Saturday, February 12, 2022

Vietnam War Music Trail: Singaporean Drummer: Cedric Cork: Part 1

Percussionist Cedric Cork today
[Copyrights Reserved]

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PART ONE

A Band Boy at Fourteen

Sincere, friendly and quick-thinking, when I asked if  we could chat about his music journey, he agreed without hesitation. And it took nearly two years before I could chat with him; it was my problem, not his.

His first words, ''Andy, I left school in Secondary 2 and took up the drums.''

That's him, straight and unassuming.

His decision would have been a no-no for many parents today but with much motherly love and care, Mrs. Cork allowed her son to pursue a career that would last him a lifetime. It was a challenge since his father passed away when he was about three. Mrs. Cork was a single mum.

I have never met him personally, but on this blog spotlight is Cedric Cork, one of the ultimate percussionists in Singapore today. 

Here goes.

Time for a Tiger

Sembawang Bar in the 60s [for illustration only]

Copyrights Reserved: Allan Thompson

He learnt by watching other drummers play and at 14 years left St Patrick's School and soon formed a youthful guitar group called the Zodiacs. Cedric lived around the Frankel Estate area in the East Coast. That was in 1964 when the band became reality.

''I learnt the drums by playing on stage, raw,'' he mentioned. That's his sincerity exposed. 

Oh yes, they practised like professionals and those years acquired many gigs playing at the British Army and RAF camps at Nee Soon, Sembawang, Changi and everywhere else the band could find a niche. They entertained the tankard gangs at Ritz Bar and an agent called Andrews, acquired the contracts. The bar, typically filled with friendly folks, realised when the evening ended what, 'Time for a Tiger' meant. With the swinging Zodiacs performing, there wasn't much feel to go home then. Home was far, far away for the soldier boys.

The Zodiacs [Copyrights Reserved]
Seated left: Tony Lee (rhythm), Sonny Lee (lead)
Standing left: Cedric Cork (drums), Lancelot George (bass). 

Four Sets for Fifty Dollars

''It was good money,'' according to Cedric, ''and for the night playing three or four sets, we were paid ten to fifteen dollars each.'' That's looking at about 50 dollars for an evening's gig. Remember those years, a bowl of noodles or a plate of rice with food didn't cost much. About a dollar plus for both food and drinks. But they were a happy lot, especially the guests.

These gigs became more frequent and Zodiacs lasted till about 1967 and they functioned during T-Dances, evening clubs like the Celestial Room and even hotels, at weddings and birthday parties. If you have been reading about Singapore's nightlife then you would have realised that there were many bands like the Zodiacs but apparently and, according to Cedric, the public wanted them as much. Getting contracts to perform wasn't a problem.

Zodiacs sang and played songs that were the order of the day, from rock to rhumba, and requests were high and the soft drinks never ran dry. Three dollars for a drink and the patrons held it for the whole night? 

Kenneth Gomez [with tambourine] was Singapore's  
Cliff Richard officially, since he won it in a competition.

For the band boys, their Zodiac signs must have been comfortably compatible where their relationship is concerned. They got along well and entertained the crowd for about 3 years.

As with most band line-ups, they change. The first photograph above shows The Zodiacs, with, seated left, Tony Lee (rhythm), Sonny Lee (lead). Standing left, Cedric Cork (drums), Lancelot George (bass).  Other line-ups included: Sonny Bala, Tony Lee, Lancelot George, and singers Joe Monteiro and Kenneth Gomez [the original Singapore's Cliff Richard]. This particular combination lasted a year. 

Then things got more serious when Cedric had an offer to fly to Vietnam to play with a band in the war zone.

Nee Soon 60s: The popular song was, 
"Fly me to Nee Soon and let me play among the bars."

Tea Dance in Singapore 60s

Next posting:

PART TWO
THE VIETNAM WAR TOURS
SUNNY BALA N THE MOONGLOWS
features CEDRIC CORK.

Their Vietnam tour was to entertain the U.S Troops and the lot stationed there! 
In his own words:

"I went there in 1968 with Sonny Bala, Teddy [Ah Chye] and Granville DeSilva. We were the 1st batch. The 2nd batch was with Sonny Bala, Granville, Bozo Hamid and George Lim..."

