The Quest Band

The Quest Band, featuring Jap Chong, Wee Guan, Vernon Cornelius and Samuel Toh will be performing at the Queenstown Community Centre Auditorium on Friday 13 Sep and Sunday 15 Sep 2013.


The Story Of The Stylers (Our Songs)

Latest Update ! The Stylers Box-set of 06 CDs has been released by Warner Music on 19 Sep 11. Stock available at all major stores including HMV, Gramaphone, CD Rama, That CD Shop, MJ Multimedia, among others.

During the early 60s, The Shadows were one of the most popular instrumental groups among Singapore teenagers. Anyone who was capable enough to pick up a guitar and strum some musical chords would like to emulate themselves as The Shadows. That was also a boom period for local music with The Crescendos leading the charge towards stardom, followed by The Quests and others.

Among the thousands enthusiastic young lads who chased the dream of The Shadows were four teenagers from the East Coast of Singapore – Rahman, Frankie Abdullah, Idros and Randy Lee Keng. They teamed up as a band with 3 Guitarists and a Drummer and called themselves The Angels, managed by Randy’s Uncle. Rahman was on lead guitar, Frankie on bass, Randy on rhythm and Idros on drums. When Rahman left the group in 1962, John Teo replaced him on lead guitar and when Idros left, Osman came on as the group’s drummer. By then the group’s name has changed to The Rhythm Strikers. Most of their early days' practice sessions were held at Joo Chiat Terrace. While performing at one of the functions organized by Cathay Organization, the establishment’s manager, a Caucasian, suggested that the group take on another name change to The Stylers, since they were performing with a lot of style, commitment and showmanship on stage.

As the group gained more confidence over time with frequent practices and party gigs, they decided to participate in the Cliff Richard & The Shadows Contest organized by Shaw Organization in late 1962. To their own surprise, the group emerged as Runner-Up with The Shadows' greatest hit - Apache, 2nd to the eventual winners – The Stompers. Surprised was the feeling because there were much more established groups during that period. A group called The Trekkers came in third.

Following this success, the group was offered several contracts and gigs over the island and even landed up with a 2-year Tea Dance contract at the popular Celestial Room at Amber Mansions, Orchard Road.

Over the years there were more changes to the group’s line-up. When Frankie, Osman and Stewart Chew (vocals) left, Ronnie See (vocals), Douglas Tan (bass) and Alvin Wong (drums) from The Burns joined them. It was during their stint at the Celestial Room when Robert Song joined the group as well. Robert was also responsible the The Stylers icon design with two bunny ears on the “S”. In late 1963 or early 64 they had their first recording contract sealed with Miracle Records together with a singer by the name of Maggie. The record was a big success as this was followed by several more recordings and offers of contracts by different recording companies in the region, including live performances at the National Theatre, Musical Express and Early Bird Shows at the Capitol and Odean cinemas. The Stylers were also high on demand for Getais, a yearly event and most of the districts in Singapore where they performed would book them one year in advance. The Stylers has finally arrived!

During the 60s and 70s, The Stylers were one of the most popular local group, proficient in both Eastern and Western music although they were much better known among the Mandarin speaking masses. They were probably the local group that released the most records in different languages including Mandarin, English, Hokkien, Cantonese, both instrumentals and vocals, and even a few Malay albums. The group produced more than a thousand records in total, which also included works with other popular artistes from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Some of these artistes included Wang Chin Yuen, Chang Xiao Yin, Lena Lim, Lin Ying, Victor Wu Kang, Yuli, Chen Jie, Maggie & Judy Teng, Chopstick Sisters, Pearl Sisters, comedians Wang Sa & Ya Fung, Nan Hong, Donny Yap, Kok Peng Kim, Huang Li Qin, Simon Junior, Rahiman Rahim, Chen Kum Cheong, Long Piau Piau, Yao Su Rong, Zhang Wei Wei, Fong Fei Fei, Jenny Tseng, Lau Chi Weng, Ervinna, Robin, Lisa Wong, Michelle Xie, and Huang Xiao Jun among others. In addition, the group recorded with more than 30 different recording companies from the region. The group’s repertoire of Eastern and Western music ranges from A-Go-Go, Off-Beat Cha Cha, Classical Chinese Instrumentals, Soul, Rhythm & Blues and more.

The group’s line-up remained stabilized until 1980 when Lawrence Lum from the SBC Orchestra replaced the late Alvin Wong. Members of the Stylers also set up their own recording company with themselves and their manager Ronald Tham as shareholders.

Like all successful groups, The Stylers band also eased out of the entertainment circles gradually in the 1990s when Robert Song migrated to the Philippines while John and Randy decided to venture into other businesses. But their music still lives on till this day and members of the group are still active in the music scene. Thanks for good music and memories, guys.

Well, the good news is that The Stlyers are planning to release a 6-CD Box set compliation of some of the past recordings soon. The compilation would include instrumentals of popular English, Mandarin & Malay tunes, vocals in English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien from the 60s/70s era. Don't miss out on this fabulous box-set titled "Our Songs" which will also contain past photos of the group through the years as stock will be limited ! Cheers.

