Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Music Journey Of A Singapore 60's Band Boy

I met this gentleman not too long ago when he joined The Silver Strings as a drummer, replacing original percussionist Danny Boy who had a private commitment.  When I asked him for a write-up about his pop music journey he was kind enough to oblige. 

I must admit that not many local band members who played during those golden years of Singapore music have been so willing as the stories came few and far between. But this music man is an exception. 

John Cher's Music Trail

Started to observe a classmate who could play drums.  I was 13 years old then. He showed me the basic stroke/tempo and was surprised I could do it the next day.

Started to play on biscuit tins of different sizes with chopsticks.  My elder brother was a saxophonist in the Montfort Secondary School Band.  By a stroke of good luck, together with a few of his friends, they formed a band playing music like I Left My Heart In San Francisco and such... I was in Secondary 2.  They were about 6 or 7 years older and were working.  

My dream became a reality when the drummer of my brother's band bought a new drum set.  I started playing on it in the day when no one was around. One day they had a "practice" but the drummer could not make it.  

Reluctantly they allowed the kid to play and were pleasantly surprised that I could do it better than their drummer.  We were playing Danny Boy.

From then on, we had small gigs at weddings, birthdays and the usual.  I always remember playing at Tanjong Inn in the late 1960's for a party  It was my first taste of playing commercially.  Shortly thereafter I joined McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers and was flattered when a girl colleague could recognize me from the gig.  

While at McGrawHill, I started a band with four other boys from the printing department. They were all from K.L.  The band's name was incredible - Raindrops Carnation Revival!  We did the usual party rounds, took part in the RTS Talentime on TV and made it to the quarter finals.

After that everything stopped for about 20 years as we focused on careers and families. I started playing again with the Music Ministry of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  While in this church group, I met my old neighbour and school mate, Peter Chua, who was at that time still singing with SBC.  

Subsequently we played together commercially as well.   The brand new Punggol Marina and its cruise ship The Columbus gave us a lot of opportunities to perform.  My thanks to William Lai,  the boss of P.M.  Together with Peter and the Swing Js, we played just about every 5-Star hotel in Singapore at various private functions.   

These hotels and clubs would include the Shangrila, Ritz Carlton, The Mandarin, Pan Pacific, Tanah Merah Country Club, Singapore Island Country Club and the Keppel Club. 

Together with Tony Kwek (of the Mysterians),  James Choa (of the Flamingos) and  Joe Woon (of Easy Beats) and Veronica Young, we also played several charity gigs for the Lions Club, Changi.
Peter and The Swing Js
Last year, together with Alex Wong and Frens,  we played at the finals of the Silver Carnival on Channel 8.   At about the same time, together with Hans Solo and The Inspirations, we played at The Singapore Swimming Club.

I count myself lucky to be approached by Audie Ng of Silver Strings to do the drums.  We have been performing for a few public shows and there are a few more big gigs line up for the rest of SG50.

Together with the other members of The Silver Strings, we hope to have lots of fun playing the music of the 60's.

Images: John Cher (Copyright).                       


SLIP NOTE: 14th May, 2015.

The passing away of B.B. King was announced. He died in Las Vegas on May 14th, 2015 at 89.  

In 1969 he touched millions around the world with his hit, The Thrill is Gone.  This great music man was one of the most acclaimed guitarists of his generation. With his demise he left a void that has not been filled. 

We send our condolences to his family. Rest in peace Mr King.   


Linda said...

Wonderful post, thank you!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you. Glad you like the post. Hope you are learning about Singapore too. The little red dot?

P and T said...

Wow! on National Television. Amazing. Congratulations.

JC said...

I just had an email from Tan Soo Khoon. He said, "You guys were really enjoying yourselves." I'm inclined to agree with him. We all had fun! Cheers!

Wilf said...

At our age we can only rock the boat and have FUN.

CYLIN said...

Hey Andy, wonder if you and your blog had a big part to play in getting this show on its feet. It was thoroughly enjoyable -- noticed the audience was a good mix of all ages and if the rest of the episodes is as 'rocking and rolling', your aim in passing down S'pore 60's music is achieved.
'Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end'......... true!!! --- we're reliving them.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Lin for the positive comment.

Anonymous said...

Should have named your former band Hans Solo and the Star Walkers hahaha