Sunday, January 27, 2013

70s Singapore Band Boy Writes From Australia

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A regular reader of this blog and practicing business and trade adviser from Sydney, Australia, Byrt Mallanyk wrote in to tell me about his young and active evenings in Singapore 70s as a pop singer with the Sundowners.  Here is his edited letter:

                                                    YouTube Video by ueblarp: The Straydogs, Freedom (1971).
Hi Andy,

Its great to hear from you – thank you for writing. 

A bit of history:  

My last two performing contracts in Singapore with the Sundowners were at the Hilton (our contract was extended 4 times – so it becomes like home for the band - our band manager then was Alphonso Soosay, and then from the Hilton we went to the Cockpit in the Victoria Lounge/Bar – not sure what it's called now. 

We also did the Holiday Inn for 2 years, Hyatt, and Mandarin also. I have played in other places around the Orchard Road vicinity, including Equatorial and Orchid Inn in my earlier days – my first semi proband was in ‘68 during my National Service days and then I went pro-full-time end of ‘69 after I finished my military bout – glad I did it but never again.   I was in the very first batch of NS  in 1967.

Ray Anthony
The Sundowners were one of the earlier pioneers of the Lounge Music craze that hit Singapore during the late sixties, an era that spawned a legitimate industry for musicians back then – it was huge – we made a lot of money – and we spent big too haha. 

The usual names during that 70s era were Adam and Ben, Tradewinds, Tania, Matthew, and the Mandarins, and us, the Sundowners – I was the lead singer – many more band names I have forgotten. 

My earlier heroes were Joe Chandran and the Experiments, Pest Infested, Stray Dogs, and even earlier; Benny and the Trailers and Vernon and Quests – there were so many more – I can’t remember for now. I caught up with Ray Anthony (lead guitarist for Heritage and Fried Ice) a few years back as he was on his way to Taiwan. I know him and his brother Leslie well.

Your Blog:

Everything you wrote and every place or movie you mentioned, and every star you talked about in your blog were part of my precious memories – so thank you VERY much.
Many of the cinemas and clubs you mentioned are held fondly in my memories because I have crossed your path during my school days and also during my adult days as a musician. Nowadays its so hard to find similar era people to talk to or relate with – they are either not in the music business to relate with or too old or not around to talk to where I live.

Coming from a musical family, I found my music roots in soul and RnB which still influences my style till today. My sister (in an even earlier era) played piano and drums and was the lead singer for many bands that played the RAF bases. Her era had heroes like Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis etc. I grew up discovering the wonderful music of the 50s while in school and was influenced by artists like Bill Haley and the Comets, Rick Nelson, Paul Anka, and others.  
Most of the Singaporeans here in Sydney (I meet only very few) are just too young to remember the early days of Singapore, even before street lights came on our main streets, or before TV came (I was there at Victoria Theatre in ‘63 when TV was first shown in Singapore. I don’t think they even believe that Singapore was once very wild in landscape, bushy, and naturally green – I caught many fighting spiders in those bush lands to attest to that. Oh so much to share.

I wrote to you because you have a fascinating insight and collection on a past I hold so passionately. So few today can relate to that era. Its us guys who must preserve it. In the last 4 years the urge to retrace my music roots in Singapore began to emerge and began to grow stronger each year – I must begin to blog on it soon. What you have in formation and memories far exceed what I can do.

My Homes:
Jalan Bahagia was my last address in Singapore before moving to Australia. My first gig ever was at a private party in Toa Payoh (while it was still only partly developed) - I played bass then but had no idea what I was doing – my band then was Hard Timers Hail and then I was invited to do lead vocals for a great band called Crude Stuff – we had a fabulous lead guitarist by the name of Bala – not sure where he is now – the last time I heard he got drafted - ah those raw days. 

What I would like to plan for the future is to gather these people in the era we are chatting about in one place for a conference on the 70's Music. I have some thoughts and strategy on it. I may be coming to Singapore sometime late August or September this year (if my schedule allows) – would be nice to catch up then. I hope to connect with as many of my peers as possible – just the guys I played with - a reminiscing time, you could say.


Byrt Mallanyk.
Trusted Mentor to Business Owners
National Winner of the Australian Tourism Award for Excellence

SIKU Fashion Group Australia – Co-Founder.

A part of my resource goes into reversing poverty by helping build urban micro enterprises.

You Tube Video by: ueblarp.

Images from: Google and acknowledged sites.
Original article: Copyrights Reserved.



I was the lead singer for the Sundowners (not the one you referred to in your blog) we were a 70s band - we played amongst other clubs at the Hilton and Holiday Inn and the other venues on Orchard Road.

I do know and recall with fondness all those places and bands you blogged about and it delighted my heart so much.

