Friday, October 12, 2018

Performing For Singapore Presidents, Prime Ministers, Malaysian Royalties: By Michael Bangar

Again, with much pleasure, this article is another of many stories that Michael Bangar has contributed. I must thank him for his generosity and the friendship we have developed throughout the years. It is, without doubt, he and his band members are the most versatile music makers in Singapore.
Thank you Mike.
The Wild Wild West With DJ Brian Richmond and the Band. Their Colt 45's have been retained by security at the door 😉

"Very seldom do I blow my own trumpet. I hope you all don't mind. Another Music Topic. But I just need to talk about This Group Of Guys that I had Great Pleasure Of Playing Music With. The Band with multiple names: Katz Konnection (Jerry's), Country Gentlemen (Donald's), Mixed Combination (Jeffery's), Transit (Ivor's) & The NewNotes ( mine).

Lead Guitarist: the late Donald Thaver( Ivor Lesslar took his place later ). From time to time we also played with Peter Gonzales & Roland Shepherdson too ( Good Guitar Players as well ). Bass Guitarist Jeffery Pinto ( we played with Stephen De Souza too. Good Bassist ). Drummer Ramon Francis ( we also played with Drummers Chris Miles, Stephen Gomez (also a guitarist), Patrick Fernando - Very Good Drummers too). And last but not least, the multiple -  instrumentalist Jerry Murad: Sax / Flute. They all did lead vocal duties and vocal harmony too. The Band did strictly gigs when we first got together in January 1987 -  to date.

A short while later, we did a gig for Mr Conrad Rappa ( a veteran music man from the 40's & 50's who had the title Spore's Jim Reeves bestowed upon him ) and he put Jerry Murad with the 4 of us and we evolved into a 5pce. And the gigs just kept on rolling in.

With Mr Lim Boon Heng and Chief Steward of Shangri-la Hotel and the band.

After a while, we realised how well we got on together musically. All of us had come from so many different bands and unknowingly brought along with us our variety of musical experiences. Effortlessly we went from one musical genre to another. Oldies, Jazz, Country & Western, Rock,  Pop Hits Of The Day & even a few Classical Numbers.

Our repertoire covered the big hits of the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's & beyond. We performed covers of songs by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams to Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Roy Orbison to Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tony Christie, John Rowles etc. We covered the big hits of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, Hermans Hermits, The Byrds, The Eagles &  generally covering as much of The Oldies.

We did a lot of instrumentals by The Shadows, The Ventures, The Jumping Jewels, Big Band Stuff, Bossa Nova & Jazz Instrumentals, etc. Jerry, Ramon and Jeffery could even do different language songs like Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Chinese ( a few Mandarin, Hokkien & Cantonese numbers ) even some Japanese, Thai, French, Italian Hits.  With all the music genres that we covered, we could also play Dondang Sayang, Keroncong and Dangdut.

 We were one of a few bands that got into the function circuit when it was at its peak. So we had to have a wide repertoire to try to please as much of the International audience as we could. We did gigs at almost all the major hotels, country clubs and convention centres.
Professor Jayakumar and the band in bow-ties and black suits.

I must not forget to mention that when the need arose, we could go from solo performances to 2piece, 3, 4, 5 even up to 10pce. band line - up. This is the electric band set up. We even used to take on strolling gigs ( called Mariachi - in the West ). 1, 2, 3, 4 and even 5pce. Strolling lineups, going round the table to table routine, corner to corner even restaurants to restaurants, using acoustic instruments as you all kinds.

Dignitaries we have performed in front of- Presidents - the late Mr Wee Kim Wee, the late Mr S R Nathan, the late Indo President Suharto ( when he & then S'pore PM Mr Goh Chok Tong did The Grand Opening of The Hotel Sedona Resort in Bintan Lagoon ). Dad & son Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew & Lee Hsien Loong ( even his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang & his Mrs.).

Old Guard Ministers : Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Dr. Toh Chin Chye, Mr. E W Barker. Ministers Prof. Jayakumar, Abdullah  Tarmugi ( we played for his 60th. Birthday Party ), Mr. Lim Boon Heng, Mr. Lee Boon Yang, Mr. Yatiman Yusof, Mr Chandra Das, Mr. Ibrahim Othman, Dr Ahmad Mattar, etc. Yeo Ning Hong.

Many years ago, for some Malaysian Royalties too. The then Sultans of Perak, Kedah, Selangor and a Birthday Party of the then Tengku Mahkota Of Johore, currently The Sultan.

With President Tony Tan in 1998 at dinner as Michael Bangar's band strolled the floor.

During that period, we averaged 12 gigs per month from January 1987 onwards. I had a habit of recording details of all my gigs in my diary.

The month of December 1999, heading on into the new millennium we did 22 gigs that month. Sometimes 2 even 3 per day. How good times were during that period."

With Dr Yeo Ning Hong and the late Mr E.W. Barker and the band.

This article and its photographs have been posted in good faith. If there is any objection to their publication, do write in on the Comment Page and, with appropriate reasons, they will be deleted.

Images: Michael Bangar Collection.
Written by Michael Bangar verbatim.


Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

It sounds like a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun.

Best wishes


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