Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Andy 60s Music Chats - Decline Of Singapore Pops?

[The chat below appeared under Comments 13 years ago. Up till today, I still don't know who JOY is. Perhaps she could reveal herself soon...]

Why did the 60s music scene suddenly disappear, asked Joy.

Joy Gives Her Views

UP TO 300 VIEWS n 40 CHATS 

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt in my mind that this blog is making tremendous progress. Andy is showing admirable perseverance so I hope others will show their support. Though I was not part of the musical scene in the 60s, I find this blog interesting as it helps to fill up many gaps in my knowledge of this aspect of my teenage days.

Roger

24.12.08 

Anonymous said...

I wasn't part of the scene but what I'd like to know is... why did it suddenly disappear?

Joy.

25.12.08 

Anonymous said...

Good question. I've also wondered why. It was a golden age of local musical talent never to be repeated. Perhaps, the pull of economic opportunities in the 70s led to the decline?

Roger

25.12.08 

Roger 

Anonymous said...

Hey Roger!

Thanks for the reply. It was definitely a vibrant scene during the 60's. Talentime aplenty and bands sprouting out from all corners of this little island. Nope, I wasn't born during that period, but I was lucky enough to be educated about the scene by Dad, albeit his disapproval but till this day I don't know why.

My first taste of The Silver Strings came in the form of a video titled Those Were The Days playing Apache to perfection. From then on, I've developed and affinity for local bands. The list could go on and on. From The Stray Dogs, Siglap 5 to Naomi and The Boys and who could forget Thunderbird's, 'My Lonely Heart' and the success of The Quests?

To say that it was a Golden Age of local musical talent never to be repeated? Well perhaps you're right. The only gripe I had about the bands in the 60s was their need to sound like someone else (foreign?). Maybe I'm wrong but perhaps this was their decline? Or could one of 'the member's statement' [1] that The Quests had become so big that other bands had to improve their game be true?

By the mid 70's, the world embraced the arrival of Abba and Bee Gees. In a way, music was revolutionized. Disco's were the placed to be and it was the period of technology, the beginning of the space age some called it. By this time, the local scene was already in its dwindling state. Only a handful of local bands survived. Black Dog Bone? Matthew and the Mandarins

By the 80's, the only thing i remembered was Max Surin's Tokyo Square alongside Linda Elizabeth and of course Dick Lee. It wasn't up until the 90's when there was a so called emergence of the local era, with some bands even citing influence from the 60's local era. They're a different breed of course but no short of talent.

Sadly though, the nation wasn't interested. Perhaps the influence of local radio stations playing songs from foreign artistes led to this demise. One could never fault them though. After all, radio stations are financial institutions.

Late 90's and early 2000, the scene finally gains momentum, that of course, after the government announced that it was going all out to support local arts. Venues and platforms were in placed to showcase their talents. Bands were starting to get recognition and quite a few have gone on to play in other countries and won MTV awards. Are we finally seeing the rebirth of the local scene?

One question remains though, will we ever recapture the spirit of the 60's, where everybody wanted to be part of a band and when practically everyone was looking forward to parties and dancing to a band? Like I said, I wasn't around during that golden era, but my guess is as good as yours :)

Joy

26.12.08 


Andy said...

Hi Joy,

Thank you so much for the feedback. Your comment, I hope will encourage others to write to this blog. I have learnt much from you.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Like everyone else the musicians of the 60s had to face the stark reality of making a living for themselves and their families. Perhaps this was one of the principal reasons for its decline.

However, some soldiered on and are making a scraping a living playing at night spots, clubs etc with some being forced to moonlight in a second job in the day.

26.12.08 

Anonymous said...

No really Mr. Andy, please don't say that.

Its pioneers like you that I have a lot to thank for; and that too for many many reasons.

I've always been a firm believer that Singapore's education system should provide more information on our musical heritage. What's the point of just confining it to the museum?

Anyway, will definitely keep a lookout for your shows. Have a rocking great new year and stay *young always!

Joy

26.12.08 

THE SIGLAP FIVE

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Joy & Roger,

Thank you both again. I guess if it's a meeting of minds then I have to be the grateful Chair, nothing much to do except to allow this natural flow of information which our country needs so much. Please don't stop writing.

Cheers,

Andy

26.12.08 

NB - [1] Name withheld.

Click 'comments' below to read the essay type replies. Cheers.

