Monday, July 17, 2017

Singapore 70's Brief Music History (2): Michael Bangar

Today is 17.7.17. 

Here's a special posting from Michael Bangar. I would like to thank him again for writing this series.  He's just as good with his essays as he is on his guitar. Thank you, Mike:

While the music revival was going on in the UK, far far away on this little sunny island we call Singapore; brewing in this huge melting pot was our early 60's, bands. 

Getting active were The Quests, The Silver Strings, The Trailers, The Dukes, The Checkmates, The Thunderbirds, Mike and The Mysterians, Sunny Bala and The Moonglows (of which I was in the lineup in Sunny B's last phase of the band, before his passing.) In actuality, there were many other active bands to name.

Along with these bands came other artistes too. The Van Dort brothers Mike and Herb, The Choy Brothers James and Siva, Keith Locke, Wilson David, Paul (Winston) Cheong, Vernon Cornelius, Winston Walters, Brian Neal, Bobby Lambert, Stevie Lorraine, Sakura Teng, Rita Chao and the list go on.

As a school boy, I used to watch all these stars perform at as many of their shows as I could afford at that age.  It meant saving as much of my school cake money to buy the tickets. Concerts were held at the old National Theatre, Victoria Memorial Hall, the Singapore Badminton Hall and even in some school halls.
"Bobby Lambert and the Dukes, featuring Ahmad Murad Bin Sulaiman, Zainal Abidin Bin Sulaiman, Richard Young and Zainal Abidin Bin Akib. Their first record release included titles like First Bend In The River, Rave On, False Alarm and Day Dream, the last two being instrumentals."

For me, these concerts had much influence on my life as a musician. I used to go to watch these shows with eager anticipation and excitement all inside me. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Then in the late 60's and early 70's, mainly in the UK, there emerged a Blues boom that evolved into Rock (heavy metal music as some would call it). The Jimi Hendrix Experience and a bit later, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple surfaced on the scene.
Over in Singapore the same genre bands took roots: Fried Ice (with Ray Anthony - Singapore's answer to Jimi Hendrix), The Straydogs (with twin axemen L.T. Soon and Jimmy Appadurai), Barb Wire with Chris Vardam, Pest Infested with Alam Shah and Vocalist Ernie Koh and Sweet Charity (who later moved on and pioneered Malay Rock in the Malay Music Market. Black Dog Bone followed). 

The other more renowned bands that need mentioning are The Surfers who later became October Cherries (image below: Richard Khan - drummer), The Western Union Band and The X'periment with Joe Chandran (now known as Joseph Aron) as lead vocalist. Then there was Singapore's premier rock band with the three Jansen Brothers: Heritage. All the bands mentioned bands leant more towards the pop music of the day.
While all this was going on in the UK, in the US another genre of pop music was being created: Jazz Rock which was the merging of Jazz and Pop Rock when brass instruments were added.

There were groups with unlikely names like Blood Sweat And Tears, which actually started this genre. Then there was Chicago Transit Authority (they later shortened their name to Chicago), followed by Chase (with Bill Chase as the band leader but this band perished in an aeroplane crash.
               October Cherries: World Hits 1972 Video from sholimz

Local bands paralleled the trend with The Flybaits (above), Tony Castillo and the Castillians, The X'quisites, The Breed (of which I was with for a short while) and others, too many to name. All these bands worked in most nightclubs in Singapore and abroad.

Later, other bands like Gingerbread and Tokyo Square reared their musical heads in the 1970's. For a while, there was even a jazz outfit called the AJL Trio consisting of star players like Albert Ventura, Jayram Shotam and Louis Soliano. They later added saxophone man Stephen Rufus to their line-up.
Michael Bangar with Rickie Chng, Laurence Lim and Andy Young @ Raffles City in 2017.

During the same period in the late 70's, another jazz trio got together to form JERAMZEE, consisting of Jeremy Monteiro on the keyboard, Ramli Shariff on bass and Tony Zee (former Trailers) on drums (who later moved on to form Jive Talking with its long residency at The Hard Rock Cafe in Orchard Road. This band is still playing there but most of its original members have left the lineup.

Read Part 1 from here:

The article is Copyrights Reserved (Michael Bangar).

Images: A Private Collection and Google.


Irene Yap said...

Thanks Mike for the nice write up. Reading them brings back refreshing memories of our music scene back than. You have remarkable memories and write well.
And to know you were with Sonny Bala and the moonglows. I was with them at Ion Bar/Apollo Hotel too way back.

henri gann said...

That was an interesting read Mike.
Hey Andy ! I see alot of interesting local food in the picture. How come you never took me to such a place when I was in Singapore :)?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

CUT FRUITS, PULOT HITAM and ORANGE JUICE are interesting? OK, Henri, you come round again this time and I'll buy them for you.

We use your $10 ang-pow to pay. :-)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Irene,

Thanks for the interesting comment. What songs did you sing with Sonny Bala and Moonglows? Did you sing Chinese songs as well?


I know Joe Chandran, Mervin Nonis, Chris Vadham from Western Union Band; the entire GINGERBREAD band was from my class at St. Gabriel's.

Sonny Bala's sister married my grand uncle. Thank god we enjoyed the 60's and 70's. Life took a change after the 80's onwards.

All those that I knew came from Jalan Kayu and Seletar Hills.

Actually years ago I had met Mike Bangar through my friend Evans Barnabas at the Ladyhill Hotel. Evans was a singer and lead guitarist from another band. Most of my friends like them because those days all with talent shared a common ground and we knew how to take a break and unwind.

Now it's just work, work, work...

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Laurence for your information. Very valuable indeed. I have put up our picture when we were with Mike and Rickie Chng at Raffles City for dinner.

Appreciate your sharing with us your stories.


I sent Mike's article to this Singapore friend in Surabaya. He knows many of the musicians.

Andy, he wants to meet you and Mike and others when he is in Singapore and doing well in Indonesia.

He likes your articles.

ROSE KHOO said...

Andy nice meeting you yesterday at the Esplanade show! Enjoyed reading your blog n all the interesting articles... keep up yr good work😊

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you, Rose, very much.

Appreciate your comment. Yes, it was great to have met you too. Pity Louis Soliano was already in the concert hall, otherwise, I would've introduced him to you and your friend.



Thank you, Michael and Andy, for bringing back fond memories of the local bands.


Interesting story and a good read. Thank you.



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