Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Walter Koh: Singapore's Pat Boone: The Passionate Entertainer


He rocks, he rolls and shimmers away as he belts out that Elvis favorite, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.”  If you’re walking towards just that sound, you’d be forgiven to think it’s the voice of a middle-aged man.  Your curiosity will cause you to venture further and you ask someone from the cheering crowd, “Who’s that man and how old is he?”  The answer causes you to remain in pure admiration. Then you finally conclude that you’re in the presence of a legend- 86 year old Walter Koh.  Then when you think he’d tire after belting out that tune, he motions to the musicians to stay with the rhythm and bring on the next song. Now he sees you because you look ravishing in that red dress and as he opens his line, “I just wanna be your Teddy Bear…”, he invites you to join in the dance.

That’s Walter now slowing down after more than 60 years in the entertainment industry. When the world continues to revolve and evolve concerned with fluctuating economies and with their fundamental needs, Walter will just smile through it all and look for the nearest microphone to sing into.

In a short interview that I recently had with him, he shares how it all started for him - as a young boy he would accompany his father and grandfather to their Peranakan singing sessions and loved it so much that in a few years he would join his first band, the Broadway Musical Party, a Peranakan band naturally.

The young Walter then wasted no time and participated in the first RTS (Radio Television Singapore) Talentime and claims he made it all the way to the Finals. In between his stints with other well-known bands then, namely the Marilex and the Sambodians, Walter joined the Singapore Pat Boone contest held in Odeon Katong and walked away with the title and the trophy.
His singing career highlights include his contract to be the lead singer for the 9-piece band, The Sambodians and being annually invited to the Victoria Theatre to sing and ring in the New Year through the national radio broadcast.

In his later years, Walter would be invited to sing at community events as a soloist or with his band, The Hawaiinaires.

In between his singing routines, Walter also lived out his other passion, organizing football tours for fans of the very popular Singapore national team in the 60s, 70s and early 80s.

Singapore supporters always recall fondly their tours with Walter as “never a dull moment” because he would be entertaining them from the start to the end of their bus journey, sometimes even depriving them of their sleep. Yet no one was complaining. Feeling somewhat sad at the current state of the local football, Walter feels that it’s about having the right calibre of players and awaiting once again for another special coach to come by akin to the likes of the legendary Choo Seng Quee.

These days, Walter continues to find every opportunity to sing and feeling much alive and kicking at his age, he is very thankful that he still has the energy and enthusiasm to be able to enjoy his passion for music.
Walter Koh - Living Life with a Passion.

Images and article belong to Brady Koh.
Copyrights Reserved. 

READERS COMMENTS:

Perry Koh:
Thanks, Andy, for the work you do to honor others. Love the layout on your blog. Amazing work at your age.

Daisy Koh:
He comes from a musical family. His grandfather was the founder of the Dondang Sayang group... and was a Musician himself who also wrote pantuns (Malay folk poems) and compose tunes on his violin which is still displayed at the National Museum under the early Peranakans Section. 

Richard Rajoo: 
Andy bro, Me and my two girls and brothers and friends in the Dover area have traveled many times with Walter for the Malaysia Cup in Selangor. Those were the good old days. Unfortunately, the old block where he used to live at Holland Drive and Bouna Vista area has long been demolished but memories linger on. Bless him.

Steve Ho (The Heartbreakers lead singer): 
Good day Andy, I met Mr Walter Koh in a pub a few years back. He is ever ready to sing and always the consummate showman. He is still rocking it up at the age of 86. Wow! Now through your article, I know much more about him. Thank you, sir.

Nora Tann: 
Andy, have you met Walter's son Patrick Koh who is a renowned crooner? Next time Pat is in town, you should go listen to him sing.

Andy:
I have ma'am. Thanks again. He's known as PAT 'KING' KOH in Hawaii similar to NAT 'KING' COLE. It's on the blog's comment page and provided by HAPPY TAY, VANCOUVER'S ELVIS PRESLEY, who was from SG.  Again thanks, Nora. Appreciate all the info. you provided.

Patrick Koh: 
What a great honor & blessing it is to have others remember your music & the joy it brings to others. Thank you, Andy and everyone for honoring our Dad with this blog. He will be blessed

Cedric Cork: 
Here's one with The Hawaiian band, the late Randel-Neil & Baby Lau! Only a Walter ( with the green shirt ) and I left !!
You can read other feedback by clicking Comments below:

4 comments:

Alfredo Wongo said...

Walter still rocks

ANTHONY TAN said...

We invited Walter Koh to our father's Wedding Anniversary to sing.
The hotel was next to CK Tang.
He was a delight and entertained the guests with only a guitar

We remember Walter as a Joo Chiat boy and a Peranakan.
Glad he's still singing today.

He was a soccer-loving man too.

HAPPY TAN (VANCOUVER CANADA) said...

His son Pat, who lived in Hawaii is making a name for himself as a jazz singer, under the name PAT 'KING' KOH (as in NAT 'KING' COLE) and performing nightly in a lounge in Hawaii with his 3 piece band.


Cheers.

KEN LOY said...

He's still rocking at a cafe at Seah Street on Mondays.