Compiled by Vernon Cheong with thanks to Randy Lee Keng.
01 July 2011


Happy New Year 2011 !

The Singapore Swimming Club held a New Year's Eve Ball on 31 December 2010 at their newly renovated ballroom. Entertainment for the glamorous event was provided by a 6-piece band featuring some of Singapore's best musicians - Ivor Lesslar (lead guitar), Jap Chong (rhythm guitar), David Low (bass guitar), Phillip Koh (drums) & Benson Goh (keyboards). Other top entertainers that ushered in the New Year together with the guests included Reim de Wolff (Blue Diamonds), Vernon Cornelius (Quests) and Jasmine Tye (Singapore Idol). It was an unforgetable evening of great entertainment, fun and joy, with Vernon rolling back the Cliff Richard years, Reim charming the guests with the Blue Diamonds' hit years and Jasmine reassuring us that the future of local pop music is in good hands and still vibrant. And of course there were fond memories of our 60s' hey days with members of the Quests (Jap & Vernon), Blackjacks (David & Phillip) and Cells Unlimited (Ivor Lesslar) showing their immense talents on stage. Thank you for the music and a great evening guys.........Cheers to 2011 !


Uncle Ray 101 - Hong Kong All Time Favourites

Hi, this is Uncle Ray! Over the years I introduced and presented the local pop scene of the 60's. Most of my local listeners are mainly Chinese teenagers who grew up with my kind of music and upon graduation, some have immigrated to different parts of the world, like Toronto, Vancouver, the United States, Australia and UK but still listening to my late night shows, thanks to the Internet.

As we grew older we cast our memories to the good old days remembering the good old teenage times. With this in mind, I have sought the help of Universal Records to put together a huge collection of the 60s and 70s music that bought us such joy during our younger days. This rare opportunity was very carefully selected and some of these recordings are no longer available. So be proud, be happy, sit back and put the first CD on and relax... You were young, carefree, and life was simple, wonderful, and those good old memories may never come back again.

- Uncle Ray.

PS - This 6-CD Box-set is now available at local stores in Singapore.


Veronica Young - The Little Girl from Pulau Brani

During the early 60s, a little kampong girl and her family moved from the serene island of Pulau Brani to mainland Singapore where they made their home at Cantonment Road. Her first taste of the local music scene was through the courtesy of her classmates who conveniently used her as a passport to convince their parents to allow them to periodically attend Tea Dances that soon became a weekly routine.

It was during one of those Tea Dances at the South East Asia Hotel in Waterloo Street where The Silver Strings & The Cyclones were performing that this teenager met Siva Choy who was practising his guitar at the back of the hotel and they instantly struck up a conversation. Siva asked whether she sang and did she know any songs? Her reply was “Never before” although she was finally coaxed into humming “That’s All I Want From You” which impressed him enough to suggest that she sing with The Silver String on the following Sunday’s show.

The teenager did not take Siva’s invitation seriously and forgot about it until the next weekend when her classmates wanted to joget again at the same joint. Siva recognized her instantly and promptly invited her on stage. From that moment, a star was born, Veronica Young, a legendary stage name given to her by some of her close friends who found her cute and irresistible!

In the next few months, the combined talents of The Silver Strings, The Cyclones & Veronica brought in the crowds every weekend and demands for their shows kept them busy, coupled with regular practices. As Veronica was still schooling at that time, she had to strike a fine balance between her studies and singing. Mum was obviously concerned, and it took some convincing for Mum to allow Veronica to continue her singing during the weekends. About a month after she joined The Silver Strings, Audie Ng suggested that they participate in the Millie Small of “My Boy Lollipop” fame Singing Competition.

Veronica & The Silver Strings won the competition with flying colors and were presented with a Roxy black & white TV which she brought home with immense pride and joy for herself and the family. Till this day, Veronica still feels a lump on her throat whenever she speaks about her triumph fondly. Since winning the competition, Veronica found herself spending more time in the entertainment circle with increasing demands for her performance from various sources. With Mum’s consent, she finally made the difficult decision of quitting school in 1964 to concentrate fulltime on her singing career which reaped steady good income to supplement her parents in providing for their reasonably large family of brothers and sisters.

As expected, her new found fame brought her several new singing contracts at popular entertainment spots like the Golden Venus, Dragon Room, Celestial Room, New Penang Way, West Point, Changi Hawaii Village, Singapore Badminton Hall, National Theatre, Naval Base, etc. She was also invited to perform in Malaysia with Keith Locke & The Quests, Ronnie See & The Burns, The Sunny Low Dancers, and more. Back home, she had the opportunities to share the same stage with the best of local talents, which included the late Susan Lim & The Crescendos, and regular appearances on the very popular weekend Early Bird and Musical Express Shows at the Odeon, Roxy and Capitol cinemas. It was around this stage of her career that Shirley Nair came into the scene with The Silver Strings as well and Veronica finally decided to move on by herself to meet new challenges and she sang her way to greater heights of popularity at music bars from 3 to 7pm daily with much zest.

