Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Johnny Lion Jumping Jewels Record Merlion Song

On the Singapore Memory Trail

JL and the JJ.  Early years.

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Johnny Lion and his group The Jumping Jewels had been here many times and were so popular in the 1960s that teenage girls followed him around everywhere he went.  Whether they were appearing in the Arundel Room at Goodwood Park Hotel, at the Odeon Cinema in North Bridge Road or even at the Paya Lebar Airport where they landed, these places would be bustling with clamoring fans, especially girls.
On stage at the Convention Centre Suntec City 2003.

They were as popular as the other pop singers who hailed from the Netherlands, namely, The Blue Diamonds and Anneke Gronloh. This particular line-up consisted of vocalist Johnny Lion, whose real name is Jan van Leeuwarden, with Hans van Eijk on solo guitar, Tjibbe Veelo on rhythm guitar, Joop Oonk on bass guitar, Frits Tamminga on drums from 1960-1963 and Kees Kranenburg Junior on drums  from 1963-1965.
In the lobby of hotel Marina Mandarin in Singapore.

When reporters asked him about marriage during an interview in the early 1960s, he said that getting hitched was out of the question because he just wanted to sing for his fans and make them happy. His career meant everything for him. The other members of the group nodded in agreement.
The Merlion

Jump forward 40 years and even as late as 2003 when Lion and the Jewels sang at the Convention Centre at Suntec City for a gig called, 60s Now the Return of Pop Music Legends, the place was filled to near capacity with his now Senior fans.

And the members at the Hollandse Club in Singapore were jumping like jelly beans when the gang met up with Riem de Wolff, the younger of the two Blue Diamonds brothers before their evening show.

Lion Song For Lion City

So with that kind of popularity who did you think was asked to record a song about Singapore? When Lion was here in May 1964 and the offer made, he heard the melody and lyrics for the first time.  It was called, Merlion City Singapore and one that would help popularize the island as a tourist destination.

Johnny Lion with framed award
According to a *newspaper article, the song was written by Mr Eddie Gomes a former Kuala Lumpur bandleader and his wife Trudy Conner, a singer and pianist.  When Lion heard the song sung by Connor he said he had to discuss it first with his Jewels.

A Singapore song by a Dutch singer and written by a Malaysian. That's going global right?  Or outsourcing?

Did Johnny Lion finally record the song? If you have the answer please write in to enlighten us. We are all anxious to know. I'd love a copy of the vinyl record.

*Straits Times Press Singapore.

Ginny Come Lately 

Johnny Lion passed away. Check connection to read.

Images: Google and Jumping Jewels website at:

(This is an original posting with information from ST.)




What was the tune again, I remembered it was 4 instrumentals on an EP for Malaysia bro..nona nona, kapal ladju, nina bobo and stambul bunga mawar

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes Freddie. It's been a while since we met. Last time outside the lobby at Orchid Country Club in 2010. That's how long ago it was.


One of my favourite Johnny lion songs is JUDY. Do you remember the song? It goes' "You came out of heaven to make me happy dear..."

OCH said...

Andy! When are u going to have a drink wth me? Its been a long long time. Want to update you about the 60's music revival in small old Taiping town in Perak.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks for response. Kopi anytime. Please update me about music revival in Tpg. Grateful. Always welcome stories about 60s music, especially in Malaysia.

Jumping Jewels Site said...

"In late 1965, popular instrumental combo The Jumping Jewels fell apart. Lead guitarist Hans van Eijk announced he was going to quit being a full-time musician. The plan was for rhythm guitarist Tjibbe Veelo to become the lead guitarist and to augment the band with an organist and a saxophonist, as well as to start backing singer Rob de Nijs (the biggest rival of Johnny Lion). There was a big row with Johnny Lion and their manager over this, upon which Veeloo, bassist Joop Oonk and drummer Kees Kranenburg Jr. decided to find a replacement for van Eijk and continue as a beatgroup." (Edited)

Read the full story by clicking Site above.

chakap chakap said...

You tube video is up with Danny Koh and Jimmy Chan, the first pianoman from The Trailers and the second from The Quests. They play Flintstones, a theme song from the cartoon.

FL said...

Oh, yes, Johnny Lion and the Jumping Jewels performed in Singapore in the sixties when I was a secondary school students. But then, I ain't got money to watch their performances. Heard their songs thro the radio and Redifusion, and also, the Radio Weekly paper. At that time, the JJ had popular tunes, like Irish Washerwoman and More. J Lion had popular songs like Judy and You've done it again !

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ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks FL for your important feedback about Johnny Lion and the JJs. They were certainly very popular in the 1960s. Glad to learn that you're also a big fan of this group. Those years home entertainment was without the TV and many home lovers play board-games like chess and Chinese checkers to keep themselves occupied. Listening to the record was part of the home scene.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A big thank you to:
Zhen Shu Cai, Roy Chew, Zhen Shu Cai, Doris Lim, Freddie Kang and Erwin Maisch for comments on FB.

Also thanks to anon for his constant comments about the blog. Sorry I can't connect all your business websites here. It will be unending.

MICHAEL said...

Hi Andy,
Apologies for taking so long to reply to this thread. Better late than never.

Hi Rickie,
You can reach Aloysius Soh at his email...

I believe Bobby and Aloysius do still keep in touch. Other than Charlie Yap who still play together with Aloysius in another band -Locomotion, the rest have mostly retired.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Michael, here's my note to Aloysius. Hope he replies. If you wish to get in touch with me just write in again with your email address which I won't publish and I shall reply.

