Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rex Goh: Singapore to Madison Square Garden, NY

Thanks to friends and readers for support.


This Blog's 8th Anniversary Special Story about a Singapore guitar hero:

Even before Stephanie Sun and JJ Lin stepped into the limelight and stardust of the international arena, we have a music maker who has made a name for himself beyond our shores way back when in the 1970's.

You must know Air Supply?  Well, let's find out who was the Singapore guitar hero accompanying the Australian group from July 1977.   Here's drummer and this blog's regular contributor John Cher, on this anniversary special posting, to tell us about another of his music buddies.

Rex Goh: Crossroads - Eric Clapton Tribute - Steppin' Out - (Uploaded on Jun 11, 2011, Enmore Theatre, Sydney, 11th June 2011.)

Rex Goh was the first Singaporean to join the ranks of rock music superstars.  Without a shadow of a doubt,  the best known pop guitarist that Singapore has ever produced. 
During secondary school days, my buddy Henry Tay, used to have a band and we played together occasionally.  Rex was playing for Henry's band for a few months.  Of course, he just blew everyone away whenever he played.  Even as a teenage musician, he was head and shoulders above everyone else!  It wasn't long before he graduated to playing commercially. 
One of the first places he played at was;  The Pub, a disco at Hotel Malaysia, later to become Marco Polo Hotel. The band's name was 1 2 3.   Another local guitar hero,  the late Reggie Verghese (lead guitar: The Quests) praised Rex and said that, " he was very good and that his guitar had that certain sound". 

Rex migrated to Australia at aged 21. All for love and for music!  At a point in history when even Bruce Lee had to face racial discrimination it is not hard to imagine the challenges that Rex had to face to break into the music scene in a white man's world.  

But he not only broke into it, he made it to the peak and performed with the best in the  business. In 1973 Rex was voted the best guitarist in South Australia - a title which brought him much deserved recognition.
He auditioned and became the lead guitarist of Air Supply. The group toured the entire length and breath of Australia. But the real big, dream break came when Air Supply toured the U.S. and was the supporting act for Rod Stewart. 

Among other venues, Air Supply played at Madison Square Garden. On opening night, Rex said his legs were shaking.   Playing to a cheering crowd of about 80,000 people. It was a fantasy come true. It really couldn't get bigger than Madison Square Garden. They did 52 concerts in America.
Rex left Air Supply after the tour.  During this time he studied jazz music, five days a week  for two years. But while he studied jazz music, his real  interest was to play pop music.  It wasn't long before  Graham Russell called and invited Rex to rejoin for a second tour. By now Lost in Love was huge in America.  The band was invited to appear on Solid Gold, a premier prime-time music show which was hosted by Dionne Warwick.  

The show was telecast in Singapore, generating a great sense  of pride among musicians and music lovers here. It was truly a  dream realized for a young man. It was everybody's favourite story, about the local boy who made good!  The parallel to this would be Bruce Lee making it big in America with The Green Hornet.
Rex Goh's family used to live in Seletar.  He fondly remembers his mom giving him a ukelele when he was 8 years old.  He enjoyed playing the uke but no one in his wildest imagination would have anticipated the distance he would go. He eventually took to playing rhythm guitar. 

A neighbour and well known local musician, Benny Chan, encouraged him to do so. (Benny used to be with The Checkmates, Richard Ortega and The Ortegas, which played at the Tiara Supper Club at The Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore).   

For two years he just played the rhythm guitar before eventually taking up the lead guitar.  As a young guitarist he was heavily influenced by Hank Marvin followed by Eric Clapton. Two great guitarists with totally different styles of playing.  
Besides Air Supply, Rex has played for Glen Campbell, Savage Garden, Tom Jones, The Supremes, Randy Crawford, Temptations, Soul Decision, Eurogliders, Renee Geyer, Tommy Emmanuel and  Wes Carr. The list goes on.

The last time Rex was in Singapore was in April 2015.  He performed at  D'Marquee, Downtown East with his old band The Flybaits.  Rex's brother, Steven, a guitarist as well, used to have a band in Singapore known as The Formations.

Rex Goh is still living his Rock and Roll life and loving every moment of it!  It sure beats selling shoes at Victoria Market!

Thanks for your music Rex.  You are influencing people whom you will never meet nor ever know.  However, one day in the not so distant future,  another superlative guitarist would appear and say, my greatest mentor and my greatest guitar hero was, REX GOH!

All the very best Rex!

Write-up by John Cher (right).
Copyrights Reserved.

Images: A personal collection and Google.

You Tube Video by Colin Hay: 'Rock From The Crowd".  Uploaded on June 11 in 2011, @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Aus.

Many thanks to Rex and John for making this posting happen. One of my best birthday gifts this year of 2015.


Unknown said...

Dear Andy,

May God bless you today and always! Happy Birthday brother!


John Cher


Congrats Andy.