Andy & Professor Dr. Steven Farram, 
from Darwin, Australia.
Steve is a 60s music enthusiast and
writes for this blog. Check him out.
Tokyo Square - Within You Remain

23 comments:

Fabian Foo said...

Hi Andy,
We are fortunate to have you so passionate to keep a blog for the music in our earlier years. Without it nothing is in record and our music heritage will be limited to those in our national archives.
A salute to your enthusiasm in keeping us informed on the music scene in those days and to keep in contact with some of the local music makers in those years.

MICHAEL LEE from SYDNEY AUSTRALIA said...

Wish it could happen but unlikely at least in Singapore. The environment Singaporeans live in - mostly in HDB or apartments just does not allow for band practices in their homes. The 60s were more laid back years. Holding parties with a band now is practically impossible at home. Also the pressures of modern living just made it unlikely.

FABIAN FOO said...

In the 70s the authorities were hard on those with long hair so the restrictions made a barrier to band members to keep their looks neat and tidy. Furthermore music privacy eroded the earning of the recording companies and the music industry were badly affected.
It was very difficult to upkeep a family for a musician in those days and most would have to keep being employed whilst performing in the evening.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A serious discussion here.
Thanks Fabian and Michael for flagging it off and others for the cheerleader support.
Gracie, Victor also share this post.
APPRECIATE.

FACEBOOK said...

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THANK YOU ALL

STEPHEN HAN said...

In the 50s and 60s many people formed bands and they played at house parties and clubs. Nowadays there are less such functions and fewer nightclubs. I remembered musical bands were the in things at school funfairs.

I saw the Trailers and Benny Koh at Raffles Institution and Henry Suriya at St. Joseph Convent. House Parties happened often. I cannot forget my friend, Johnny Young arranging dances at the St.John’s premises and at a venue at Prince Edward Road and elsewhere. I guess the scenario has changed.

ALOYSIUS TAN [VINTAGERADIO.SG] said...

Evolution.
We have to remember that we are all creatures of our environment . The environment is in constant change and through the decades, like it or not, it has evolved .... a lot .....

Back then, there was no social media, no internet, no cable TV, no MTV, and only a few radio stations. There were less demands (distractions) for time and the attention of many.

Through the years, our local music scene has had its ups and downs and yes, local Radio and TV may have had a part to do with it but that is a small part .... While it will be difficult (impossible perhaps) to replicate the 60's era, we do see more of our local talents today, popping up on Social Media and gaining traction and recognition locally and beyond our shores. Some may not all have the "chops" but some are potentially (really) good.

So perhaps the expanded question is ... Have we stopped evolving?

I guess it is also important for all Singaporeans to not be afraid of technology which can in turn, help us to re-discover what is Singapore Pop or what is the Singapore Sound and Voice. We cannot fight it .... so let's not give the excuse that we are not "tech-savvy". Let's help each other to get on the bandwagon that tech has presented.

And if we recognize that the environment has changed (and it has), should we not have a different standard of "measurement" as well?

Don't get me wrong. It is great (and important) to reminisce and yes, we did have a great 60's music scene which we are all proud of and that is part of our heritage and it needs to be recognized and preserved. I guess what we can all do is to support and nurture what talents we have on this little red dot and see where it can go. Perhaps, we can have a "20's" or "30's" that can be the next milestone?

PERRY KOH (SINGER/ENTREPRENEUR) said...

Some corrections:
For me, the reasons are pretty straight forward (in the local context)
1. A whole generation gone- the generation that was living, breathing and singing the songs of the 60s and 70s have either passed on or are in their twilight years and have other pressing matters than to indulge in music.

2. The growing Chinese music influence- the younger generation sees more merit in the Chinese music market and some musicians who were originally influenced by western music don’t think they can make a decent living with Western music compared to Chinese music and this have switched “channels”

3. The end of the CD culture- as music is now available mostly through downloads, the older generation are not adventurous enough to search, download just to listen to their favourite oldies. Most of them now depend on the radio and we all know the crap they play on our local radio channels.

CHRISTOPHER TOH (JOURNALIST) said...

There's actually quite a lot of reasons why the music scene died out during the 70s and early 80s.