In 1966 she had her first overseas contract in Kuching, East Malaysia with The Echo-Jets, led by the late Patrick Seet. Other members in that group include Raymond Lim, Ricky, Salem, Sunny and Ronnie. More contract offers came along which saw Veronica appearing in places like the Ocean Park Hotel, Multi-Storey Car Park, G.H. Café at Battery Road with the late Peter Richards and Moses Tay, Shamrock at Dublin Road, Prince Gurney Hotel, Continental Hotel, Ambassador Hotel and several TV appearances as well. Somewhere along this period, she also performed with Robert Song and recorded an EP with The Moonglows on the Philips label, featuring four original compositions by Patrick Seet, titled Lollipop, Dreams of Love, The Thrill to Love You and Thank You for Your Kindness.

In 1967 she packed her bags again and took on another overseas assignment with The Impian Bateks in Vietnam. Upon her return to Singapore after 6 months, she appeared at Shindig (the old Shamrock at Killiney Road) with The Tidbits (RTS Talentime winners in 1967/68), which was followed by another stint in Vietnam, again with a mix of Korean and Filipino entertainers, including versatile drummer Cedric Cork. Returning in late 1968, she accepted another contract to perform at The Paya Lebar International Airport, the only place that closed as late as 4am at the time, until late 1969. Next, she moved on to the Country Club in East Coast where Matthew & The Mandarins were also performing. In 1975 she hit Peyton Place, Orchard Towers with Terry & Tony until she met her husband and left for Korea later.

Besides singing, Veronica was also an active sportswoman, representing Singapore in tenpin bowling and participating in overseas competitions in Manila, Jakarta, Helsinki, London, among other places. In 1988 she resumed her favourite pastime, singing at Club 5, Plaza Hotel with Ernesto whom she worked with at the Paya Lebar International Airport together with his brother Greg, and subsequently moving on to Act 1, Mandarin Hotel with Penny Lane until late 1989 before she finally migrated to France with her husband. Before she left for France, Veronica recorded a compilation CD album titled “Down Memory Lane” with a mixture of songs by Connie Francis and some other popular artistes from the 1960’s era.

Despite her commitments, she found time to raise two children and she played an active role in raising funds for charity as a member of the Lions Club of Singapore Changi. In 1989 she performed at the Thanks For The Memories Show together with other popular 60s groups like The Checkmates, The Gaylads, The Cyclones, The Trailers, The Thunderbirds, and The Quests, among others. At the same show, Veron paid moving tributes to the late Susan Lim and Shirley Nair by dedicating two of their past hits, “Silver Threads & Golden Needles” and “Too Late for Tears” to them respectively. Although she has been in France for the last 20 years, Veronica still makes periodic trips back to Singapore and has performed to packed audiences at various shows and functions.

In 2004/5 she did three surprise gigs on board the cruise ship “Funchai” from Perth to Bali, the “Athena” in the Baltic Seas that covered places like Amsterdam, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, London, the Norwegian Fjords and Cap North, and finally the “Le Diamond” from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and Santiago along the Chilean Fjords, Cape Horn, back to Ushuaia, the Antarctic and return to Ushuaia again. Words cannot express how fortunate she felt to be given the opportunities to perform gigs on board the three ships. She will always treasure those wonderful memories deep in her heart forever.

Today Veronica still packs a punch when she takes the stage in Singapore and she would often jokingly introduce herself as Veronica Old and not Young anymore. But to us fans, we will always remember her affectionately as Veronica Young from the 60s. Thanks for the music and fond memories, Veronica.

Photo of Veronica Young with The Jets.
Compiled by Vernon Cheong, with thanks to Veronica Young.

27 May 2010.


The 'Secret Lunch' of Old Friends!

A 'secret lunch' meeting was arranged and held on Thursday April 22, 2010 at Plaza Singapura, for a reunion of old good friends, "The QUESTS'" Reggie Verghese, Jap Chong, Lim Wee Guan & Vernon Cornelius, with Robert Suriya, Leader, Guitarist & Composer of "Naomi & the BOYS"!

They hadn't had such a gathering since the mid-1960s, when they frequently used to meet after concerts and gigs, at Clifford Pier Car Park stalls. Robert Suriya, a born-again Christian was in town on some business, and met up with his old buddies from "The QUESTS". Robert now lives in Guam with his family, and where he runs a successful business. He still writes and plays music, but now exclusively for the Christian Church.

Not wanting any publicity, and avoid distraction, they moved clandestinely from place to place, but was last seen at CARL's Jr outlet at B3 Plaza Singapura. However an enthusiastic fan recognized some of them, and this photo which was taken, has been circulating through emails, emerged!

And what did they talk about during the 3-hour meeting? You guessed it, they reminisced of the memorable times in the 1960s Music Scene.


Those Fabulous Quests !

Recently, I had the opportunity of meeting up with some members of "The Quests" to catch up over the good old 60s days. Its been quite sometime since I last met the boys but they were as friendly, cheerful and humble as ever. Everyone looked good and cracked jokes over each other, led by the ever playful Sam Toh. According to the boys, Sam has not changed since the day he joined the group and recorded his first SP as a Quests, Da Doo Ron Ron w/z I'll Be Looking Out For You in 1967.

