Friday, May 18, 2012

Rock Your Socks Off Says Rhythmist Peter Thomas

In 1994 a television interview was conducted by hosts Douglas Oliverio and Lauretta Alabons (image left) on Rollin' Good Times, a show about 60s music in Singapore. Their guest for the evening, Peter Thomas was rhythm guitarist for Naomi and The Boys and presenter/producer for the Radio One programme on the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (image below). The video is on You Tube and was contributed by Joe Wu from Seattle USA.
Introducing Thomas, Oliveiro asked how he came to be in the local music scene. Thomas replied that as a  teenager he was interested in music and owned a guitar and a Gibson Skylark amplifier.  Like other boys he learnt to play the instrument by 'copying' from famed guitar gurus Hank Marvin and others.  After forming a group called The Stompers they participated in the Shadows of Singapore competition and won the top prize.

After leaving the group, he formed another with Robert Suriya who played lead while sister Naomi sang.  To complete the band Alphonso Soosay joined as drummer and Moses Tay played keyboard. They called themselves, Naomi and The Boys (image below).

Those days guitar group followings were massive.  Thomas described that whole families would follow a group and they would include mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts "and pets also."  Like the Quests and others, each group would have their followers to support them during shows at the National Theatre.  According to Thomas the National Theatre was the "proving ground" for pop bands then.  He likened the Theatre to the Apollo in Harlem.
Thomas related a story when The Boys opened for Cliff and The Shadows.  When he went into the dressing room to look for the pop guitar group he was surprised to meet Hank Marvin (image right) dressed only in shorts with a fan blasting on him.  Apparently the Shadows lead was practising his scales before the show. Imagine the situation. "It floored me!" he exclaimed and had all admiration for Marvin's dedication and professionalism.

He also recalled the night clubs at Orchard Road and labelled them "can die" places to hang out.  One of these nightclubs was the Hotel Garni and the other Golden Venus which was "no bigger than half the Badminton Hall". 

Thomas emphasised that an average of  200 people at one time could be seen dancing with tremendous energy to the pulsating music. The crowd was so thick there that dancers placed bets with each other to see if they could "fall down and not stand" in the middle of the floor.  Most times they did it successfully even with a beer in hand.  What made the place more attractive was that band boys who were not doing gigs on Sundays were there. You could probably find "three lead guitarists, four bassists and seven drummers... "  They were either jamming or enjoying the scene (image above for illustration only).

Thomas explained that while the Checkmates could be at GV with Siva and James Choy, the Trailers (image left) were holding court at Roxy (or Palace?) Cinema. They removed seats from the front rows and converted the floor for dancing. They called these sessions Tea Dances and they were held for one reason.  "Forget your genteel earl-grey tea and cucumber sandwiches," he said. "You went in there to rock your socks off!"

At the end of the interview, Thomas discussed how Naomi's  song, I Know became a big hit in Europe after it was released there.  Although the basic tracks of the song were done in a Singapore studio at Sennet Estate the  orchestration and chorus were done in Holland.

Information from: Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, You Tube, Joe Wu.
Images: You Tube and Andy Lim Collection.



You can watch it on You Tube. Click the connection.


Connection to Wikipedia.


Connection to The Shadows:


Hi Andy,
I know I am troubling you.. but doing so since I really need those songs. Will you be able to give me Randy's email address or send a reminder to Randy regarding the Ervinna songs which she agreed to send me through him?

Now it is more than 7 months...and I would be very grateful if you could help me in this matter. Kindly see your communication dated Oct 24th, 2011, at the bottom of this email to be reminded of the case.

Thanking you sincerely,

Santhosh S Kumar

The United Theological College
63 Millers Road, Benson Town
Bangalore 560046, India.



Thank you very much for your immediate reply. Definitely, if Ervinna has not sent Randy the songs we have to respect her wishes. but, since Ervinna told that she would send the songs I think she must have forgotten it.

I do not think she would think of changing her decision. Well, thank you very much for the interest you have taken so far in helping me.

If there is a CD available I would have bought it. But unfortunately CD has not come out for those old songs!

I would be very glad if you would publish my letter. Please...

Thanking you sincerely,
Santhosh S Kumar.


I am Santhosh from India. I would be extremely grateful to you if you could help me get the MP3 of the following songs of Ervinna.

I had a cassette which had 22 English songs of Ervinna, which got destroyed. I have managed to find 13 out of that 22 - but could not get the following 9 songs.

I am ready to pay. Requesting your help – and guidance. Is it possible to get the email id of Ervinna if you don’t have those songs with you?

(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


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Readers can write to Santhosh at his office address for his email.

If readers wish to reveal their email address on this blog please do so and he will write to you direct.

(I do not condone illegal downloads, purchases of CDs or any other business transaction on my blog.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks to you and to Joe for providing that link to the Peter Thomas interview. Do you know what Peter is doing today?



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Steve,
Peter Thomas lives in Indonesia today and if I am not mistaken, he could be in academia. Will write to you soon.

Thanks for visiting.


Thanks Andy,

Just read your comment. Please could you forward Adrain's telephone number please, my e-mail address as requested is...

Thanks alot my dad will be so pleased