Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Terrible Twins? Larry Lai And Tan Swee Leong

Singapore had its first independent cable station in the 60s called Rediffusion. Back then the term DJ or Disc Jockey was practically unheard of in conservative Singapore. I still remember using the term, Announcer during the 50s when listening to such programmes on the radio.

To be a DJ in the 60s was the ultimate. It is a profession that promises fame and fortune. Larry Lai and Tan Swee Leong were two of the most prominent personalities at Rediffusion. With their faultless and fluent British accent on air and sometimes cheeky capers, Larry and Swee Leong became household names. "Like Kleenex!" Larry remarked.

So here they are again, the Terrible Twins. But how terrible can they be? Both were just carrying out their duties. Larry Lai (left, in case you still don't know and haven't been reading this blog too carefully) was up the ladder of shelved Long Playing records, searching for vinyls to spin for his new show Disc Jockey Parade which aired in September, 1960. Slim and trim, he was still a teenager then, at 19 years young.

Tan Swee Leong (right) was at the Rediffusion studio recording his Jazz Beat programme which aired on Tuesdays at 9.45pm. "Latest" photograph could denote they were new on the broadcast scene and still learning the ropes? Both were clean-cut and widely admired by our Singapore ladies.

The two images are from the weekly 'Rediffusion Times', a magazine in English, Chinese and Malay, produced by the first ever cable company in Singapore. I could not connect the site to this blog. Sorry, perhaps they are restrictive with copyrights too. If there is any objection regarding this posting please inform and it shall be deleted. Andy Lim.

To read more about Larry Lai and Tan Swee Leong click topic under Labels below:


Thimbuktu said...

Was that Larry Lai at age 19? Very nice blog for memories. Thanks Andy.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Larry reads this blog if I beg him to.

Hey Larry, was that picture taken when you were nineteen?

Larry could be 85 now but pretends he is still 50 (just kidding).

Anonymous said...

They are the best of friends.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Certainly they are. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

From James Seaj:

My blogger friend Lam Chun See posted a comment about "Larry Lai, King of Singapore 60s Airwave" at "Singapore 60s Andy's Pop Music Influence" blog. Andy's blog is an awesome compilation of songs and music in the 1960s for these fans to enjoy.

Larry Lai is my former schoolmate a few years my senior at the Outram Secondary School old building at Outram Road. He is a popular celebrity at Rediffusion, radio, TV and various corporate events at top hotels.

According to Chun See:

"We didn't have Redifusion during Larry Lai's days. But I recall that he was host for the immensely popular Rado Show isn't it?

Anyway, I have a video tape of Larry Lai in action from the early 90's; but this time he was doing a training video for the NPB called OJT,

By the way, I think there is a song which I think is very appropriate for your blog; at least the lyrics are:

"I love all the good old ways we used to do the same things that we do now"

This is an "evergreen" song to bring back our memories of the 1960s for our enjoyment.

FL said...

I remember hearing the voices of Larry Lai and Tan Swee Leong frequently over the Rediffusion in the sixties. They were doing airwave shows,song request programs, pop charts, etc. Back then, my family could not afford to subscribe the Rediffusion, but my immediate neighbour did. And that's how I got to know the "Terrible Twins" as a secondary school teenager then ! I also remember there's another Rediffusion host called, I think Mike..... something something ?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks FL for your contribution to this blog. I will send a copy of this posting to Larry as many of us still remember him and Swee Leong.

Hopefully he will get in touch with Swee Leong and send him a copy too.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Sorry, I missed your last question. Yes, the man was Mike Ellery. In fact he was Larry Lai's and Tan Swee Leong's boss but also organised and hosted many shows.

FL said...

Hi, Andy again. Hey, thanks for furnishing me the full name of Mike Ellery. Yes, I heard his voice on Rediffusion, too. Without Rediffusion then, we teenagers in our times would not get well connected to many pop hits of the 60s/70s and get to know the singers & pop bands. Although radio (RTS)did have pop music programs, but mainly on Sundays then, e.g. Decca and EMI.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks again FL for all the information you provided.

You have made this blog very wholesome with your comments and knowledge of the 60s.

Julianaplim.wordpress.com said...

Larry came to spin '60s favourites in a simulated '60s radio request programme at my OperaViva Gala on Friday 15 June 2012 evening. He jazzed it up by screening YouTube recordings of some of the songs.  It was a very good evening indeed and all our lava lamps were sold ton raise funds for OperaViva. See pics at http://pianofortephilia.blogspot.sg/

Bob said...

Hi Andy,
A while back Larry responded that the theme music on his 60s programme 'Spin Around' on Rediffusion was John Barry's 'Hit And Miss'. As I was certain it wasn't that, I searched further. So after more than 40 years search I've found IT !!! It's "Rum-Dee-Dum-Dee-Dah' also by John Barry. In case Larry doesn't recollect the tune, he can download it at https://www.dropbox.com/s/0dssl3003x4cdou/John%20Barry%20-%20Rum-Dee-Dum-Dee-Dah.mp3?m

Anonymous said...

Hi,anybody heard of Johnny Lau

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Tan Swee Leong has passed away today 18th December, 2015. May he RIP.

Jeremy Lau said...

Johnny Lau was my dad, probably less mentioned but truly a gentleman. Left us way back in 1986 as a young man.