The fun and laughter days of recording at the EMI studios at McDonald House in Orchard Road with other popular 60s artistes like Rita Chao, Sakura, the late Suyin, among others, were fondly remembered. Sakura was the live-wire while Rita was the calm and charming effect in the studios.

When the conversation moved from Singapore to their Hong Kong days, everyone livened up with their individual favourite tales from the Pearl of The Orient. Those were fun but tired days as the boys worked almost 7-days a week without any rest. They remembered Sam Hui and several members of some of Hong Kong's most popular groups like The Mystics, the lady who serves one of the most delicious porridge by the side lane in Kowloon, the local media that publishes any news about them to increase circulation, an event as mundane as a hair-cut among themselves, or when Jimmy Chan had a simple flu, made front page entertainment news. Even the local taxi drivers recognised them on the roads and there was a Quests Fan Club, headed by a very resourceful young lady, Margie Jon.

At some stage of the lively conversation, there were differing thoughts over the fate of certain musical instruments used by the group at the famed Mocambo Nightclub during those good old days. Eventually, the only point of consensus among the boys was that "It was fun while it lasted...no worries where those instruments are now......haha".

It was indeed a very well spent Sunday afternoon among good buddies and friends. Looking at the latest photo of the boys, one can easily understand the secret behind the success of this great local group from the 60s, they were like a family, looking after each other through the years. And fans like us were their extended family members ! Thanks for the good music and fond memories, guys. Cheers to Life !

(Featured photo from L to R : Front - Reggie Verghese, Sam Toh, Jimmy Chan, Back - Vernon Cornelius, Jap Chong)


The Stylers - Our Songs

For fans who believe in the romance of traditional kampong music from the good old Singapore/Malaysia 60s' days, this album from The Stylers is a "must to listen" ! Appropriately titled Our Songs, there are 14 lovely tracks that would bring fond memories of our Growing Up Years during the 50s & 60s:-

1. Rasa Sayang
2. Impian Semalam
3. Dayang Sampan
4. Sunrise In Malaysia
5. Bengawan Solo
6. Nina Bobo
7. Sapu Tangan
8. Chan Mari Chan
9. Singapura (Our Song)
10. Di Tanjong Katong
11. Potong Padi
12. Bahiera Laju
13. Nona Nona
14. Midnight In Malaya

The Stylers contributed much to the local scene during the 60s with their immense repertoire of songs from instrumentals to vocals in Mandarin, English and a little bit of local dialects occasionally. Recently, I came across two such recordings made by the group during the golden era and would like to share them with fans here. So, crank up your speaks, click on the MP3 tracks and enjoy their original renditions of "Belachan" in English and "I.O.I.O aka Aiyoh, Aiyoh (Casino Song)" in Hokkien. There are lots of local flavour on these two songs. For fans of the recently launched Singapore casino, I.O.I.O is a timely reminder to exercise prudence in your new found hobby on the game of chance and luck. And a big thank you to The Stylers, especially Randy Lee Keng, one of the two original founder members of the group for sharing these two special songs with us. Cheers !


Christmas Wishes from The Quests !

Dear Fans,

Merry Christmas from The Quests comes with a log-cake specially designed by one of their fans HJ Teo in 2007. Members featured in the photo above from left to right were Jap Chong (leader of the band - rhythm guitarist), Samuel Toh (bass guitarist), Jimmy Chan (keyboards), Lim Wee Guan (drums), Reggie Verghese (lead guitarist extra-ordinary) & Vernon Cornelius (lead vocalist).


Singapore 60s - Treasures From The Vault.

As a follow-up to "Singapore 60s - The Definitive Collection", Universal Music just released another album, "Singapore 60s - Treasures From The Vault", featuring more local groups and artistes from that era. Details of the track list are as follows:-

CD 1
1. Mr. Twister - The Crescendos
2. Frankie - The Crescendos
3. 45 RPM - The Checkmates
4. Sylvia - The Checkmates
5. I Don't Want You Around Anymore - Mike & Herb
6. What Can I Do - Mike & Herb
7. Do You Care - Heather & The Diamond Four
8. Hey, Mr. Moon - Heather & The Diamond Four
9. I'll Never Be Mad At You - Wilson David & The Jets
10. Yours - Wilson David & The Jets
11. To Sir With Love - Ernie Djohan & Her Buana Suara
12. Let's Pretend - Ernie Djohan & Her Buana Suara
13. The Unfaithful Kind - Henry Suriya & The Boys
14. It's No Sin (To Love You) - Henry Suriya & The Boys
15. You Better Move On - Katherine & The Firebyrds
16. Yes I've Fallen - Katherine & The Firebyrds
17. Wedding Bells Soon - Ray Johnson & The Diamond Four
18. Help Me Little Girl - Ray Johnson & The Diamond Four
19. Do Re Me - Stevie Loraine & The Clansmen
20. Walk With Me - Stevie Loraine & The Clansmen