I left Singapore to live in Sydney back in 1977 - my last gig being at the Victoria bar again with the Sundowners at the Cockpit. At that time we were a 3 piece: myself, Colin Gabriel and John Than. I have been in several groups since 1968. I still play in Sydney with other musicians.

I gotta say that there isn't much in the archives on the Singapore bands in the 70s - I hope to do something to make sure those memories are recorded somewhere - I would love to catch up one day.
Thank you again for such a great blog of memories.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The above letter from Byrt started it all and I encouraged him tell his story on the blog.

He agreed and the post you read shows it all.

Thank you Byrt.

BYRT said...

I appreciate what you are doing with your blog.

I don’t know about you but I find it hard to find mutual age musicians and music enthusiasts like you who ‘understands’ what went on in music in Singapore back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

I remember seeing one picture in your blog that showed (an older) Horace with other people. I remember as if it was like yesterday, during my music days in Singapore, I used to admire Horace from a distant when he was with TV Singapore – to me he was larger than life back than.

I was playing at the Hilton and he played at the Ming Court (I understand it's not there anymore) and I would drool at his amazing musicianship – I always remember him playing the flute. Great days!

God bless you pal.

HORACE WEE said...

Thanks Andy.

Its great to hear nice things from people that do remember me those past years. I am honored that I have been able to touch a part of their lives.

Today, anything that is older than 10 years/decade, is retro, and all of it thrown into one bin.This is probably due to the rapid changes in technology that has changed the way the human race thinks.No one seems to care about information beyond 10 years. Therein lies the crux of the problem! If one does not care to know the past history,(music as well as other events) how can we expect any understanding or appreciation. The CD is slowly going away and soon the subsequent generations will not be able to use a pen to write.

Hey, when was the last time you saw someone do a written calculation without reaching for a calculator?

Fortunately, you still have to use your human brain to be a creative musician,vocalist or composer. No technology has been able to replicate this. SO FAR!


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Byrt,

One for the road. Your comment and posting. Thanks to readers like you this blog is still alive.



I do remember the Sundowners, which I had thot then was a lovely name that reference to a popular song at the time. If ever there was a grooving song, this is it!

The idea of a conference is good. I am sure many babyboomer generation folks would attend. I won't be surprised if a younger generation too, judging by recent newspaper reports. Likely outcomes could be a reissue of original local band performances on disc, a retrospective, as well as new tunes or interpretations. Or even a book launch of what it means to be a travelling musician in these parts. BM's recollection of a private party in TPayoh is intriguing.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

1) Thanks TC for your comment regarding BM's suggestion on the posting. Hope he reads this one.

2) The comment on TCLai's connecting link is in reply to my note to the FOYers group last week. Here is the letter:

"I'm sure you've all seen this movie. If Seniors have been keeping in touch, you know it's not the Batman/Robin, "Bam, wham, alakazam" of yore. Gotta get away from the 60s sometimes...

If you haven't let me know how it relates to our present situation. TC, this one's for you.

"Structures become shackles" quote from: 'The Dark Knight Rises'.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

I am an undergraduate student majoring in music teaching, and in the course of my studies, I was introduced to and became interested in Singapore's popular music scene in the 60s.

Incidentally, "Freedom", was one of the songs played to us during our lesson. I feel really lucky that I am able read the stories of the people who wrote this song, and no less from the lead singer himself. I must thank both Byrt Mallanyk for writing about his experience and yourself for creating this blog.

Sadly, as a Singaporean youth, I too share the sentiments that the valuable experiences and personal histories of the past are under-appreciated today. In fact, it had never occurred to me that Singapore actually had a popular music scene in the 60s before I learnt about them in school. I really appreciate your blog as I enjoy the stories of Singapore's music scene that would have been otherwise left undocumented.

To me, the lack of awareness of Singapore's popular culture in the past is a very pertinent issue today. I have so many questions that I would like to ask you, and I'd appreciate it if I could discuss them with you via e-mail.

Thank You!

Clinton Carnegie said...

Hi Andy, I've been following your blog for a long time -- what a great body of work!

I managed to catch up with Ray Anthony a couple of days ago at one of his rare gigs in Singapore and did an interview with him which you can read here:

Keep up the work on your wonderful site!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you very much sir. Glad I've struck another note within the family scale. I shall read your article soon.

I am also following your postings. Thanks for following mine.


Thank you Andy.
Wishing you and your family every happiness and many blessings in this New Year 2017.
Best always,


Happy new year Andy


In the mid-’70s.

The Sundowners were the Best Vocal Lounge Act then. Their contacts were extended again and again. Delightful musicians to work with. Wonderful to hear about them again.

Yes. Nice memories Andy.

I had a rehearsal studio then. That was where I met the many talents of Singapore. Gingerbread was also another great performing Band that I am really proud who also achieved number 1 hit songs as a recording artist with WEA Records Thanks for the wonderful memories. Cheers 🥂