Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peranakans In Katong Charmed By Hawaiian Guitar

When I wrote to Cynthia, asking to reproduce her article and a photograph to highlight her story, she generously replied:

Hi Andy,

Kudos for your website on bands in Singapore in the 60s. Please find here a photo of Mickey Oliveiro and his band (he is at the center). Note the original Hawaiian ukelele which was given by his widow to my sister.

Best regards,

Mickey Oliveiro on Hawaiian Guitar.
Hi Cynthia,

Thank you for the photograph and write-up about Mr. Oliveiro. I wish more people like you would share their pictures and memories for everyone to appreciate.


Where's the Hawaiian guitar

Cynthia Wee-Hoefer reminisced on growing up in the peranakan heartland in Katong (on the eastern coast of Singapore) during the 50s and 60s. Her charming, vivid description of the area and the activities and colourful neighbours struck a note in me. What interested me most was her story about one particular family, "whose life we witnessed by looking over the common wall into their verandah and living room." To her the Oliveiros were "outstanding" and inspirational, especially one member:

"Mickey Oliveiro was the leading Hawaiian guitar-player of the 50s and 60s. He was part of a band of part-time musicians who played in cabarets and clubs like the one in Seaview Hotel on weekends and festivities. And that meant rehearsals on Sundays with his buddies. So my young life was filled with the tunes of Blue Hawaii and other hip-swaying melodies. 

Meanwhile, our family gramophone belted out Bill Haley, Elvis, Chuck Berry, The Shadows and so on. By the time I reached the awakening of my own hit parade of the Beatles and Stones, I found the melodious pull and twang of the electric Hawaiian guitar to be punishing. 

Mickey collapsed from a heart attack and took away the sound with him completely before I came to hear the familiar strains once again when I befriended a Peranakan girl living in Queenstown whose father loved his Hawaiian guitar."
Tanjong Katong in the 1920s

(The above extract was taken from The Peranakan Association Singapore Website.)To read the full article please click the link below:

Images from:
Cynthia Wee-Hoefer,,

Do you still remember Mickey Oliveiro? Please write in if you do?


Lam Chun See said...

Hi Andy. I thought you would certainly be blogging about the recent passing of Bernard Solosa.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

There's already so much information about him in the newspapers and I do not have anything more to add.

His image on the right-bar with The Quests stands tall.

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,
Mickey Olivero used to play the Hawaiian guitar with my dad's band - The Rangers (Harry Fleury). I took over and I think that I am the only Hawaiian guitarist in Singapore left. Mickey and my Dad were good buddies. Just reminiscing a little....Rgds Andrew Fleury

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Mr Andrew Fleury,

Thank you for the information. Would be glad if you leave me your email (I won't publish it) so I could contact you about your playing the Hawaiian guitar. I am sure others would love to share your stories.

Please write on this same posting.