The Rex Goh feature was informative and mind blowing.
Well done John Cher !

Sent from my iPhone

Linda said...

Another great post. Happy Birthday, Andy! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for this very informative biography of Rex whom I'm also very proud of being a Singaporean and sharing the same surname (that's where the similarity ends). I saw him played at a recent Tribute concert to the Beatles as a backing guitarist. ..he's simply awesome and very modest. He's in great demand as a session musician in Australia for all the major TV Shows. Hope to catch up soon, John


Dear Andy,
A very interesting write-up by John Cher on Singapore's very own "Guitar Hero" Rex Goh. What a revelation! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I remember watching the Solid Gold music shows on TV back then and felt a sense of pride whenever Air Supply was featured. Their songs appealed to me and in addition, the Solid Gold dancers were a delight to watch too.


Hi Andy

Congratulation to your success and achievement for the past 8 years writing all sorts of nice stories put forth in your blog. It is certainly good for the younger generation to be made aware of that time period and at the same time bring back fond memories of the past music scene.

Keep up the good work.


frankmichaelchiara said...

Hi Andy

Thanks for the quick response. Happy has actually just connected with me on Facebook (based on your screen grab!) and I should be able to liaise with him from there. Like I said, I am more of a 70s guy.

I am a historian by profession and have done research on Singapore history even though I am primarily an American cultural historian. Feel free to tap me for assistance ... cheers!

Guru Happy said...

Cool !!!! Another S'pore Legend in the Music world. You really rock the world Rex, though we met only briefly when you were playing some of the gigs locally during the 60s. Cheers and thanks to you, and John Cher for the story on your blog. Andy.

By the way, Andy, thanks also, for putting me on to my "long lost" Cousin (Frank Chua), who now lives in the US. Because of you and your blog, we're now back in communication and of course, have lots to catch up. As I've mentioned to you earlier, "Andy's Blog" will always be around, long after you, and I, leave this stage to be in another part of the world. God Bless All

YUSNOR EF said...

Dear Mr Andy

Congratulations for your wonderful Block which has much information and knowledge for me and especially for the young musicians.

I am ready to share my experience on Malay Music since 1940 with your readers anytime.

Thank you.

Bird Dog said...

In the early 80s when Solid Gold was the rage, I remembered standing by my VCR waiting for Air Supply with Rex Goh to appear. I recorded it & kept that for many years. It was a great thrill to see so many great Western artistes in action during those pre YouTube days. It was also a time when Cantonese serials had an economic stranglehold on Chinatown. All stalls will close early just to see what happened to Chow Yuen Fatt in 'Man in the net'. My impression then all things Chinese were uncool but I was also sucked into following that series.

REX GOH said...

Hi John
Yes I have, it read really well thank you, regards Rex

JOHN CHER said...

Hi Rex

I am very glad you like what we did and thanks very much for your kind comment.

I will convey what you said to my friend, Andy Lim, who is the man who created the blog singapore60smusic.

When the cd cover is ready, do email or whatsapp to me so that we could insert it into the article.

All the best to you Rex!


SHUN NG said...

Hi Andy!

This is Shun Ng.

How are you? I hope you are doing well! I got your email from a classical music director in Singapore.

I'm doing a concert in Singapore next week, December 6th at the Jubilee Hall. I would like to invite you to attend my concert as my guest.

I'll be coming with 3 incredible gospel singers from America, my new group; the Shunettes!

I've attached a poster and here is a link to a sample of what we do!

Ticket link: http://www.sistic.com.sg/events/roc2015

YouTube music link:
Shun Ng & the Shunettes - Get On with it

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Yours in music.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I can only thank all of you for the comments and invites I've received. Excuse me for taking so long to reply but I was on a short holiday with my folks.

What a coincidence! Two renowned rock guitarists and both with the Singapore connection.

I must thank JOHN CHER for writing about our superb 70's rock guitarist, internationally well known REX GOH who filled the current posting this week.

And another wonderfully talented guitarist is on the way to Singapore to give a concert. He is SHUN NG and hot, hot, hot. Shun will be accompanied by his group The Shunettes.

To both the artistes (REX and SHUN) on the same page this week and to all readers and contributors, it's really been a great November. I hope to survive December and 2016.


for thumbs up on FB.

BENNY CHAN said...

I think you've done an excellent job John. Can't find anything negative. So brilliantly articulated.


Unknown said...

Hi Andy. You must have known by now that Shun Ng was informed by his managers, while he was here in Singapore to perform at Jubilee Hall, that he won The Boston Music Award for 2015!
One more feather in the cap for Singapore Musicianship! Congrats Shun! Cheers! John Cher


Wonderful heartfelt guitarist, lovely guy.


