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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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