Sunday, July 14, 2019

So You Want To Be In A Rock Band: Peter Diaz (October Cherries)

Peter Diaz read a copy of my posting about '60s Music Aging Pop Stars And Their Book Biographies'. Since he did a biography too (available on Kindle) I agreed to post his summary on the book. 

Peter echoed that 60s musicians are all getting on, "Well, I for one, certainly am but I am quite contented with my lot and very grateful to God for the blessings bestowed upon me. You take good care mate. Best regards.
So You Want To Be In A Rock Band: Peter Diaz (Published 2017)

"Singaporean musician Peter Diaz recounts with panache and unbeatable positivity his career as a rock musician in this laugh-out-loud autobiography, "So You Want to Be in a Rock Band".

Focusing on his remarkable career as singer/songwriter/guitarist with the October Cherries in the late 1960s and 1970s, Diaz writes for today’s generation of budding rock stars about the trials and tribulations of being a musician in Singapore and going on to seek fame in Europe during the flower-power period of social change and nation-building. 
Peter Diaz EPK (Electronic Press Kit): A short video by students from SAE Institute Singapore, pursuing their Diploma in Audio Engineering, featuring a local musician.
With charm and unfailing humor, he describes early days at school when he self-learned three chords on the guitar and then “found” others. As a teen, he competed in a Malaysian Talent Time contest – the equivalent of The Voice or You’ve Got Talent. The experience was exhilarating and rather than “become something” as his dad orders, Peter leaves home (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) in search of a career in music with fame, fortune and Ferraris (did they even have those back then?) in Singapore, 1967, with $20 in his pocket and no address of relatives to stay with.
With no family to make life easy, and after a brief “career” selling Encyclopaedia Britannica door-to-door (4 sets sold, although 2 orders cancelled!), by luck he auditions and joins The Surfers – later renamed the October Cherries and embarks on 6 years in the band with all of the ups and downs that comes with being young, “wet behind the ears”, naïve – really naïve, rock enthusiasts driven by testosterone and determined to make it big.

And make it big they do. First as The Surfers, then as the October Cherries, the foursome signed with EMI Records and saw huge regional fame with hits including “Far Away Now”, “Beautiful Sunday” and “All Things Work for Good to them that Love God” (is that a title, or what?). With a wonderful eye for detail and hilarious turn of phrase, Peter describes the band’s beautiful successes and devastating failures in Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore and Malaysia, and then their attempts to take their psychedelic rock music straight into “the lion’s den” of London, the UK in 1971. 
Without a Plan A or B, the Cherries end up living in Belgium where EMI Records signs them to four albums. But not before almost starving, living off Leo chocolate and driving all the way to St. Tropez for a gig that isn’t booked! The craziness of their gung-ho optimism and how serendipity keeps them intact endears the reader to Peter’s unflagging optimism and inspires today’s music hopefuls and anyone who remembers “old-school” items such as “vinyl records” and even CDs!
Even though the band’s rock style is influenced by the Beatles and other psychedelic groups of the late sixties, the Cherries never aspired to the drug-taking, booze-drinking, sex-crazed stereotype of rock musicians. Instead, we get to know four dedicated young men whose biggest transgression is growing their hair beyond their collars – learning the ropes of life, love and music as they go. On tour in Karachi, Pakistan, they even learn to keep playing the same song 20 times for a gang of gun-wielding drug lords until said drug lords are too drunk to yell for another encore!
From near-death experiences in the skies and hanging out of a toilet window, to dealing with a tour gone wrong in India, Peter tells it like it really was to be a rock band in the sixties and seventies. You couldn’t make this stuff up!"

(I grant Andy Lim my permission to post the Amazon Website where my Kindle book 'So you Want To Be In A Rock Band' can be found. Thank you for helping me to publicise my book.)

Thanks very much Peter for sharing.  I hope readers will buy a copy to experience what you did as a rock singer those years.

Peter Diaz (image above) wrote this article. Images were also from him, my personal collection and Google.



Andy Young
Come on guys, give support to Peter's book where he writes about the Surfers and October Cherries. You can get it from Peter direct if you wanna meet him. Cheers

Andy Young
Thanks Ann. You're so supportive.

Andy Young
Rose thank you.

Terence Lee
Very nice presentation.

Hiroshi Deguchi
I am amazed SG is rich in musical talents and timely, I can enjoy watching him sing "Proud Mary" on OLPS Night of Music posted by John just now.

Stephen Han
I’m only familiar with Jay Shotam who used to play from a shop house in Orchard Rd opposite Amber Mansion .Alex Josef who was residing at the Cathay Building would call the police to complain of the loud sound.

Freda Hanum
Teepees did an appearance for a charity stage show together with The October Cherries and also The Grim Peaches at Snowball KL, organised by the University of Malaya on 24th Dec 1970. Can't remember much, we are so naive, only just a nod, smile and hello with them.

Andy Young
Thank you all 10 for the thumbs up on this post and the very informative comments from Terence, Hiroshi, Stephen, and Freda. Stephen, you are familiar with Jay and Alex. Freda you are specific with your details. I can imagine the backstage happenings.



Freda Hanum
Terence Lee
Ivor Lesslar
Ho Victor
Angela Leow
Stephen Han
Ann Rowena Lim
Hiroshi Deguchi
Rose Khoo
Peter Cheong


And I also want to mention that your blog is really amazing for readers even if there's no book published, it doesn't really matter. People are more on computers nowadays.


I used to perform in the same club as the October Cherries in Karachi; those so-called drug lords were actually marble kings. One of their leaders hung out in the clubs (Samar) almost every night.

Everybody owns a gun there, they shoot each other when there's a fight.

The marble is used to make furniture and accessories.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

They were v gd musicians. I like their music. Still keeping their records. From which outlet to get their book?👍👍

Andy Young
Thanks, Peter. I just spoke to Peter Diaz. There are no hard copies available but you can read them from the Amazon and Kindle connection found on the Amazon Website.

(Also thanks to Jimmy Appudurai-chua for LIKING this post.)