Sunday, May 07, 2017

Horace Wee: Victoria Memorial Hall Memories n 6C's

Here's another piece of nostalgic wealth from Horace Wee, RTS/SBC guitarist, saxophonist and music guru, who had performed on many stages in Singapore. 

Inspired by an article I wrote, about a 60's Easter Ball at the Victoria Memorial Hall, he reflects about the 6 C's: Countdowns, Clock Tower, Clubs, Cordials, Cigarettes and Camaraderie. Sounds frivolous? No it isn't:

"The Victoria Memorial Hall holds many memories for me as well, having played at many functions there. The prominent promoter in the late fifties till early sixties was Kingsley Morando.* 

In fact during the British era, the New Year's Eve dance was held there and the clock tower was the center of the countdown for the new year. The atmosphere created a miniature of the countdown in London with Big Ben.

A British cigarette brand called Craven A with a black cat logo even had a special anti-cough cigarette. Another big sponsor was F&N with a crowd favourite of their fizzy orange drink in tall round bottles.
I'm still of the opinion that the surroundings around the Victoria Hall including the Cricket Club, Singapore Recreation Club and the Padang with the clock tower as the centre piece is still the ideal venue for a New Year's Eve party and countdown. It evokes the simplicity and nostalgia of the past and welcomes the modernity of the present.

Certainly an event that will give the present generation a glimpse and link to the earlier years of Singapore. It certainly would be a memorable annual event with more emotional depth, rather than the "rah rah rah, are you having a good time," being inundated with just too many flashing lights and other modern stage technics.
Incidentally, why has Singapore forgotten about Auld Lang Syne*, a very traditional way of singing good bye to the old year. This universally accepted and used tune is a wonderful segue to the countdown towards the new year. It embodies the camaraderie of people around you and at times with arms interlocked, a hope for better things to come.

Today's cold countdown of Happy New Year feels as flat as a pancake and devoid of all emotion.

Andy, you certainly triggered another thought wave."

Thank you Horace. You are an inspiration to both young and senior Singaporeans. Andy.

*Auld Lang Syne:

*Kingsley Morando was known as Mr. Talentime i.e. the Singapore 60's version of today's 
American Idol or copycat, Singapore Idol. With much entrepreneurship and sharp wits, he created an awareness of the potential in the music pop industry then. 

The information on Kingsley Morando, who initiated the Talentime contest. Certainly American Idol is not an original idea at all. Maybe Simon Cowell had British relatives stationed in Singapore those days and heard of this during ties he heard of them reminiscing. 😉

The picture of Kingsley Morando voicing his program with the technician at the record turntables is exactly when the term Disc Jockey was coined. Eventually the program announcer self operated the turntables. Perhaps to save manpower costs as well as ore flexibility in programming. 

In those years, the Radio Singapore call sign was D D B G played on a Hawaiian guitar. These are the four opening of Terang Bulan, a folk song with Indonesian/ Malay origins that became the Malaysian National Anthem.

Article: Horace Wee: Copyrights Reserved.
Images: Mun Chor Seng and Google.


Henri Gann said...

Nostalgic times ! Horace Wee definitely touched the nerves of those days. Great write !!!


I remembered Kingsley Mirando and the talentime contest he organized at VMH. This was also the venue for local concert featuring The Quest and others. The hall also hosted the PAP meeting.


I remember VMH for its poppies at an annual charity fair. My aunt and uncle would buy a poppy flower for me. The money goes to charity. I think I was four years old then.


Great piece from Horace. Hopefully this year's countdown would be held there.


I remember other cigarettes like Players,Diamond, 555 Capstan etc.There were soft drinks like Kikapoo Joy Juice ,the Eastern Bootling Co in Geylang and the delicious Sarsi and not forgetting Green Spot and Sinalco.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Now SIMON COWELL is in the picture. Has AMERICAN IDOL and BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT been inspired by TALENTIME ideals? :-)

Thank you all for the early comments. Hopefully others will tell their Ole Vic stories.


VMH is such a beautiful building and the facade is majestic. Silver Strings did perform at that venue but I don't remember for which show.

As for that classic countdown, Auld Lang Syne, we would begin with, "I Understand". Not sure if that's the song title and then intertwine with Auld Lang Syne.

Oh, not forgetting to get everyone one to join in with that classic. It's such a blast and rush.


According to Brian Richmond the word 'talentime' was coined by Kingsley Morando.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes he did Stephen, in the 50's. But the reply was usually, "I got talent but no time." :-)

Thank you all for the comments and replies for this posting.

We still remember the old Vic. It's a new Vic now.


Chen David
Philip Chew
Zul Sutan
Joseph Goh
Joycelyn Leong
James Seah
David Lim
Jalani Mohamed
Lange Brunei


Thks for the memories Andy! We'll (the Knights of Columbus) be hosting the "Roaring '60s & '70s" D & D (Fund Raising) on June 3rd, & I'm chairing the Working Committee!! The Theme is "'60s & '70s Rock & Roll"!!

matt tan guitar "magician" LOL said...

Horace , my dear old boss and Brimstone recording engineer buddy exchange,
Sir Stamford Raffles is he still standing there??
I saw a mandarin movie just the other day, and it was shot in Singapore. I was amazing to see how tiny those building that were tall during my day were. I couldn't even see them from the waterfront without a magnifying glass LOL.
It has been a long time , hasn't it Horace Wee? I still remember how we worked together at your Brimstone Records, with Jim M... with Amir on Drums, me on bass and you on guitar. But life goes on, I hope you too will find a reason to pick up the guitar again, like I did last month. Hey, look, I already recorded 70 tunes in one month, after not playing the guitar for 20 years. Batteries fully recharged. You too must do the same. See you on youtube too soon , huh!!!

Horace Wee said...

Hello Matt, your memories are crystal clear. Yes there were some pleasant moments then. Thanks for remembering. Off course the world as we saw than has changed so much. Especially here, where I get a feeling of robots moving around.
I have not forsaken music and it's the very thing that keeps me sane. Hope you read the email I sent updating some events in my life.
Stay in touch. And yeah man keep playing.