CD 2
1. You're The Boy - Shirley Nair with The Silver Strings
2. If You Ever Go - Shirley Nair with The Silver Strings
3. L'Edera - Girvin Sisters with The Dukes
4. Without You - Girvin Sisters with The Dukes
5. You Don't Know, Baby - Teresa Khoo & The Five Notes
6. Unspoken Words - Teresa Khoo & The Five Notes
7. Chains - Alan Lyford with The Thunderbirds
8. Love Me - Alan Lyford with The Thunderbirds
9. The Boy I Love - Aida Mustafa with The Steps
10. Give Me Your Hand - Aida Mustafa with The Steps
11. There'll Never Be - Mark Yun
12. Never Die - Mark Yun
13. Burong Kaka Tua - Marie Tang & The Commancheros
14. Fireball XL 5 - Marie Tang & The Commancheros
15. China Doll - Tom Reyes with The Moonglows
16. Things - Tom Reyes with The Moonglows
17. Singapura - Sandra
18. Sunrise In Malaysia - Boy & His Rollin' Kids
19. Your Cheating Heart - Sonny Bala & The Moonglows
20. Kentucky Waltz - Sonny Bala & The Moonglows

Cheers !


My Recollections Of The Quests

Looking back at the few albums that I have assisted EMI Singapore to compile in the past, this one stands out as my favourite. As a Quests fan since my school days, I have followed the fortunes of the group over the years. Surprisingly, despite being an avid fan, I never had the opportunity to personally meet up with any member of the band until long after they have disbanded !

I still remember the first time I met up with Jap Chong, the leader of the band, about 5 or 6 years ago. It was over lunch at Suntec City, together with Sam Toh and Vernon Cornelius. Besides myself, there were a few other 60s music fans, including the Guru of 60s music Joseph Pereira. My first reaction was......"Wow ! after all these years I finally caught up with some members of the famed Quests." Although I was abit awed by the occasion, Sam Toh made me feel very much at home after the initial introductions. They were all great guys. Since then, I had the honour of meeting up with other members of the band, including the great guitar legend, Reggie Verghese and his predecessor Raymond Leong. The only member I missed out meeting is the late Mr. Peter Richards.

During my younger days, whenever I spinned my old Quests vinyls, I often hoped that someday EMI Singapore would release all their music on CD for the benefit of their fans and also for preservation of such musical treasures from the past. After years of yearning, my opportunity finally came in 2003 when Ms Pearl Wong of EMI contacted me for assistance in compiling an album for The Quests under their "Recollecting" series, as their master tapes were no longer available. EMI had earlier released two albums of this series for Tracy Huang and Francis Yip successfully. Well, I was most glad to oblige with my collection of vinyls, and the first Quests double CD album was released in 2003, featuring most of their hits.

This was followed by a second double CD release in 2004, "Recollecting The Quests Vol. 2 the legend continues..." with an improved packaging. This particular album was very special to me as I was given the opportunity to include most of the songs recorded by the group during those "lost years" when they were performing in Hong Kong. You may term some of these songs as "rare" materials. The album was also a personal triumph for me because I finally succeeded in getting most of their recordings converted from vinyls to CDs, thus offering fans the chance to reminisce about those glory days when we were young. Another comforting thought was the preservation of their music through the years. It was in some ways a closure for me as well, my own way of thanking the boys for helping me shape a part of my life through their music. Thanks for the memories, guys.......

And here are details of the tracklist from my all-time favourite Quests album:-

This Side.

1. Come On And Shout
2. Love Has Gone
3. The Man From Madrid
4. Dum Dum
5. I'm On Top Of The World
6. I Want A Home
7. Mockin' Bird Hill
8. Ding Dong Twist
9. I'll Be Your Man
10. Shanty
11. All My Sorrows
12. Honey House
13. Please Try And Understand
14. Instrumentally Western
15. I'll Be Looking Out For You
16. Come On Down To My Boat
17. What's Wrong With The Way I Live
18. Guantanamera
19. Never Ever
20. I'll Never Fall In Love Again
21. Hur Pi Tzu Shau Shiang
22. The Return Of Spring
23. Sayonara

That Side.

1. La La La Means I Love You
2. A World Of Tomorrows
3. Pop Inn Theme (1968)
4. Gallopin' (1968)
5. What Is Soul ?
6. Sunshine Of Your Love
7. Hey Girl
8. Soul Finger
9. Love Is Blue
10. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
11. Sound Of Silence
12. Proud Mary
13. Traces
14. Time Is Tight
15. I'll Wait A Million Years
16. Don't Forget To Remember
17. When The Clock Strikes Twelve
18. Love At First Sight
19. Holiday
20. The Cage
21. Who'll Stop The Rain
22. American Woman
23. Love And The World Loves With You.

Cheers !


Recollecting Singapore 60s.

EMI & Warner Music has recently re-issued the two Recollecting Singapore 60s albums that were orginally released in 2007. This double CD set is a compilation of 40 tracks by local and regional artistes from the 60s & 70s who recorded under the EMI label.

