Thursday, March 01, 2018

Rolling Stones Celebrate Chap Goh Meh In Singapore

Audie Ng

Nearly 2,200 readers to date.

A Chap Goh Meh Posting 2018

A Chap Goh Meh Treat 16 February 1965

This story has been told many times but not from the man himself because he was there on stage with his own group and facing a crowd that was so huge you think it was a free show. Big money to pay for a performance which cost as much as $8 per head. It was the 60's.

I must thank Audie Ng, leader and bass guitarist of the Silver Strings for penning his experience when he appeared with one of the most exciting bands in the world.

An illustration of The Rolling Stones on stage which mostly result in healthy chaos and noise.

In 1965, The Silver Strings was invited to be the introductory band for the hugely successful and well-publicised Rolling Stones performance at the Singapore Badminton Hall on February 16. 

It was Chap Goh Meh and you can imagine the crowd, noise and fanfare the whole show created. It was chaos night with fire-crackers on the streets outside at Guillemard Road and twanging guitars with screaming Mick Jagger at the microphone and his troupe on stage.

The Badminton Hall during its hey-day when it was used daily for a different purpose.

The Straits Times headlines the next day read, Stones Lose To Firecrackers. Pandemonium At Badminton Hall As British Pop Group Clashes With Chap Goh Meh.

The show was held sometime after Veronica Young won the Millie Small Competition at the Sky Theatre at the Great World Amusement Park, Kim Seng Road. Accompanied by The Strings, she achieved instant stardom and all were invited to play with the Stones after that.
The second line up of the Silver Strings during the Stones concert at the Stadium. 

Kingsley Morando was the show manager and assisted by Wilson David (Singapore's Elvis Presley impersonator in the 1960's) the Rolling Stones were contracted to perform in Singapore by Singstar's Freddy Eu (Eu Tong Sen Street was named after this family.)

The Silver Strings line-up included Audie Ng (bass), David Chan (lead), Merlin Lim (rhythm), Danny Boy (drums) and Veronica (vocals). Apparently, the instruments used that evening were supplied by the event company and amplifiers belonged to The Dukes but this information was unconfirmed.
A Rolling Stones $2.00 ticket stub from the website The Lion Raw.
Audie remembers that the show opened with Veronica Young singing her signature hit, My Boy Lollipop followed by Stupid Cupid, These Boots Are Made For Walking, Where The Boys Are and See You Later Alligator. These songs were at the top of the 50's and 60's hit parade and brought the capacity crowd to pitch rock and roll fever. It was just the ignition key as to what was to follow.

Veronica Young
The Rolling Stones rolled into the Stadium late because of the traffic jam and the tremendously energetic Chap Goh Meh (literal: 15th night) crowd on the streets. 

It was the last night of Chinese New Year and the community was celebrating it with vigour and the unbelievably loud explosions of firecrackers. The whole of Guillemard Road, from Geylang Road and the Kallang area, was overflowing with merry-makers. Since the Badminton Stadium was easy to access from most parts of Singapore - they converged there - you can imagine the pandemonium it caused.

"I doubt this phenomenon can ever be repeated in Singapore!" remarked Audie when I interviewed him for this story.
For illustration only: The Rolling Stones - during their early days when young, raw and hot.

Well I told you once and I told you twice
But ya never listen to my advice
You don't try very hard to please me
With what you know it should be easy...

From the opening lines of The Last Time, the show erupted like dynamite, this time from the top English band of the century. 19th Nervous Breakdown, Honky Tonk Women, followed and the crowd went wild. Even the ballad, As Tears Go By had no had no calming effect on the crowd. They were swooning and singing every line as if they were the composers of the songs.

Nobody really sat on the wooden chairs that night. From the jumping and screaming British servicemen and their families to the sensible Singaporean fan, there was no time to relax. Some of the younger Caucasian girls sobbed on bended knees and broke down hysterically. Even our local teenagers were screaming throughout the concert, enjoying live rock music that was a rarity those years.
Rolling Stones Singapore Concert 1965 promo acetate. Video from Parlogram YouTube.

When Satisfaction came on the sound system to announce it was the grand finale; the crowd wanted more. The packed stadium was like a burning furnace in Singapore's weather. The only factor that saved the evening was the breeze that came in through the huge window-like openings above the hall; natural ventilators they were since the twirling fans bedecking the high ceiling didn't help much. 
The Straits Times report about the show that evening attracted many newspaper readers.

