Sunday, October 21, 2018

International Stars @ National Theatre: Stephen Han

The National Theatre Singapore 60s had many international stars on stage.

Mr Stephen Han (right) was a pop sixties enthusiast way back when. He is still one today and a regular concert goer for many of the pop 60's shows so currently in demand amongst the seniors.

When I asked Stephen if he could write an article again for this blog he agreed. He writes well, has such a good memory, that remembering names and occasions have always been easy. This piece is the second by Mr Han. he has written one about meeting Rita Moreno at the Cathay Cinema.*

Again thanks, Stephen.

Singers, Bands, Local And Abroad:

The National Theatre had been demolished many years ago but the memories of the many concerts and shows still linger in my mind.

The first concert I attended in the early 60s was performed by Brenda Lee a.k.a. Miss Dynamite. Her voice was so sweet on numbers like 'Walk Away' and 'Johnny One Time' and so powerful on 'Dum Dum'. Petite and pretty Miss Lee was a great attraction with the crowd.
Brenda Lee: 'Dum Dum'. Video from Heath Wilson. Thank you. Great sound.

I can also vividly recall that other American recording stars like Eartha Kitt, Nancy Wilson and my idols, Pat Boone and Johnny Mathis had also performed at this theatre. Popular big bands like Xavier Cugat, Edmundo Ros, Perez Prado and the German band James Last drew large crowds. 

During the British Invasion when the hits of the Beatles and other bands were popular, lots of groups from the United Kingdom came over to showcase their talent. I had the pleasure of watching The Bee Gees featuring the late Robin Gibbs as lead singer. Others who came included The Hollies, Dave Clark 5, Herman's Hermits, Freddie and The Dreamers.

There was a Taekwondo (TKD) variety show that featured the physical might of Rhee Khee Har. His wife was a local singer, very p
opular those years, called June Mok. Do you still remember that name?
It was an unforgettable sight watching Mr Rhee, a powerful man, displaying his kata (form) and quick-as-lightning TKD kicks. Bricks and planks were smashed to smithereens when he used his weapons, his hands. This Korean martial art was popular during the 60's. Even the Filipino group D'Starlites displayed their ability before each music performance.

Many of our Singapore concerts like these ones discussed were organised by pioneer show promoter, Johnnie Young. (Johnnie was a good friend of Stephen Han as the picture below shows; extreme right: Johnnie Young, with sweater: Stephen Han.) 
One of Johnnie's notable shows was the Sanyo Spectacular in 1969. It featured the well-known dancing duo, Sunny and Betty Low. They were a brother and sister team and wowed the audiences in the 60's with their rock n roll and famous Cha Cha Cha and Mambo steps and costumes.

Crowd favourites included Sakura and Rita Chao who sang with the backing of The Stylers, a band so famous that they were the accompanying guitar guys for many top singers and recording artistes for both the Chinese and English crowds.

As I write this article the sound of 60's music can be heard ringing in my ears.
John Calvert @ The National Theatre:

"I still recall my younger days at the National Theatre in the John Calvert Magical-Rama Show - Top Gunter."

"I saw John Calvert Magic Show at the Sky Theatre. He was assisted by the pretty Pixie Monteiro.

"He was good in hypnosis. During his show, he would invite about ten people and sat them on chairs and hypnotized them and made them perform funny acts to make his audiences laugh. I remembered he drove a car blindfolded through the streets of Singapore - Stephen Han."

Disclaimer:
Dates and venues may not be accurate as many postings on this blog have been written from memory. 

Written by Stephen Han.
Images: Stephen Han (Copyrighted). 
YouTube video: Heath Wilson (2013).

34 comments:

PAUL IBRAHM (VOCALIST IN 60's POP BANDS) said...

Saw Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin playing with Yardbirds, same show with Walker Brothers, the local band was The Quests.

Not many knew it was Jimmy Page who later formed superband Led Zeppelin.

He was playing lead guitar. Already he was years ahead. Will never forget that concert.

DANNY BOY (THE BEST DRUMMER FOR 'THE SILVER STRINGS') said...

Those were the days to remember.
Long gone but not forgotten.

LARRY LAI (REDIFFUSION MC, PRODUCER AND PRESENTER) said...

I think Mike Ellery emceed most of those. Stephen Han was a close friend of Sunny's.
I met Stephen a few times.

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy I was a part time stage hand at the National Theatre in 1971 and 1972. There I met many artists back stage and learnt a lot from them. However, I never bothered with autographs etc. Cheerio those were the years.

MERLIN LIM (RHYTHMIST SILVER STRINGS) said...

Hi Andy,
I don't remember all those foreign stars that performed at the National Theatre. Some local performers like Sunny and Betty Low Dancers do exist in my memory.

Promoter Johnnie Young, the name, that I also remember but have no idea what he looks then and now.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The above readers who commented have all appeared on the National Theatre stage, either to help or to perform.
Larry Lai, of course, is so well-known, everyone cheers before he even starts to make his announcements.

Paul Ibrahm was with me with the Velvetones when I first started out 'singing with them.

Michael Lee is big with guitar technicalities; knows every part of it, an expert...

Danny Boy and Merlin Lim were part of the Silver Strings.

