Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Winston Koh with The Flying Phantoms

Winston Koh, traveller and singer extraordinaire with *beautiful Stephanie Kramer who was Sergeant Dee Dee McCall on NBC Series 'Hunter' - 1984 to 1991. Today is 1.8.18.
What beautiful numbers for Winston: A rare gem, or a hidden precious stone. That's what this gentleman is about. When I met Winston Koh with The Trailers, they were only brief encounters i.e. during our show at Vivo City with the Silver Strings (2008); then the Cathay Cinema gig where I appeared with The Esquires (2015) and finally the quiet appearance at the Siglap Hill Catholic Church - OLPS - with John Cher and Friends (2017). We finally said hello and Winston invited me for lunch at the Cricket Club discussing the history of The Flying Phantoms.

Thank you, Winston, for flying together and agreeing to write this article.

THE FLYING PHANTOMS (1962)
by Winston Koh The Flying Phantoms were formed in 1962 but I joined the group in 1963 when two of the members had already left to join The Mysterians. They were brothers William (Rhythm) and Dennis Chan (Lead).

With just the three of us, we started practising most of the Cliff Richard and The Shadows songs. We could sing and play many other melodies from other groups and pop vocalists too.


Eventually, we had Sam Toh and Hudson Ng joining the group and moving forward we started to play gigs at the British Camps in Singapore from 1964 to 1968. We were also popular at house parties, Tea dances, a nightclub called The Flamingo at Great World and at GH Cafe at Battery Road.

As we came to be more established and appeared on many television shows a gentleman noticed us on television. He was one Mr Smudge Smith who contacted us and wanted to manage the group. We agreed and Mr Smith became our manager. At the same time, another connection, a Mr Montero also continued to provide us with many places to perform at.

Sam Toh left the group to join The Quests and we got in a bass player by the name of Richard, where we competed for the Cliff Richard and The Shadows Finder's Keepers contest. They found a winner but I’m the keeper! Richard left us after the contest and we got in Jimmy Ng from Super XX as our bass player.

Then Dennis Chan, the lead guitarist, left for National Service and we got a Henry Tham to play the lead. Meanwhile, we were looking for another lead guitar player and we managed to find Johnny Yeow. At this point, the group had a contract to perform in Hong Kong and we renamed ourselves, The Phantoms and continued to do many gigs and functions as usual.
We left for Hong Kong in July 1969 to open up the New World of Susie Wong at Hankow Road, Kowloon. We were there for six months. Hong Kong was a music world of its own. Truly memories and melodies. We appeared in Young Beat Live Show at the Hong Kong City Hall in the following month of August and another big show called, Music Markers with top local bands and singers at Happy Valley Turf Club on 14 November 1969 with Live TV Telecast. We did well and had created a good image for Singapore's pop bands.

The Phantoms also did an official opening for a new record shop called City Music and also played during Sunday Tea Dances at The Teddy Robin Tavern and Go Down during our short stint in Hong Kong. 
We were so popular at this venue that we were offered a six months extension but turned it down because our manager had already signed a new contract with Hotel Malaysia at home. The group returned to Singapore at the end of December 1969 and had a six months contract with Marco Polo Theatre Restaurant Night Club at Clemenceau Avenue. We played from January 1970 at this nightclub, managed by Hotel Malaysia. After three months we moved to play at The Supper Club and The Pub.
After the contract ended The Phantoms only got together for gigs; Johnny and I joined the workforce and Jimmy Ng went back to his family insurance business. As for Hudson and Henry, they continued full time in music and made it their career. The Phantoms Johnny, Jimmy and I still stayed together and got two players to join the band until 1980.
The Flying Phantoms returned with original members Dennis and William Chan, Jimmy and I. We managed to recruit Arshad Hamid as our drummer. This time around we did many concerts and appearances for charity where we were paid by organizations. The fees that we acquired, we donated to the Children's Home. Besides performing with the band I also performed solo for charity at all the Public Hospitals, for Seniors and Nursing Homes. In the year 2000, I teamed up with Victor Woo, the original lead guitarist of The Trailers, where we managed a few changes with the rhythm, bass and drummer. We held many shows and performances for the Esplanade, National Heritage Board, Social and Community Clubs, the National Art Council and Corporate Organizations.

Today, I am still with The Trailers with new members and we continue to do show, functions and charity concerts.
Winston Koh at the 2008 concert at VivoCity where he appeared with The Trailers. Winston took time and trouble to write this article which was right in the middle of his busy house-moving schedule. So guys, if you know Winston, write a note to him and say hello. *Stephanie Kramer, actress, writer, singer/songwriter, was dubbed one of the most beautiful women on TV in 1988. Images/Article: 
Winston Koh Copyrights Reserved. Record cover through courtesy of Dr Steven Farram (Darwin University, Australia.)

