Monday, February 06, 2012

Decibels: 1965-1970 A Band In The Making Part 2

Part II:
Decibels drummer Jimmy Chng shares his experience as a band boy in this final episode:
Our very first gig was at someone's birthday party held in an HDB flat in Jalan Bahagia and we were paid $30. Through friends' recommendation and word of mouth, we did get quite a lot of gigs, especially on weekends. These were usually birthday parties, Dinner & Dance parties, festive occasions, Tea-Dances, etc.
We even had an opportunity to play at the Lido cinema, providing background music to models strutting on stage in Maidenform lingerie. This was in conjunction with the screening of the movie, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (image 2).
.As the local music scene matured, the demand for bands with singers ensued. We first had a friend who would sing mostly Johnny Lion's hits. He sang with our band for less than a year. Then Evelyn Tan (image 1) sang with Decibels for a brief period too. She later joined The Siglap Five and made some records under Evey Lyn with The Siglap Five.
Our very first taste of competition was at the Battle Of Guitars (organised by ACE Enterprises) which was held at the National Theatre. We performed well enough to get into the finals but did not win. Our second and last competition which was organised by Rediffusion, was held at the Odeon Cinema. Again, we entered the final but did not win.
We got a 2 month contract to play at Toby's Paradise Bar in Anson Road. We were recommended by The Vigilantes as their contract there had ended and they got a better paying contract at West Point Niteclub in Pasir Panjang. Incidentally, most of the original Vigilantes band members were my classmates in Queenstown Secondary Technical School.
The original Decibels lasted till around 1969 or 1970. We disbanded partly due to waning interest and partly due to fewer engagements coming our way. Charles, our bassist subsequently joined The Tones whilst Steven and Patrick concentrated on their job careers.
My memories of the later stages are not too clear. After some months, I continued the Decibels band with some members from D'Quivers. We had a one month contract at Toby's Paradise Bar this time.
After the contract, the lead guitarist left. We looked for a replacement and managed to find a lead guitarist by the name of Bernard Chua. He had a friend named Samad, who had a very good and powerful voice and we invited him to join us too. He could belt out Tom Jones numbers with ease. I can't remember how long this chapter of Decibels lasted but when we finally disbanded, Bernard went on the join The Hi-jacks.
Image 1/Original Article: Jimmy Chng Collection. All Rights Reserved.
Image 2: Google Images.


Anonymous said...

From email:

So, does anyone remember 'Decibels'? I must say I don't, but my memory's not to be trusted these days.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks L. for spreading the news about 'Decibels' to your email group.

I have put the article up because of Jimmy Chng's methodical explanation of how a guitar group evolved in the 60s.

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for sharing. This kind of story must be documented as part of the Spore Memory Project. Better still, put it in a book.

Anonymous said...

From email:

Thank you Larry and Andy,

We banned 'the twist' back in the 60's... must be the joke of the century.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...


Thank you for the visit. It is still the joke of the century.

Look at the number of books that they banned too and are still not on our library shelves.

I wonder how it benefits our youth.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Chun See,
Thanks for reminding. I called a publisher who did a book recently for a pop duo.

We met and he promised to provide me some feedback but never did.

That was some weeks ago. Just wondering... Is money the only incentive?

FL said...

Hi, Andy, a big thank for posting Jimmy's article of The Decibels Pt 2. Ya, I also heard about the Battle of the guitars contest featuring local bands. It was during my teen years, but I did not have a chance to attend the shows due to our family's circumstances then. I remember our demolished National Theatre (NT) was a popular venue for holding concerts of our local bands/singers in the sixties. While trying to recall my past memory ,I think I attended the local concerts at NT at least twice as a teenager. Also, thanks to Jimmy for the documented article.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi FL,
Yes, your memory of the great old days is benefitting many readers of this blog.

Regarding the National Theatre. As band members we used to comment about Singapore pop fans who watched shows free by climbing trees that were outside the venue.

These people were at the Natural Theatre!

Thanks again for writing and your support.

JimmyChng said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks again for posting Decibels Part II.

I do appreciate your inviting me to be a team writer and even offering to share your blog.

Honestly, I don't think I'm up to it to be a team writer.

Nevertheless, should I recollect any interesting stories pertaining to the 60's pop scene, I'll let you know.

Best regards,

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Jimmy,
Once again thanks for sharing your music story with my readers. I truly appreciate your participation.

In fact I would like to invite others from our faculty to contribute stories of yesteryear for the benefit of younger Singaporeans and readers from afar.

I shall always be waiting for your next tale "pertaining to the 60s pop scene."

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ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you sir for visiting. Glad you like the blog.

I do not correspond with individuals unless there is a specific request.

Anonymous said...

YK07 said...

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ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you YK07, whoever you are. Please come again.

Jaga Nathan said...

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ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

To Byrt Mallanyk:

Hi Byrt,
Thanks for the visit and comment. Glad you like the blog. Please write to me again leaving me your email address. I shall not publish it.

We can correspond afterwards.

PM Fotsch said...

Hi, I am doing research on Toby's Paradise in Singapore and would be very interested in contacting Jimmy Chng and anybody else who recalls the Bar.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I have contacted Jimmy. If he wants to he may write to you but leave your email address with me and I shall pass it on to him without publishing it here.

Thank you for visiting.


Thank you