- govt crackdown & the closing of nightclubs

- the negative association of rock music. it was linked to sex+drugs+gangsterism resulting in a moral panic
- even the long-hair ban

- the ban on rock concerts (even at the National Theatre, where rock concerts were held)

- the general antipathy of the public because they had more pressing concerns (a lot of the 1960s music shows was attended by British military personnel and expats, when the British forces finally left in 1971, a major chunk of the audience was gone)

- lack of good artist management practices

- the rampant piracy of music

- local artists were not doing much original music. Apart from Dick Lee, who had songs like Fried Rice Paradise banned (for Singlish!), few other artists performed original material

CHRISTOPHER TOH [JOURNALIST] said...

It was only from 1985 onwards that the grassroots and ground-up music scene began resurfacing, resulting in the 'indie' scene of the 1990s.

CHOW WEN HING [SINGER/COMPOSER] said...

I feel that Singapore music has grown by leaps and bounds from the 1960s. This is like everything Singapore does - we pick up from the best and then doing it our way becomes our quest.

But in any new endeavour there will bound to be a learning curve, and so I believe that our local musicians are going through just that curve - see graph.

[1]
https://whitneyjohnson.com/lean-in-surfing-the-s-curve-how-to-disrupt-yourself-and-why/

As such, Singapore musicians are now probably going through a stage of growing our competence and direction in everything music, and bearing in mind that it has taken musically successful place scores of years to perfect their craft, so a short half a century is but just the beginning for us.

So, yes; it has quieted down a little in some ways but it is the calm before the storm. Singaporeans and Singapore musicians in particular will show up one day with something so moving and powerful that we will earn a spot on the world pop music culture.

Watch this spot…!

CWH, 230921

[1] For website connection - please copy and paste.

CHOW WEN HING (SINGER/COMPOSER) said...


What Chris write is right on the money! And this is the growing pains that any endeavour would have to endure, and eventually grow out of both within the musician community and the larger societal context it is effective in. I feel we have crossed that threshold, and our concerns are no longer those of the 60s and 70s.

The new generation of musicians and listeners are better informed, more exposed and have matured in that way. We are poised to chart our own course as evident by the many indie bands and performers that sprouted in the 90s. Yes, many are unknown to most but the most esoteric of us, but they are the unsung heroes of future Singapore musicians as they cut away at the undergrowth of our journey to ‘becoming’. We are getting there, and veterans can continue to play a part by trying to understand what this new musicians are all about and if possible, be an active supporter. Just like the kind of supporter they would have liked when they themselves were starting out.

Don’t quote me - but please don’t moan and complain about what had transpired. Nothing can be done to undo what had passed. But look to see how to help those coming up. They need it from those who had done it before. Support them if possible. Don’t throw more problems at their feet. They already know it is difficult, don’t have to keep saying it. But maybe be on their side and work at what is possible?

WINSTON KOH [SINGER WITH 'THE TRALERS'] said...

I was with the FLYING PHANTOMS since 1962.
Those days there were no music scores nor lyrics available.
We had to play the record, catch the song and write out the lyrics and accompanying chords.
Most of the lyrics were not 100 percent correct since we had to listen and jot the words down.

However we were lucky to have a good manager who got us many gigs at the bases of the British Forces in Singapore, house parties, wedding gigs, private functions and also appearing in many RTS TV shows.

Those were the real 'hard days night' but we also enjoyed and played many hours, 3 to 5 hours actually, especially in the British Arm Forces bases but they paid for any extension.

AUDIE NG [SILVER STRINGS/BAND LEADER/BASSIST] said...

In d 60s we band boys were very fortunate to have a lot of parties at British Barrack, mostly locally organised at venues such as F n N Hall, St John Ambulance Hall, Ntuc Conference Hall and for concerts the venues were Badminton Hall, Happy World Stadium, Victoria Memorial Hall n National Theatre.

We also performed at Tea Dances during d Weekends at

1)Celestial Room (Andy n Silver Strings], Simon n Blackjacks n The Jets
2) Golden Venue (Checkmates)
3) Princes Garni (Dukes) n Palace Theatre ( Trailers) and
4] Early Bird Show at Capitol n Odeon Cinema.

Most of d bands will try to be recording artistes for recognition but only a handful make it. Towards end of 60s some bands were performing nitely as Professionals at the best venues

1)Serene House R n R during Vietnam War where Silver Strings performed
2) Shelford Hotel d Hilites (Mandarins) n Newton Towers - Esquires.