Hi Aloysius,

How are you my friend? I am Andy whom you accompanied for our Silver Strings gigs. I have a posting done a few years ago and there are people trying to keep in touch with you. Click the connection and you can read about Michael, Ricky and others who are interested in a get-together.

Just reply to acknowledge receipt so I know you have received my mail.

Warm Regards,

ALOYSIUS said...

Thanks Andy for keeping in touch and best regards to all my friends.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

For Hock, FL and all the others who mentioned the song in their emails. It's my favourite too. Judy is on the posting from You Tube.

HAPPY TAY said...

Hello Guys,

A note from Guru to all his buddies:

The music of the 60's that we "grew up" with!

Brings back fond memories, too!

Music keeps you "forever young"!!

Cheers and enjoy,

Guru HT

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Guru Happy. I have put up your note to celebrate the guitar groups of the 60s. And that includes The Jumping Jewels.

CATRIN said...

Hi Andy , i happened to chance across your blog which shares about the past of Singapore. I am currently a researcher for ochre pictures and we are conducting a researching for our show , "There was a Time Season 2" ( "Season 1" was broadcasted in Channel 5) .

I find some of your post exceptionally interesting . May i Know if you will be able to share more with us on the past of Singapore from the period of 1965-1979 through a short interview session? Some of the topics to ponder are the resettlement issue , campaigns back then and life of Singapore in that period of time? Hope to hear a reply from you soon.


I only know Johnny Lion's most favourite song in Singapore is Teenage SenoritaI a surprise is not on his hits CD that I bought.I saw Johnny and the Jumping Jewels the first time at the Odeon Cinema in the 60s.The last time was their show at Suntec along with Riem De Wolfe of the Blue Diamond fame.


Yes Teenage Senorita is on The Complete Collection of Johnny Lion and The Jumping Jewels a double cd compilation and the song is on CD1 Track 3 if you want a copy of the 2CD set, pm me... Cheers!!


Johnny Lion is holding one of his framed Gold Disc, he may have sung Merlion Song at the Odeon Theatre but the closest band that recorded The Lion Song is our local band The Overheads featuring Vernon Cornelius on vocals and Lim Thian Soon on lead guitar incidentally is Rex Goh's (Air Supply) uncle...


Andy Young
It's a question that not many Singaporeans can answer. CHECK OUT the story on the blog. Did he record...

Hiroshi Deguchi
I'm surprised The Jumping Jewels were so popular in SG. Seems like every country has its favorite bands from other countries. You would be shocked to hear the American bands called The Astronauts, The Chantays also the Finish group named The Sounds were very popular.

The lead guitarist of The Sounds passed away the day before yesterday. Talking about Merlion Songs, all I know is The Jewels recorded some Malay songs. I never heard they play "Singapura" or "Count On Me Singapore".

Stephen Han
The late Johnny Lion was a favourite singer of mine.I watched him singing all popular songs of other singers like “Come On Everybody” by Eddie Cockran and 'Everyday' by Buddy Holly at the defunct Odeon Cinema in 1962 and again with the Jumping Jewels. Rhiem De Wolfe of the Blue Diamonds was on stage too.

Andy Young
Hey Hiroshi and Stephen. Thanks for the outstanding comments from two experienced 60s music experts. Yes, different countries have their favourite bands from other places, Hiroshi. And you are familiar with them too. And the Odeon Cinema was the venue for JL/JJ during their evening appearance, Stephen. JL/JJ always have their own repertoire caught on by our local followers.

Thanks for sharing Victor.


Koh Daisy
Don’t know the answer to your question but I was one of the crazy teens who hung around Goodwood Park Hotel to catch a glimpse of Johnny Lion and JJ when they came in 1962. 🤣🤣🤣

Freda Hanum
Such an interesting article Johnny Lion and Jumping Jewels, was naive still in my schooldays.

Andy Young
THANKS ladies, yes they were an exciting lot with their golden hair and tall physique. Those teen and past teen years. Like today, when the young ones scream for BLACKPINK and BTS.

Thanks to all who like this post.


Good morning, Andy
Please let me show you a little video that me and my daughter sing "Emma" This is the old Finish folk song and The Sounds played as an instrumental number which became very popular even in Japan in early 60s.

I learned the song when I was traveling Northern Finland in 72. I met a drunk who tried hard to teach me the song "Emma" I couldn't get all the lyrics down at the time. Later over 45 years later a Finish friend sent me the words and pushed me to try again.

The melody is not so hard to learn because there seems to be something familiar to Asian ears and the song is made up of Minor chords.

Hi Hiroshi thanks for the song, It's lovely. The harmony is superb. Please thank your daughter too. I must look up the internet for the song.


Stephen Han
Johnny Lion sang ”Teenage Senorita” in 1962 at Odeon Cinema and I love that song till now

Koh Daisy
Still remember the lyrics… was not allowed out at night to go see the show then. 😫😫😫

Andy Young
YES one of his top songs.
Thanks Stephen


Andy Young
Again thanking everyone who reacted to MR LION AND HIS JEWELS, ha ha. I always appreciate comments for the blog postings, even if there are a few of them. The LIKES too, since many have no time to check the posts but just to fly by with their HELLOS. Thanks.

Andy Young
And special thanks to HIROSHI who's been telling me his beautiful tale of the song EMMA by the SOUNDS. This gentleman is astoundingly an experienced traveller. I hope he gives me permission to put up his story on the blog.

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