Watch out for the actual Vietnam War Music Trail in Part 2 below:


For What's It's Worth: Buffalo Springfield.
YouTube Video from RHINO

"There's something happening here
But what it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong..."

[For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
Songwriter: Stephen Stills; a protest song,
more for the banning of clubs and music 
places along Sunset Strip. Also used by
people against the Vietnam War.]


Article and Images: Copyrights Reserved.


12 comments:

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

It must have had been something special to play music in a time of war and conflict. As I started to understand the scale and extent of the global conflicts around the Indochina region, I could only experience the anguish and despair vicariously through the songs of the times.

If I have a chance to request for a song from the ZODIACS, it would have been a SIMON and GARFUNKEL song, THE BOXER, which I feel reflects the same despair and helpless atmosphere of the times perfectly; and I am sure the ZODIACS would have performed it as poignantly and passionately.

Musicians are the heroes and real life changers, doing their part and sharing the peace through music and songs.

Play on ZODIACS.

WINSTON KOH [THE TRAILERS VOCALIST] said...

According to the latest news, Ukraine War is coming soon!

OLIVER B. [DRUMMER/FORMER SEC SCHOOL PRINCIPAL said...

Thanks.
No many know the story of the ZODIACS.
Your feature tells all.

Cedric Collars said...

Cedric and I were classmates in St Patrick's Primary school and we both grew up with his cousin Wilfried and Jeffery Gomes in Siglap. It's amazing that most of our mates grew up playing music like Harvey Klass, Gerald Pereira and Patrick Caroll. Good on you Cedric keep the beat and live the life. 🎼👍

FREDA HANUM TEEPEES [KL/MALAYSIA] said...


Such a wonderful article of Cedric Cork of Zodiacs and Moonglows...yes can feel their dedications and their enthusiasm in their music, it don't matter where they perform, they'll feel so eager for it.

Good article if local musician Andy👍😊

STEPHEN HAN said...

Tea dance was very popular in Singapore in the 50s and 60s

MICHAEL BANGAR [PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST] said...

Hi Andy,

I had the distinct honour, in late 1968, of playing together in a line-up featuring CEDRIC CORK on drums, the late SUNNY BALA on lead guitar and the late RANDALL MORALIS on bass guitar and myself on rhythm guitar. We all shared vocal duties. We rehearsed at SUNNY's flat at BISHAN.

We did a couple of gigs together but unfortunately Brother SUNNY passed away on the 17th JULY,
JANUARY, 1987. The band just did not continue after that sad occasion. [My story to tell.]

MICHAEL BANGAR [PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST] said...

Disappointed that no photos were taken of us playing together.

I also remembered a gig we did in SEMBAWANG that housed the VIETNAMESE BOAT PEOPLE that got stranded here and were later given shelter in the U.S., Australia, Canada, etc.

AUDIE NG [SILVER STRINGS] said...

For your information, CEDRIC CORK was one of two drummers we selected to play with THE SILVER STRINGS on our 55th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT in 2019 because they were both recommended by JERRY FERNANDEZ but CEDRIC was in AUSTRALIA and wasn't available.

MICHAEL CHENG, who is just as versatile, was our drummer that evening.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I am most grateful to all who wrote in to comment on this post.

It is without doubt that the 60s experience is still well and alive today, with interest still strong where our musicians are concerned.

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH FOR YOUR PRECIOUS TIME.

CEDRIC,
300 views within 24 hours is a lot of views.
They still remember you and the band.
Cheers.

Danielle said...

Great post about Cedric, the Zodiacs and the Moonglows! Super cool that he played with the Moonglows in Vietnam during the war- must have been such a great blessing to the soldiers there during difficult times. Loving the photos as always, especially the one of the Zodiacs! Looking sharp!:)

Thank you Cedric and Andy for sharing this wonderful story!

CHAKAP CHAKAP: said...

AMENDMENT:

FROM MICHAEL BANGAR:

"Hi Andy,

I had the distinct honour, in late 1968, of playing together in a line-up featuring CEDRIC CORK on drums, the late SUNNY BALA on lead guitar and the late RANDALL MORALIS on bass guitar and myself on rhythm guitar. We all shared vocal duties. We rehearsed at SUNNY's flat at BISHAN."

THE DATE '1968' SHOULD READ '1986'.