The artistes featured include The Quests, The Sundowners & The Tornados, The Blackjacks, Matthew & The Mandarins, The Surfers, Asha Puthli, Rita Chao, The Xperiment, Sarah Chen, Straydogs, Frankie Cheah, The New Topnotes, Sugiman Jahuri, Sakura Teng, Pietro Attila & The Warlocks, Tony & Terry, Tania, Western Union Band, Anita Sarawak and Lam Leng.

For those who missed out on these two CDs the first time round, this is a good opportunity to pick them up before its too late. There is also the added bonus of four Christmas songs by The Quests. Something from the past, and yet another collector's item. Cheers to local music from the 60s & 70s !


A Journey Through Local Music

Dear Friends,

Yet another opportunity to travel back in time and listen to local music from the 60s and 70s and more.... Artistes performing on 8th August 2009 at Esplanade Amphitheater include:-

1900 – 1940 hr: Matthew & The Mandarins
2000 – 2040 hr: Robert Fernando & Clement Chow
2100 – 2140 hr: Vernon Cornelius (Lead vocalist of The Quests)
2200 – 2240 hr: Gypsy.

Checkout the Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay website for more details. Cheers.


100 Greatest Singapore 60s - The Definitive Collection

The onset of the Sixties saw Singapore well poised to ride the waves of international pop trends. It had been a scant six years since the first wave of Rock and Roll hit our shores. To the elders it had seemed like the end of civilisation as they knew it. This was youth culture. At once mysterious and alluring. The elders had no part it. The music was for the most part unintelligible but it conveyed its message to the young. Soon a few of the brave were venturing forth creating what they heard on records. Singers, duos and trios abounded. Only a few bands such as The Stompers and Esquires formed before the Sixties loomed.

It was a Cliff Richard and The Shadows concert in Singapore held in November 1961 that opened the floodgates. Suddenly light bulbs popped in more than a few budding Singaporean musicians. The blueprint for a band. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Fronted by a singer. Suddenly bands were forming all over the island and clamoring for gigs wherever they could get it. The entrepreneurs, owners of restaurants and night clubs sensed an economic opportunity. If they could offer venues for the bands to play in that would bring in the punters. They were not slow to follow it through. Venues mushroomed round the island and then tea dances were held over the weekends. To be young in the Sixties was to be spoiled for choice. Shows almost every night and bands and singers by the dozens.

It would not be long before the recording companies would come sniffing. They were skeptical initially. Yes there is a lot of excitement but would it sell. Into the fray entered Philips. They signed Ruby Wah and released an EP which contained Jazz and mainstream oriented material. Respectable sales but no real indicator. Then they decided to take a chance on a vocal quartet fronted by the irrepressible Susan Lim. This was the Crescendos. Their first two releases sold upwards of 25,000 units and hit number one in both Singapore and Malaysia. At that time, Malaysia and Singapore was considered one market and it was not uncommon for a single to be released simultaneously in Singapore and Malaysia and followed by a long haul tour the length and breadth of Malaysia.

Suddenly the gates were swung wide open. Philips decided to go whole hog. Their talent scouts checked out venues and shows all over the island beginning 1964. There was a joke then that the depth of talent in Singapore was so deep that semi finalists of the Radio and Television talentime of that year were being signed. The artistes that you hear on this collection shows that diversity. Philips signed a wider range of talent than other labels. They were not afraid to take a chance on bands playing Rhythm and Blues such as The Cyclones, Bryan Neale, those playing the new fangled Soul such as Denni Wilson and The Commancheros and even emerging psychedelic which peeps out via Clansmen and Stevie Lorraine.

However pop still ruled the roost and artistes such as Naomi and The Boys, Shirley Nair and The Silver Strings, The Thunderbirds, Wilson David, Sonny Bala and The Moonglows, The Dukes with their various singers, Henry Suriya, Veronica Young and Heather provided plenty of releases in that direction. The releases became a flood in 1965 and fans were delirious knowing that each week would bring new releases from Philips. They did not disappoint and soon enough by 1966 had the largest roster of artistes in Singapore. They also entered the Malay and Mandarin market when they realised that Pop Yeh Yeh and Mandarin Pops had their own following.

For a four year period from 1965 to 1968 Philips had a major presence in the Singapore music scene and made names like Naomi Suriya, Shirley Nair, Heather, Thunderbirds, Cyclones, Alan Lyford household names not only in Singapore but also in Malaysia and even in Brunei where some of these acts did shows. This five cd box set of Philips Sixties depicts a time in Singapore's pop music history when the universal fever for pop also reverberated here and the breadth of styles and music played here reflects that diversity. Perhaps a feat never to be repeated.

By Joseph.C.Pereira, Author of "The Legends of the Golden Venus' book


Those Were The Days

Reunion Of The 60's - remember the concert that was held at the Vivocity Amphitheatre in November 08 ? Well, fans of local music from the 60s are in for yet another great treat again ! Another musical trip back in time to those glorious days of the 60's has been scheduled on 23 & 24 July 09 at the Singapore Orchid Country Club. Check out the details on the accompanying poster. Incidentally, these are exciting times for fans of local music....more good news are in store in the coming days. Hang loose guys !

