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.
Time for a Tiger
Sembawang Bar in the 60s [for illustration only]
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.
''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?
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.