Saturday, July 27, 2013

Barry Walker Says Local 60s Bands Of Exceptional Standard Part Two

1. RnB with The Figures and vocalist Barry Walker.
Here's Part Two of soldier boy and band boy Barry Walker's Singapore memories when he was here in the 60's and his involvement with local musicians, faces and places. Barry comes to Singapore time and again. We met for lunch when he was here. 

Dear Andy,

There used to be a brilliant little record shop in Koek Road near the Orchard Road market where we could obtain almost anything pop, rock, blues or middle-of-the -road. The Beatles and The Bee Gees were probably the most popular at the time.
2. Cliff Richard @ a record shop Singapore 60s.
All the bands in Singapore were very friendly; some evenings when we had finished playing we would inevitably end up where another band was playing and finally jam with them, which was fantastic.  If we were playing late other singers/ and musicians would jam with us.  

The music played was very diverse; The Straydogs – Rhythm & Blues; The Trailers – Cliff & The Shadows; of course The Quests who were very original at the time; The Dukes –  almost all of the current hit parade favourites, as did The Shades of Blue. 

Heather and The Thunderbirds played originals and songs of the day, The X-Periment and Fried Ice were also great and us, The Figures / The In-Sect who played a lot of blues and soul music.
3. Fu Manchu? No, they are Pietro and The Warlocks
When all was finished we would head for an old converted house called The Fireplace.   From memory, I think it was a private club of some sort where a couple of Danish hippies, so the story goes, painted the whole house in the most amazing colours and together with the lighting really made it look fantastic! I dread to think what might have been going on in there but what a place. The music played was also brilliant and certainly went with the ambience.

One other place to frequent was The Pub in the basement of the Hotel Malaysia at Tanglin Circus. It was probably the original IN place. 

I recall a guy with a bald head and a really long pony tail who dressed in old Chinese style although he was European.  They were called Pietro and The Warlocks; towards the end of their last set, he would swing his ponytail around like an aeroplane propeller - quite a showman he was.
4. Barry meets popular lead guitarist Derek Fitzgerald from Thunderbirds recently.
The standard of musicianship among the local bands was exceptional and when I think back, some of the instruments and amplification were not good but could the local guys play and get good sounds from them.

Horace Wee
The top musicians of the day as I recall was a guitarist named Horace Wee (left) and a bass player named Winston Filmer.  They and the band they were in were always on local television backing someone or other. 

Derek Fitzgerald of The Thunderbirds (above with Barry Walker) was a very good guitarist as was the guy from Fried Ice whose name I cannot remember.
Sugiman Jahuri

There was also a programme called Talentime.  Who can forget Johnny Tan or Sugiman Johari (right) the Johnny Mathis of Singapore?  

Also, there was Jenakarama where all the top Singaporean talent got to appear, a little like England’s Top of the Pops but the artistes chose what they performed or sang.

The local music paper of the day was Radio Weekly which always had one or two interviews with local bands and singers.

In early 1970 I returned to London where I finished my army career returning to Singapore six months later. I was amazed at the changes in around six months.

The T-Set the band I was with played at The Pub on a six months contract which included occasionally playing in other areas of the hotel, sometimes the roof garden or the ball room depending on what was happening. 

Does anyone remember the residency of Maurice Woodruff the world famous star reading man who apparently could tell your fortune?  One evening he was on stage and had a heart attack and died. Very unfortunate... (check Comment page below about Woodruff).
5. It Figures; Barry Walker's @ microphone.
By this time, most of the local bands had added brass to their line-ups and were playing Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire and Blood Sweat and Tears material besides a lot of Motown stuff. They were brilliant at it. One band, that played in the Pub was Faith whom I thought were exceptional although I don’t know where they were from, possibly Australia?

6. The T-Sets from England @ The Pub Penthouse Disco, Hotel Malaysia.
There was also  a local band playing at the Roof Top of the Oberoi Imperial Hotel called Log Stock and Barrel who were really good Nik Mohamed (ex Siglap 5 and The Dukes ) was their bass player and a guy by the name of 'Kupeh' was their drummer but also played really good guitar and was a very good vocalist. The whole band were really good.
Barry still remembers how great The Blackjacks and other bands were.
Does anybody remember any of the following bands? The New Faces, Family Robinson, The Pakaloloes, The Blackjacks, The Bee-Jays, The Tribes, The Weather and Thunderstorm, Unlimited Stock who I believe became Frustration 5 to name but a few.