Best Regards,
vernon cheong


My Recollections Of The 60s

Looking back through the years, the 60s was probably one of the most exciting periods for the post-war babies. Some of the events that captured my imagination and left lasting impressions until this day helped shape my life and destiny to a certain extent.

The first pop song that rang in my ears during my early childhood around the late 50s was Fraulein by Bobby Helms. That was also when Rediffusion began to eclipse Radio Singapore as my favorite broadcasting station. At that time, Rediffusion was the rallying point for teenagers who were hungry for western music, culture and more. A very competent and popular group of DJs helped its cause, with the likes of Mike Ellery, Larry Lai, Eric Lim, Peggy Ross, Noreen Sales, among others.

Programs like Top Tunes Of The Week, PO Box 608, British Top 20s, Stars On Wings, and Rediffusion Discovery Show etc. kept most of us glued to the music box day and night. The talentime shows brought some of the best entertainment value, not only during the show proper but also during the audition stages. The potential contestants were required to showpiece their talents to a panel of judges before they could qualify for the competition. There was this guy who probably held a metal plate with a stick, waiting for the signal from the judges to “strike off” contestants in the midst of their performance with a loud “GONG!” I always wonder about the feelings of a 4-piece instrumental group that had spent weeks or months practising their song only to be struck off within a minute or less during their audition. Remember this funny bit?

There was another program entitled “Feuding And Fighting”, hosted by two of the most popular DJs from Rediffusion. Each week there would be a contest between two pop groups or artistes and fans would vote for their favorites, e.g. Beatles vs Rolling Stones, Cliff vs Elvis, and each of the DJ would lend support to one of the two contesting parties. During the program, there would also be some contests where listeners were invited to participate by naming the title or artiste of songs featured and prizes given out to winners were normally the latest LP albums. There was this occasion during an evening show when the DJ announced that the first listener who turned up at the Rediffusion studios at Clemenceau Avenue would receive a gift. Not surprisingly, the winner was someone who turned up in a pair of pajamas! There was also a 15-minute program when listeners were given a chance to be the DJ and got to select his/her own choice of songs. Those were really fun days, thanks to Rediffusion.

When I started my record collection, the first SP that I purchased from a shop along Middle Road was by The Fabulous Echoes of Hong Kong. The titles on that SP were Little Peanut Shell and Waray Waray. Ring a bell to anyone? Don’t think so because both were not hits at all! When the local groups came knocking at the door, Susan Lim & the Crescendos stood out prominently with hits like Mr. Twister, Waktu Fajar, The Boy Next Door, Besame Mucho, and the list went on and on. Don’t Play That Song by Keith Locke & The Quests was a major milestone in local music. The first time I heard the song, I thought it was by a foreign group! Another great vocal recording then was My Lonely Heart by The Thunderbirds. Of course, there were many other great recordings from the local scene, but I shall not attempt to name all of these for the simple reason that I may omit some inadvertently. They were all great tunes from a golden period, rich with local talents and strong support from fans.

Some of the songs that reminded us about the wonderful region we reside in included Singapura by Sandra, Oh Malaya by Anneke Gronloh, Midnight In Malaya & Sunrise In Malaysia by Boy & His Rollin’ Kids, Malaysia Wonderful by The Sundowners & The Tornados etc. Each time I hear any of these songs now, I would try and recall what I was doing during that period in time. A strong sense of nostalgia.

The Xperiments also stood out after my two-year interval from the local pop scene, serving National Service. They were the resident group at the Lost Horizon, Shangri-La Hotel at Orange Grove Road. My colleagues and I frequented the joint despite our meager monthly income of about $280. That’s when I was introduced to the “horns” or brass instruments, listening to songs like Vehicle by the Ides of March, We Got To Live Together by Buddy Miles, and some of the evergreen favorites like Let Me Try Again & Love’s Been Good To Me by Frank Sinatra, If I Could Reach You by Johnny Mathis, After The Lovin’ by Engelbert Humperdinck, among many others.

Besides live performances by local acts at the National Theatre and the Singapore Badminton Hall, there were also the more economical options, like the Musical Express Show at the Capitol and the Early Bird Show at the Odean cinemas. For an admission fee of only $2, you got to enjoy about 2 hours of live entertainment by some of our best local talents such as The Trailers, The Thunderbirds, The Quests, Sakura Teng, Rita Chao, Lara Tan, top comedians like Uncles Wang Sa & Ya Fung, Hamid Bond & Ah Leng, et al.

And there was Sungei Road where you could get second-hand items ranging from radios, magazines, watches, clothes, records etc, anything under the sun! Record stalls were in abundance, carrying local and foreign recording labels. The Mandarin pop culture was more dominant here, loudspeakers blaring out latest releases by The Stylers, The Travellers, Wang Ching Yuen, Lina Lim, Chang Seow Ying, Ling Seow, Suyin, Sakura Teng, Rita Chao, Lara Tan, Lam Leng and more. Among the goodies, there were also bootleg versions, selling at half the price or even less! I picked up several records by local groups and artistes from here, until this day. Time has moved on, but Sungei Road is still the same as it was during the 60s.