Thank you, guys.

FRED CHING (FACEBOOK POST) said...

Hey Brother Andy, good to see this lovely post courtesy of our dear friend Stephen Han. I have some collections of the featured artists mentioned and listening always sends me to nicer times. Blast from the past - those were the years.😊🙏🏻

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Fred for all your comments to help boost the blog. Always appreciate your attendance at pop concerts. Perhaps one day you could do one for me, where you accumulate your artistes into one big story?

FRED CHING (FACEBOOK POST) said...

😊 You are welcome 🙏🏻 Have a blessed day and thanks for the lovely comments Brother Andy❤️💕

HIROSHI DEGUCHI (JAPAN) said...

Stephen Han really makes me feel as if I were sitting and waiting for every show start in the theater, thrilled

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

I was so lucky to have performed in this great venue.. First appearance playing guitar for Susan Lim and the Crescendos. Then later with the Motif and then the Straydogs

STEPHEN HAN said...

I think I watched Susan and the Crescendos but I missed noticing you

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

back ground Stephen, and I was nervous as hell, Israel on bass, Peter a Soh on drums same lineup for her last EP before she passed on.. Great experience for me

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

Herman Hermits show we were the support band

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

the one I was on had lemon tree, walk on by and two more songs, was an EP. But I believe WEA did a CD and featured the songs I mentioned I liked Susan, she was special

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Jimmy and Stephen. Thanks for the chit-chat. Enjoyed the repartee. Glad you both went back in time. :-)

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

flashes of distant memories appear from time to time... So many things happen during our growing up days

TOP GUNTER said...

I still recall my younger days at National Theatre in the John Calvert Magicalrama Show..

FACEBOOK said...

Thanks to all below. You LIKE this post

Fred Ching
Hiroshi Deguchi
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Koh Sui Pang
Yip Dick
Top Gunter
Rose Khoo
Nyonya Jenny Yeo
Denyse Tessensohn
Althea Lim
Tan Ser Kiong

STEPHEN HAN said...

I saw John Calvert Magic Show at the Sky Theatre.He was assisted by the pretty Pixie Monteiro.

FL said...

I attended the most 2 pop concerts at the former National Theatre during the late 60s with my classmates. Featuring only local bands and artists, but for foreign bands and singers, the tickets are much expensive!
I wish they only demolish the actual stage and seating gallery, and retain the original the 5 pointed structures and the beautiful fountain for historical reasons. Too late !

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to FL for the memories.
You are right FL. The original facade (5 pointed structures) is an architectural delight and design. The fountain too.
These aspects of the theatre should have been retained and they would be still admired today.

Thanks to TOP GUNTER for the memory about John Calvert.
This magician was a household name.

Appreciate all who LIKE this post and my thanks to STEPHEN HAN.

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

Michael, I collected autographs from many. Still, have some, rest are missing.. Some became good friends, like the Yardbirds

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Jimmy no reason - my passion was in music, sound engineering etc. Cheerio

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) said...

My passion in music encompasses as much of everything related to music as I can get to experience. I like to turn musical dreams to reality - have no interest in illusive and impossible dreams. Cheerio

STEPHEN HAN said...

I was crazy with Brenda Lee in the 60s, was privileged to watch her show.I can still remember vividly her rendition of “Walk Away” in a duet with the drummer.

Her address was found on the s Silver Screen magazine and I managed to have a tiny 2 by 4 in.b/w photo. Later discovered her address in a CD and wrote to her.I was delighted to receive an 8 by 10 autographed picture of Brenda.

JIMMY APPUDURAI CHUA (ENGLAND, UK) said...

did not know you are a sound man mate, well done

FACEBOOK said...

TOMMY GOMES
JIMMY BOEY
MUSTAFA AL-JOHARY
MICHAEL FONSECA

Thanks, guys for LIKING post.

HORACE WEE (PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN) said...

I was at Susan's last birthday party before her fateful disappearance. I remember her asking me to show up at her party. She was something special.

HORACE WEE (PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN) said...

Re John Calvert. He used to have lovely ladies in his shows. One of them was iconic Filipino singer Perlita Corrales who was only 18 then and absolutely gorgeous. I have a photo of her somewhere. I made a point of mentioning to Perlita when I was backing her show in the 70s and last met her in the 80s at a Filipino function. Of course she remembers.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Horace, thanks so much for the two comments. Appreciate. You have a way with the ladies huh.

John Weisser said...

Pixie Monteiro who appeared with John Calvert and many other entertainers now lives in Pahrump, Nevada.
She is currently 71 years old, still beautiful, had 4 children and now has 3 great grand children.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Mr. John Weisser,

Thank you for your reply, an informative piece that we wouldn't have known about without your response to this article.

Appreciate you reading this post and hope you will spread the word around about the blog.

If you know her personally, please send MS PIXIE MONTEIRO our regards. Some of us do remember her for her performances in Singapore, especially MR STEPHEN HAN who wrote about her stage presence that evening.
Thanks, Stephen.

STEPHEN HAN said...

It’s great to know Pixie is alive and am glad she is a grandma.She’s pretty in her teens and I’m happy to know she’s still beautiful