Saturday, October 22, 2011

Early British Invasion of Singapore: RAF 50s Music

An Earlier British Invasion of Singapore:

"The Club at the air-base in 1955 to 56 was a beaut place. There were good bands that played there too, one of which I recalled had everyone lustily singing Irish protest songs... (edited)"

"Eggs and chips, export lager and Elvis on the jukebox, singing Don't Be Cruel as I lusted after Mary, a lovely Irish redhead WRAF... (edited)"

During the early years of Singapore's colonial history, before Cliff Richard and The Shadows rocked Singapore with their performances in the 60s and before UK Servicemen vocalists and bands like Philips recording artistes Bobby Lambert, Brian Neale, The Dee Tees and The Diamond Four performed at the Golden Venus and Serene House, British servicemen who were here in the 50s already had a rollicking time with big band swing music at a Club at RAF Changi.

A band like the above (image 1) had four blowing instruments, drums and tinkle board. They never needed electric plugs nor solid guitar amplifiers to make music. Like the local pop 60s band after them that played during T-dances, these amateur groups were in great demand especially during the weekends. But these chaps, who called themselves JG, appeared without bow ties, suits nor shoes as they jammed in shirts, shorts and slippers.

Image 3 shows the party goers having a great time on the floor. These young men and women made sure they enjoyed themselves at the Club, dancing perhaps to the sounds of British greats like Ted Heath, Johnny Dankworth, Humphrey Littleton and American swingers like Glen Miller, Harry James and Benny Goodman.

This particular gathering could have been a birthday party with balloons to boot and was held at a ballroom in the Club during the 1950s (image 2). So if the later imports brought RnB, then the earlier ones established swing. And no soft drinks like Green Spot, Sinalco or Mirinda Orange for them but beer, beer, beer, gushing through the bottles for a jolly good time.

"Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo, Track 29, well you can gimme a shine..."

If you are familiar with the above images, please write in.

#The Passing Away Of Edmundo Ros:
[The JG band could have played some Edmundo Ros' Latino music too, who knows. FYI this great music leader had just passed away on 21st October, 2011 at 100 years young. He was one of my favourite musicians, having listened to him nearly every day in the 50s with favourites like The Wedding Samba, Melodie d'Damour, Quizas Quizas Quizas (Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps).]

Images: from Flikr.

Original article with accumulated information from websites: Andy Lim


Anonymous said...

Dear Andy and Randy,

Thank you for your immediate response. Actually I brushed all the corners of the internet before writing to you.

Now, I checked the White Cloud Records also – but there is no mention of the content of the CDs that they sell.

So, I do not know which CD contains the songs that I am looking for. Any CD which contains Ervinna’s rendering of those 9 songs would serve my purpose - but I don’t know which one.

I also googled each of these songs with the name of Ervinna – but no result.

I understand the copyright issues – and as I said already I love to pay for it. I also know that you can’t give Ervinna’s email address to me without her consent. But I would be greatly indebted to you if you could forward my query to Ervinna.

Let me write that I am a lover of music – who has completed doctorate in music (Rev. Dr. Santhosh S Kumar)

What I look is the CD which contains the following 9 songs: (1) Judy, Judy, Judy (2) Seven lonely days (3) I will follow him (4) China doll (5) Please help me I am falling (6) Roses are red (7) She will never never love you (8) Good bye Jimmy, good bye (9) Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkot bikini.

I managed to get the rest (13 of that cassette) from the internet
Thanking you for your help in advance.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Santhosh,

Again I have sent your email to Randy. If it's still a nil response I shall try to check out the CD for you but it may take a while.

Again, if other readers of this blog can help, please write to me and I shall pass the message to Santhosh.


Anonymous said...

From Private email:

I first heard the wedding samba when I was 9 years old, and at friend's house in Branksome Road (Off Tanjong Katong Rd)

His rich father just bought the latest Phillips deluxe record player/Radio which could hold a stack of LPs.

I was enthralled by the rhythmic beat of the the first LP which was 'The Wedding Samba'

The gentle voice of the maestro had a certain allure and I became his fan that instant.
I also remembered some of the other songs which followed...'Tzena Tzena', 'Tico Tico' and 'La Cucaracha'!

Oh what wonderful and happy memories of those days and now the news of his demise makes me sad, may he rest in peace!

Thank you Andy and Larry for the rare recall of pure nostalgia!

From; Arthur.

Anonymous said...

From private email:

I searched my library and only found 4 songs by Ervinna.

It's Now Or Never

None of these are on his list.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Arthur for the memories. Appreciate.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Well Santhosh. Let's hope you get more response. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

From private email:

RAF Changi club could be in 1955.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Dr. Santhosh,

Your problem has been resolved by both Randy Lee from The Stylers and Ervinna.

They will get in touch with you via private email.


E.M. said...

From private email:

Just to let you know that Kassim Slamat is still singing at gigs in his late 70s. So you might want to consider getting out of early retirement!

I'm a guest blogger for Persatuan Bawean Association of Singapore but seldom contribute.


Z said...

Wow, the book by Yusnor Ef is a major discovery for me. I have many songs from that era, now I need that book to accompany them. Please provide some info on where to buy it. Many thanks!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Z,
I have written to Yusnor about your intention to purchase the book.

Please write again and provide your email address, which will not be published on this blog, and I shall send it to Yusnor.

It's a favour I am doing him but if you will wait a bit he may open a website soon where you can purchase his book.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

BTW, only a thousand copies have been issued for sale for the first print.

Anonymous said...

From private email:

Thank you very much for helping me to promote my book. (Unofficial marketing manager).

Yusnor Ef.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Yusnor,
Glad to help. But I am just relaying to you surfers who like to purchase your book.

I am not promoting it for sale but just relating my experience at your book launch (malay music, food, etc) and the readability of your book.


noelbynature said...

27th Oct 2011:
'An Earlier British Invasion'
Posted by 'noelbynature' under Lifestyle

You may be forgiven if you think that the British Invasion referred to the colonial period, or some other theatre of war.

If you are old enough, you’d know that the British Invasion was a wave of music performers from the UK that hit the pop charts in the mid-60s with the likes of performers like the Beatles.

Now Andy helps us remember an earlier Brit Invasion that took place in Singapore a decade earlier.

Funnily enough, the performers of this invasion did actually have something to do with war. They were associated with the Royal Air Force...

Anonymous said...

From 'Eve':

I find that the information is very interesting, well-written and comprehensive at the same time.

How lucky we are that individuals like you have this passion and the wealth of information, not to mention the ability to present it so well.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Eve. Appreciate the bouquet but welcome brickbats too.

You are very kind to make such positive comments about the blog.