Well, these are just a few recollections of my 60's years which I hope would also rekindle your own favorite moments of those times. Do share them with us here. Cheers!

Best Regards,
Vernon Cheong


The Quest To Be The Best

The original duo who formed The Quests -the first local group to record an LP - Jap Chong, the rhythm guitarist, continues to rock the house down with gigs, while Raymond Leong, who played the lead guitar, is now a successful engineer.

"It was our passion and love for music that helped us succeed. Our main aim was to entertain. Also, without the Talentime at Queenstown Technical School all those years ago, there would not be The Quests" - Jap & Raymond.


Singapore 60's

The Internet audience, who has surfed onto this site, may be wondering why the folks here are so passionate about what is referred here as Singapore 60's Pop Music. They may ask, what's so special about these pop songs from the 1960's? Well, friends, since you so kindly asked, let me see if I can give you a little explanation.

To us folks here who grew up in Singapore listening to these pop songs in the 1960's, this genre was the soundtrack of our generation. Most of us were teenagers then, and we lived and breathed this local music during a time in our lives when we, just like the rest of the world then, were being bombarded by the lifestyles and music of the Western world. We're talking Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Beatles, the British Invasion, and also the many great American artistes. Our own local artistes brought something extra to our table. We could not help but be very proud of our own hometown heroes because they proved themselves totally capable of ruling the radio airwaves with the best of the Western world. The Crescendos, The Sundowners, The Quests, The Trailers, Naomi & The Boys, The Jets, The Cyclones, The Thunderbirds, and the list goes on and on.

Now, some friends from the Internet may say that our local singers and bands covered the Western hits a bit too much, that they were essentially copycats. That's not entirely true. Even though it may appear that way on the surface, the heart of the matter is that the Western world introduced to us teenagers a new medium of communication - pop music - and the local artistes quickly proved that they could speak the new language as well as the people who taught us the language. Besides, there were plenty of original made-in-Singapore compositions that became hits.

Along with much of the Far East, Singapore had also suffered horribly during World War II and the Japanese Occupation. After the war ended, and normal life had to be rebuilt, she saw her own post-war baby boom in the late 1940's and early 1950's. It was a very loud boom. And by the 1960's these baby boomers in Singapore were teenagers.The war had changed the world. It had become smaller, so to speak, what with newspapers, radio and television bringing us all together and opening our eyes. The first wave of Singapore baby boomers soaked in the Western influences as hungrily as a sponge absorbs water. The mass media taught us that we had the same rights as any other citizens of this world to claim our fair share of liberty and justice and prosperity for all. There was no stopping us now.

We baby boomers in Singapore in the 1960s also wanted what the teenagers in America and Europe wanted, a better life than what our parents had when they were young.Looking back, the world in the 1960's was ripe and ready to be conquered by Western artistes like Cliff Richard and The Beatles. Their pop music symbolized the new life, the good life, and we all wanted a part of it. We were young, our future was ahead of us, we didn't have to worry about paying the bills, that's for our parents to worry about.

Many new countries in the Far East, including Singapore and Malaysia, became newly-independent in the early 60's, another sure sign that the world was changing rapidly as we left the colonial days behind. We all wanted to break free of many of the old traditions that were holding us back in terms of enjoying life to the fullest. Each new country was striving to instill national pride among their own citizens, especially their young schoolchildren.Fast forward forty years to today. The folks who were teenagers in Singapore in the 1960's are now in their 50's and early 60's. So much has happened in all our individual lives the last four decades, so many memories.

Memories of people, memories of places, memories of events. Some of our loved ones have left us, some of our childhood friends we have not seen in years.One of the best things that can trigger good memories for us instantly is these pop songs from our childhood. That's why to us these are not just pop songs from forty years that come and go casually. Forget musicology. Forget music styles. These songs are truly the soundtrack of our lives.A big thank you to all our local heroes of Singapore 60's Pop Music. You guys were the absolute best, and you have our eternal gratitude and devotion.

To our new Internet friends, thank you for visiting. I hope I have shared in a small way with you why we are such long-time die-hard fans of Singapore 60's Pop Music. For us to deny this music now is to deny our own childhood, our own past, and we cannot do that. - Joe Wu, Seattle WA USA.


Made In Singapore

Picked up this album of local artistes in 1987. The compilation of songs include In A Small Way (Jacintha, Clement, Li Huan & Robert Fernando), The Wedding Song (Angeline), Within You'll Remain (Tokyo Square), One Chance (Lolita), Rejuvenation (Urazea), Roses (Gingerbread), Cold In Buriram (Zircon Lounge), On And On (Jacintha), Love In Any Language (Angeline), Love One Another (Onesimus Principle), Funny (Streetsmart), Rose Rose I Love You (Dick Lee), Only The Lonely (Matthew Tan) and We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Hangloose).