Sadly we are d Last of Mohicans.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

freda Hanum
Coming from the 60s 70s I find the spirit of musicians are so much more passion and dedication in the music industry. Truely agree and so nice indeed what Joy had written

Andy Young
Thanks Freda. It's true. Passionate and dedicated. I'm still wondering who 'Joy' is.

Freda Hanum
Andy Young Oh haha Andy 😅

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

JIMMY APPUDURAI
I honestly think Freda. that the passion today is just as important and true as before...they possibly have the advantage of having amazing equipment which we don't in the 60s and 70s..the spirit is always there. My two cents worth xxxxxx

Freda Hanum
Jimmy Appudurai-chua True and agree also Jimmy 👍

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Freda Hanum The new kids on the block are so far AHEAD as compared to me during my time. I applaud their talents..could be they are exposed to better media coverage but I enjoy watching them and can learn from them.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

jimmy
however I do agree that the legacy of the music by the Beatles, stones, Yardbirds, beach boys ,Eagles Carlos Santana and Motown stars. is hard to match xxxx

Freda Hanum
Jimmy Appudurai-chua Really and truely the unforgetable ones🤗

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Freda Hanum And don't forget the teepees

Freda Hanum
Jimmy Appudurai-chua Jimmy! The Straydogs lah

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Freda Hanum thank you so much.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

IRENE YAP
For the many of us during the 60s and 70s era, the memories will stay with us forever. Some we may forget but thanks to you Andy Young for triggering those forgotten ones back with your wonderful blog! So the 60s scene may disappear but they always stays in our hearts!!

Michael Lee
Yes the memories will stay with us.

Frank Tan
Days of Kelong, Barbarella, Spot Spot, The Eye, Lost Horizon, Kasbah, etc etc. S'pore supreme music era at its best.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for this very friendly discussion. They are more than chats, especially with people like JIMMY, FREDA and IRENE in the discussion, all recording artistes; and on the blog I managed to bring in CHRISTOPHER TOH, music journalist with Today, ALOYSIOUS TAN, who is presently one of the heads with VINTAGE RADIO SG and stalwarts FABIAN FOO, MICHAEL LEE and the man who witnessed the action in the 60s, STEPHEN HAN. Then singers like WINSTON KOH, PERRY KOH, WEN HING, and of course AUDIE NG, Silver Strings leader.

There are two generations of music souls on the COMMENT pages.
Lively discussion and experiences they provide.
Do read.
CHEERS.

[If I had missed you out please forgive me.]

JOHNNY YEO said...

Thank you Andrew for sharing.

Even though currently the music scene in Singapore is not as vibrant as the 60s but it is not dead. There are new singers and bands appearing online but disappointedly our local radio channels do not play any of their songs and music released by these singers and bands.

I was impressed by the singer who sang this year's NDP song. Unknown to most people but she has a good voice and can sing well. We should have YouTube, FB channels, Instagram and Tik-Tok channels to showcase these new budding artistes.

Apparently in the Us, these singers on social media were picked by the organisers of the popular program called THE VOICE.

IRENE YAP RECORDING ARTISTE said...

Thank you very much Andy for your very kind wishes!! As for the comments it is so great to see so many of us sharing our memories here! Music brings ppl together especially good old times!!

Eccw said...

I wouldn't say local pop is dead. We have local acts like The Sam Willows, Gentle Bones, Linying etc that are decently good but of course, cannot replicate the vibrancy of the 60s. I would say this isn't unique to just Singapore. Take a look at American music, probably the most popular worldwide. Pop music has changed so much there too. Rock N Roll has taken a backseat. Thankfully there are young bands trying to recreate the sounds of the oldies. Admittedly the soul of 60s music is one that has been lost and can never be replaced, but music is not dead and never will be - just has transformed into a new version, one that is more mellow and mainstream and just not quite as fun. Thank you Andy for keeping the soul of the 60s alive.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Eccw for informing us about the new generation of SG music makers.

I am certain some of our Seniors are not aware of the bands and singers that you mentioned.

But I remember lately how WINSTON KOH appeared with DIMENSION 5 [a youthful group indeed] doing a tribute to CLIFF and SHADOWS. That's really somethin'.

Yes, you are absolutely right, 60s music can never be replaced but indeed transformed.
Hopefully, not many are, you will help to bridge that generation gap with your knowledge and ability as a specialist with social media.