as I had to clear the tons of mail accumulated. And if it rained the night before..."

He took his listeners seriously and made sure he answered every postcard and request for songs on air. Woe betide Larry Lai if he failed to do so because there would be repercussions. He would be in trouble... The requesters would write him nasty letters.

Larry remarked that oddities like these came with his work. But it made the only cable station in Singapore a hit with our 60s youths. The exceptionally popular request programme stretched from one to four hours daily.

Other Request Programmes:

There were many pop music request programmes those years. On radio there was Claude Doral with his, 'Saturday Date', Kingsley Morando (Mr Talentime) with, 'To Each His Own' and Maisie Concaecio with her morning 9am stint called, 'Calling All Hospitals.' where she answered requests for hospital patients. Larry had much competition those days but according to seniors today (they were young once), nothing beat Larry Lai's request programme on Rediffusion, where he really played the latest and the best.

(Only music and personalities from the 50s to the 70s are posted on this blog. This article is the fourth posting about Larry Lai. For 3 previous interviews Click Larry Lai under labels below.)

Image: Larry Lai Collection. (All rights reserved)

Original article: Andy Lim


Unk Dicko said...

Larry Lai on his own was a legend. Hope he shares more stories with you.
Those were really the days!
I bumped into him last month at S Gardens prata shop. He still looks as before...always recognisable.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Dick. Yes, Larry is a legend and a wonderful human being too.

He's always recognisable, handsome features with that unique bass baritone voice.

FL said...

Mr Larry Lai's voice was so popular during the Rediffusion's song request programs back in the sixties. I remember he hosted the TV talentime shows in the 1970s or is it early 1980s ? I attended one of the live talentime shows hosted by him then. Very professional and engaging in his works.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks FL for writing. He is definitely, "professional and engaging" as you mentioned because of his ability to connect with his audiences.

Anonymous said...

4:27 PM (12 minutes ago):
Aiyoh! I'm dying of embarrassment!

October 26, 2010 4:42 PM

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Don't be Larry. You deserve all the accolades you can get.

Lam Chun See said...

I seem to recall going for dinner with friends at a place called Moby Dick. Can please refresh my memory where is this place.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Reply from the Man himself:

Oh yes, there was this coffee house at Orchid Inn called Moby Dick. I remember a friend and myself going there one evening for a meal. We gave our calling card to a waiter to hand over to the G.M.

He came by a little later and I can still remember his first words to us, "I hope you gentlemen didn't come to kill me."

Somehow we came up with the same name by co-incidence. He read about us in the press when they did some early promotional write-ups.

Larry Lai

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for the explanation. Sad that the Orchid Inn is going the way of the dinosaurs like its neighbour, the Equatorial.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

That's why people like you are important Chun See.

You are blogging and sharing with the world about what Singapore was in the past, a country with so varied a culture within so small an area.

As the new Singapore appears or has appeared, I try to do my part too, highlighting to the young our heritage, the 60s music leaders in the industry and those affiliated to the business.

I wish more Singaporeans and people knowledgeable about the music scene would make contributions on the blog too.

Thanks for visiting.

Robin P K Chan said...

I remembered a programme for songs request when I was a teenager, I think it is " Home Sweet Home" hosted by a female. can anyone refresh my memory? this was during the mid or late sixties
robin chan

LARRY LAI said...

Sorry, I cannot remember this programme. There were thousands of
programmes over the years done by various people. How to remember them all?


Larry cant recall because there was no such title!

It most likely was *From your house* and mon - fri programme

started possibly in the early 1960s by Noreen Sales.

She left and Honey Zain hosted the 15min show

which featured song favorites of a family, in each show!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to Vernon Cornelius who provided the answer. Hope it helps Robin.

Unknown said...

Thank you.