Amazing technically and inspirational creatively


Congrats Rex


Sir Russell we love you from Nicaragua, you are my idol and i hope to see you in a concert one day. Thanks for all, you are the best singer of the history for me 💖


great big brother and a wonderful musician!!! :)


Incidentally Rex Goh was also the lead guitarist in this gospel song. Listen to his awesome guitar solo at 5:37 onwards I still enjoy listening to it till this day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja1-5IRHJq0

DANNY TSUN said...

He is indeed.. that's part of what makes him a great player and all round great guy. If you're in Sydney, hope to catch you around sometime. I do shows , (not as much as I'd like to, but hey..) www.dannytsun.com Cheers, all the best to you too.

DANNY TSUN said...

Rex is 'the man'! (Y) He deserves more credit than he already gets.. I'm very privileged to play alongside him on occasion..


Este hombre junto con David Moyse, hicieron los maravillosos solos de guitarra para AIR SUPPLY en los ochentas, gracias Rex Goh!!!!!


Amazing player and a cherished friend

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Above comments dated 22.11.2016 come from JOHN CHER'S FACEBOOK PAGE.
If you have an FB account you can connect by keying in his name.


On the 2009 (10?) Joni tribute gigs we did, Rex had to learn a stack of Joni's tunings & the chord shapes for the songs, buy & learn how to operate the Roland V guitar brain that Joni ended up using live to avoid carrying dozens of guitars or endless onstage tuning, & MD the band. Never put a foot wrong. Remarkable.


Nature's gentleman and a genius guitarist ! Right on Rex !


Hey Rex you were not only from SG but play one like a true master of the instrument! Keep the Faith

SIMON WONG said...

Holy Blessed YAHushua Bless




Yeah. .I had the pleasure of playing on the same stage at the pub..Singapore. .many moons ago....


Thank you John ! You are very kind !

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

That's what I thought so too. John Cher is a very kind man. Wears his heart like a badge for all to see. The sign below reads, "I'm available all the time. Just tell me how I can help you."

My thanks to him for bringing in REX GOH's friends to this blog.

chakap chakap said...

*RUSSELL HITCHCOCK attended South Brunswick State School. He later attended Princes Hill High School in Carlton North. In 1965, he left school to work as a salesman. At that time, he played the drums and was the lead vocalist in a band called "19th Generation".

At the age of 20, he obtained a job in the division of a computer company and worked there for three years, before being promoted and transferred to Sydney. He formed Air Supply after meeting British musician Graham Russell in 1975, on the set of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

(Thank you for your response to the FB and reading this posting.)


remember watching Rex play when I was based in Singapore back in very early 70's. :) Then when he joined Air Supply here in Australia... Amazing guitarist


"Let's GoH" at Shadows Crows Nest when I was a kid... what a great gig. SexY RexY has been a guitar great in Sydney and the world for eons <3 It was great to hear about your SG background Rex Goh. The direct link to make it easy for people if interested is here:


(Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director).

chakap chakap said...

Born Stephen John Fry
24 August 1957 (age 59)
Hampstead, London, England
Nationality British
Education The College of West Anglia
Alma mater Queens' College, Cambridge
Occupation Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director
Years active 1981–present

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

My goodness, the celebrities who are visiting my blog. Russell Hitchcock from AIR SUPPLY and Stephen Fry, actor and comedian.

All thanks to John Cher's connection to REX GOH (AIR SUPPLY GUITARIST).

Thanks John and all the rest.


Dear Andy, thank you so very much for all your kind words about me. They are much more than I deserve. Your blog has just entered into its 9th Year. What a remarkable achievement, made more so by the fact that you run the blog entirely on your own with no assistance, professional or otherwise. I am of the view that no one knew you will go the distance when you first started. Congrats again Andy and everyone is cheering you on for another 9 years, at least!

Your birthday is only a couple of days away, so I would like to have the privilege to be the first to wish you a wonderful day and a great Year ahead! May God bless you on your special day, and always!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY brother Andy!

Cheers !!!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks John. Extremely touched by your gentle words.

Appreciate the birthday wishes.

Will gladly pass this blog on to you when the time comes, if you are keen to take over.

Not many friends like you.

God Bless.


Agree with all being said - The paradox is most of the top class musicians and singers I have met through the years are humble and the half-baked ones are those that are proud. Haha cheerio


All I can say is as far as I know Rex has set the standard and pace - I do not know of anyone from Singapore who has bettered or equalled Rex in music accomplishment and excellence. Cheerio


When I visited Rex in Sydney earlier this year he so graciously let me stay with him. He was my neighbour in SG and that’s where our musical connection came about. He then went on to bigger and greater things and despite all the shredders in Australia, he is still the MOST sought after guitarist in this country.

In a quiet moment together he told me he had played in over 15 number 1 hits internationally (not only Australia). He has nothing to prove. He is without a doubt the most successful, recognised and respected musician Singapore has ever produced.


Benny was the teacher of Rex Goh. You have my respect Benny, the man with a thousand chords.