Winston Koh (right) with Millie Small ('My Boy Lollipop' hit); at his peak, this gentleman singer's seen them all. The gentleman with the sunglasses is well-known MediaCorp actor Zhang Wei when he was a compere for Sharp Night on Channel 8. Zhang Wei is still acting on Channel 8 now.
In Hong Kong through our media promoter Mr Terry Geary a friend of ours, then the Manager Mr Michael Brown, we met with Mr Paul Leung, a composer and keyboardist who wanted The Phantoms to record his first English composition, Love, Love, Love and asked us to choose a song for the B side.

Within a short period Mr Leung booked a studio for recording on 26 September 1969.  We recorded live with him on keyboard for Love, Love, Love, since he was also a producer and owner of the AMO label.

This time around, Winston is with more famous stars 😄 from the haunt at Siglap Hill, not with Zhang Wei, Dee Dee McCall or Millie Small but in a 2017 gig below @ at the OLPS Singapore: From left: John Cher, Winston Koh, Andy (passer-by), Rickie Chng, Ted Ha, Behind seated: Shankar Paul, Standing: Michael Bangar.


15 comments:

johnny yeow said...

good write up bro

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Winston Thank you for allowing me to share on the blog, FB, TWITTER and GOOGLE+ your marvelous musical journey, when you flew with THE FLYING PHANTOMS.

JOHN CHER said...

Winston looks pretty much the same after all these years. Congrats Winston!

Merely stating a fact. Your easy and no-frills life style is one reason for your youthful look. All the best Winston! Cheers!

STEPHEN HAN said...

A proficient story teller of his time with the Flying Phantoms.I had seen Winston with the Trailers singing some Cliff Richard’s numbers and like them.

PETER CHAN said...

Winston Koh gave the name MONTEIRO. He was the owner of Foorman Music School in Clemenceau Avenue. He was a music agent. I know Monteiro. Foorman was the organizer of the FLOWER DRUM SONG you blogged me some years ago.

DR STEVEN FARRAM (DARWIN UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA) said...

And thanks to you and Winstoh Koh for the piece about the Flying Phantoms. It is very informative, but I found it curious that he did not mention the record they put out when they were in Hong Kong. I attach the cover here. I don’t know if you want to ask him about it, but I would be fascinated to hear his story. I did write about it many years ago for the garagehangover site.

Regards

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi everyone,
Thanks all for your comments.

I shall check with Winston Koh regarding Monteiro and the vinyl recorded in Hong Kong, which I read about in Steve Farram's column, GARAGE HANGOVER.

Do write in when you can.

FACEBOOK said...

FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS of WINSTON KOH and JOHN CHER:

LIKES from:
John Cher
Fred Ching
Hiroshi Deguchi
Jennie Law
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Rose Khoo
Monica Pestana
Carol Walker
Tony Ng
Raymond Cho
Jowina Tee
Doreen Lim
David Lim
Glam Wen
William Gay

JACOB LOH FB said...

I remember him...Cliff Richard of Singapore. Right John Cher?

JOHN CHER FB said...

Hi Andy,

Henry Chua, for some reason, did not appear on the photo you used on your blog. He played lead guitar during Winston's charity gig at OLPS. Besides backing Winston on his Cliff's numbers, Henry also did some great instrumentals to the delight of those who were lucky enough to be present.

Thank you very kindly Henry Chua and Winston Koh.

KOH SUI PANG FB said...

Nice picture ...hello all !!!!

HENRI GANN (TREKKERS LEAD GUITARIST) said...

Keep up the interesting stories on your blog. I have to credit your blog which has generated an interest (over 10,000 viewers as of last month ) on the Trekkers YouTube. Not too bad considering that it was of music played over 50 years ago and especially when little was known of the Trekkers. Keep your blog rockin’ Andy 🎼🎸

Anyway I am still excited whenever I hear music of the Shadows and the Ventures today and especially when it is played by new groups using creative beats and sound effects. I hope I can write a story on these groups for your blog someday.

Sent from my iPhone
(Taken from Henri Gann's personal mail.)

WINSTON KOH (SINGER: FLYING PHANTOMS said...

Through our media promoter Mr Terry Gerry a friend of ours, then the Manager Mr Michael Brown, we met with Mr Paul Leung, a composer and keyboardist who wanted THE PHANTOMS to record his first English composition, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and asked us to choose a song for the B side.

Within a short period Mr Leung booked a studio for recording on 26 September 1969.
We recorded live with him on keyboard for LOVE, LOVE, LOVE since he was also a producer and owner of the AMO label.

Henri Gann said...

Good story Winston ! Thank you

CHARLIE YAP (LEADER/BASSIST: LOCOMOTION DANCE BAND) said...

I was a bassist sessionist for Winston Koh in many events in the 1970's.

And yes! Winston Koh is definitely one of the greatest vocalists I have ever come across. He's the only one with a voice like CLIFF RICHARD's.

Keep on singing Winston.
Cheers.