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My thanks again to Jimmy Chng, one of the best drummers during the Singapore 60s pop music era, for this article:
A decade back, after contributing the article on DECIBELS pop band to your blog, you had generously invited me to join you as a team writer. I replied that I wasn't up to it but added this comment - “Nevertheless should I recollect any interesting stories pertaining to the 60s pop scene, I’ll let you know.” And to that, your response was - “I shall always be waiting for your next tale pertaining to the 60s pop scene.”
Ten years is a pretty long wait by any measure. However, as the saying goes - " Patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet." And so here's my next tale pertaining to the 60s pop scene.
With the year of the Rabbit, here's wishing you good health and happiness in the coming lunar new year and the years ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai.
Apart from two Hofner guitars (a bass and a lead) which I had passed to my elder brother a long time back, the rest of the other instruments had either been discarded/damaged or given away. I remember that I sold the drum set to the Foo Chow Methodist Church in Race Course Road through a colleague of mine who’s a member of the church. This was way back in the mid 70s.
In the early years of our local pop band history, the WATKINS COPICAT Echo Unit was a sought after add-on to the basic guitar amplifiers that most aspiring bands could only afford. Before the introduction of echo effects producing equipment, guitar amplifiers had only the tremolo/vibrato effect feature built-in. Guitar amplifiers with built-in reverb feature soon followed.
Arguably, it was the Shadows that popularized the echo effects in pop music with their iconic recording of APACHE although the tape echo unit used by Hank Marvin for the recording wasn’t the Watkins Copicat Echo Unit.
Two other brands of echo units were also available in Singapore. One was the Schaller and the other, the Swissecho. I do not remember which of these two brands was more popular but most fledgling bands would start off with the Copicat and later “upgrade” to one of these. So too did DECIBELS, as our band subsequently “upgraded” to a pre-owned Schaller unit like the one pictured below:
Dunearn Secondary Technical School Concert:
DECIBELS was the main band in attendance for a concert held at the Dunearn Secondary Technical School sometime in the mid 60s. I cannot remember if the concert was held to mark the school’s opening or for some other event. I had received a call from a school teacher by the name of Mr. Lai (can’t remember his full name) asking if our band would like to perform at the concert. Incidentally, he (Mr. Lai) had participated in one of the RTS talentime contests singing his very own rendition of “Isle Of Singapura” to the tune of "Isle Of Capri".
If there are readers out there who are former students or teachers of DSTS and had attended the concert, hopefully some of them would be able to provide additional information about the concert.
The guest band for the concert was Willy Jokers. Up to that point in time, our band did not have any echo unit. We only relied on the tremolo and reverb effects that came with the Fender amplifier. The COPICAT Echo unit which the DECIBELS band eventually owned was acquired from Willy Jokers.
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