Check below Heritage Fest posting for Comments by readers about Barry Walker.

Images numbered 1, 4, 5, 6 are from Barry Walker (Copyrights Reserved).


dino martin peters said...

Mr. Andy, obviously Singapore was a totally totally happenin' place back in the wonder our Dino was hugely popular.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks DMP. Singapore was a happening place all along. Dino was King of Cool before King Elvis came around, even in Singapore. Then the Brits came in and Singapore became hotter...

Barry Walker walked right in.

HORACE WEE said...

Thanks Andy.

A big shout-out to Barry Walker for remembering me as well as his very nice comments.

HORACE WEE said...

Also RIP Rolly Villamil, the keyboardist from D' Starlights. I knew Rolly and attended his wedding but had not been in touch for many years. He joins his former band mates Armado the leader and Eddie Bing saxophone in the big band up there.

Horace Wee

Sent from my iPad

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Horace for your email and appreciation of Barry's write-up. I have sent him a copy of your note.

The information about Mr Villamil is touching indeed. I am sure you, his family, friends and fans will miss him.



Hi Andy

Tks for adding me onto your list. Unfortunately, I cannot consider myself to fall within any of the category mentioned in your 1st paragraph.

So, regret no stories to tell nor relate. However, honoured to be included in your info list.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Ha, ha, the shy but honourable man. Thank you sir for visit and decision.

LARRY LAI said...

Good post!


There was actually a western invasion, so to speak, but it happened at the singapore american school and naval bases. my group Fried Ice had many gigs through 10th Storey and even our own tea dance at Noyes of Wisma Indonesia when the owner offered us this gig, until the long hair ban law came about.

back to your anecdotal comment "Can you play off beat lah?"
lol, yes, i remember how we got told to turn down our amps and stop playing at another top nightspot, because we "cannot play soul music and off-beat", lmao

we bombed that night, and the locals did not get to discover Fried Ice. instead, we survived very well, just playing at the naval bases and SAS.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Matt for information.

Matt Tan was bassist with Fried Ice in the late 60s.


Reverend Jim Michin

you could try finding this album recorded at Horace Wee's Brimstone studio.
Horace was on guitar and productions, and I , Matt Tan (not the other Matthew Tan of offbeat music, but, the rock trio of Fried Ice) on bass.
Jim Michin was on keyboards , and we had a Eurasian girl on vocals.
I think at that time, the drummer was my friend Amir whom i met during my solo gig at Tropicana, as a sub for the regular singer-pianist .

Unknown said...

Hi Andy, do you know any from The Thunderbirds? Im looking for my long lost relative and i lost a picture of him many years back. I know that he is a drummer and the band played in York Hotel before.

Pls do let me know via email.

Unknown said...

Hi Andy, do you know The Thunderbirds personally?

Im looking for a long lost relative, his name is Richard Tan and plays the drum with The Thunderbirds at York Hotel. He should be in his 60s now.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Mary,

Thank you for the mail. As far as I know there was no Richard Tan playing drums for Thunderbirds.

Please provide me your email address but I won't publish it on the blog. Will write to you directly.


Mary said...

Hi Andy,

My email is

I will share with you more details once i get your email. I lost his photo a few years ago because the bag was stolen.


gkf said...

Hello Andy Is this blog still active, Im the drummer from The FAiITH band that played at the pub and I have a lot of info to share

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes this blog is active all the time from Day One. Please write to me again and if you wish to contribute stories. I'd be grateful. Leave me your email address but I shall not publish it.

Thank you gkf. I hope to hear from you.

[I have published this note on my first page story about James Choa (3rd March, 2016) to prove that this blog is very very active.]

Thank you for your visit and interest.

henri gann said...

Great story Andy especially for someone like myself who left Singapore over 50 years ago. It is definitely a "Twilight Zone" experience for me reading the article. Thanks for bringing back the old articles in your blog.