An incident mentioned was the gatecrashers who tried to come in and a gate collapsed as the police (or mata-mata) were called in to help with the milieu that resulted. I understand the Black Marias and Ang Chia (Red Vehicles) were outside the stadium too. These were huge vans that would transport rioters and put them in lock-ups.

Now those were the days of rock and roll in Singapore in 1965 when our tiny island left Malaya to become an independent city-state and boys were still roaming the streets with long hair. What a way to go.
The more expensive $8.00 ticket with row and seat number. It was a lot of money those years.

The performance described was only part of the whole story. Many people saw this show and it was an unforgettable double happiness, Chap Goh Meh evening and the Stones presence.

Audie Ng Today
Did you attend this particular concert and do you have something to say? We need some more information. Do write on the comment page. This concert was also the first time the Stones performed in Singapore. They came a few more times afterwards. 

Any comment?

Thanks to Dr Steve Farram (Darwin U.) for the inspiration, after enticing me with the video and ticket as bait, to write this article.😉

Article: All Rights Reserved.
Images: The Straits Times and Google.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks to you and Audie for a great story.

Best wishes


ROSE KHOO FB said...

I also performed there during my primary school days...Chinese butterfly dance!


Re: live this jiving rock n roll...


Wow! Very interesting story. Thank you, Andy & ... Audie, young & very handsome. Me? Still schooling no money to see the show. Cheers 😊🎶🎸🥁👍


I was in the audience.


Veronica was so Young and lovely looking.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi guys,

Thank you all for the quick response. Appreciate. :-)
And thanks to ROSE for sharing on Facebook.


I recalled that the door to the concert hall collapsed. It could be due to the rushing, huge and wild crowd... and who knows, there could have been those people without tickets trying to get a free show.


Your blog educates the young what the music scene was like during our era in the 60's.

We had fans waving banners and shouting, screaming just like during the Rolling Stones concert. Nowadays, no way. Only the teenagers in Korea who adore their Korean stars and celebrities.

Those were the best music years in Singapore.


A good read.


Hi Andy,
1965. Re: The Rolling Stones celebrate Chap Goh Meh. That line up of the Silver Strings. Very lucky. Got to meet the original line-up of the band.

My favourite line-up of The Rolling Stones when they had their late guitarist Brian Jones. Their best hits came from that period.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Eleven people sharing their experiences within 8 hours of the story being posted.
Again thanks to all especially, Merlin, Audie and Michael, part of the Silver Strings family. Merlin and Michael have a common factor. They both play rhythm for the Strings and Merlin played as a guest during our show at the Promontory in 2015. Michael is still our permanent rhythm guitarist and singer today.

Thanks also to Soo Khoon who's always so supportive of the music scene in the 60's


What a blast from the past. Thank you, Audie and Andy, for the very interesting article. I did not attend the Rolling Stones' performance then but the Badminton Hall has a special place in my heart coz that's where I went to on my first date.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Jimmy. Interesting that you went to the Badminton Hall on your first date. If it's a music gig you must tell us about it. Or did you play there with your band the DECIBELS and your friend was waiting for you backstage or in the first row seats?

Tell us.

FL said...

Ya, I heard about the Rolling Stones concert in Singapore then through the tabloid Radio Weekly (30 cents). I was still in secondary school, but I couldn't afford to buy a ticket then! Hahaha ! Anyway,thanks for a recollection of the past, esp as a teenager like many of us.


Veronica was so Young and lovely looking


My Brother & I nearly died during the door stampede that concert night. Will never forget.

The old-time song was still ringing in my head.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Wow, Mr Tan were you at the concert? Would you like to tell your story as to what happened that night? Thanks so much for writing in.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Wow FL, that was quick. Heard the beep and your letter appeared earlier. Thanks for your response. You were still a teen then and must still be very young today.

FL has been supporting this blog very early during its infancy and all through these years.

Thanks very much FL.


I vaguely remember going to the concert with my younger brother we saved the hard earned money to watch the concert. I remember holding onto my bro I felt like I was crushed & unable to breathe the door was brought down we manage to recover & enjoyed the concert. What a memory!


The SB Hall had no numbered seat at the gallery so one had to rush in to choose a better view of the stage. This was one reason for the crush before the opening of the doors...

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks again Ser Kiong and Stephen for relating the incident. You both have much data in a well-stocked memory bank. I appreciate the details. ��

FACEBOOK said...


John Cher
Koh Sui Pang
Rose Khoo
Jennie Law
Ann Rowena Lim
Peter Lim
James Kwok
Roop Singh
Van Der Beek Philip
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Tan Ser Kiong
Hiroshi Deguchi