Keith Locke & The Quests

Keith Locke was popular enough to front The Quests in one of their greatest hits, Don't Play That Song (You Lied). Although his association with the group was relatively short, Keith managed to churn out several original recordings with them. They recorded 10 songs together, starting with Don't Play That Song (You Lied), Be My Girl, Push-Push, That You Are Mine, I'm on Top of The World, I Want A Home, Mockingbird Hill, Earth Angel, You Talk Too Much and Lonely Street.

When Keith met The Quests for the first time during a gig, he was a guest singer and belted out Runaway and A Hundred Pounds Of Clay. The boys were impressed....and the rest is history.


JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

I still remember very vividly how much I was awestruck by the voice of Keith Locke when he and The Quests came out with their very first song in 1965, "Be My Girl." Within a short time, of course, the popularity of this song would be greatly overshadowed by the flipside of that same SP, "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," but for a while, "Be My Girl" was the explosive introduction of Mr. Dynamite to many of us young impressionable Quests fans at that time.

In hindsight, looking back 43 years now, "Be My Girl" was really a simple song, very easy to sing to, but its simplicity only greatly accentuated the raw talent and animal sex appeal of Keith Locke, which is why to this day I am still a devotee of the Keith Locke cult.

Yes, we now see "Don't Play That Song" as a much more sophisticated musical creation than "Be My Girl," but it was the faster and more upbeat tempo of "Be My Girl" that carried the day for Keith Locke and Questsmania in 1965. And I know those were The Quests boys singing all the "yeah, yeah's."

Keith only recorded 10 songs with The Quests in their two years of collaboration, and then he was called back to England. Only 10 songs, but what an amazing legacy he left behind.

Although he was technically not a member of The Quests, he will forever be an integral part of the legend of The Quests only because he made such great records with the band that we all still love and listen to today.

As much as I like Keith's songs like "Don't Play That Song," "I'm On Top Of The World," and "That You Are Mine," it will always be "Be My Girl" that always makes me think of Rediffusion in 1965.

So easy to sing to... Crank up the bass, everybody!!


Come on and dance (yeah, yeah)
Come on and dance (yeah, yeah)
Come on and hold me tight
Each and every night
Come on and Be My Girl

Come on and walk with me (yeah, yeah)
We want the world to see (yeah, yeah)
Come on and hold me tight
Each and every night
Come on and Be My Girl

Nobody knows, nobody cares
I look at you, you look at me
I see you smile and I want you
To Be My Girl

Come on and say you're mine (yeah, yeah)
Until the end of time (yeah, yeah)
We're gonna dance all night
I'm gonna hold you tight
Come on and Be My Girl

burp said...

its odd ... so little information on keith locke on the web ... all i see are bits of info on another keith locke .. a politician

id like to have watched him perform live.. i have heard some of his tunes on a CD and here is a degree of soul in his tunes, but moi as usual cant match titles and tunes haha

you know what Joe ? this is OT but i think you would have enjoyed the recent concert at the lau pa sat where vernon cornelius sang

who am I ? Think of cow heh 8-)


Vernon Cheong said...

Keith was in a class of his own and has his unique style of singing both fast n slow numbers. Personally, I prefer his slower numbers, my fav being "That You Are Mine". I also recall one other song that he sang during a live show on Redifussion...dunno the title but there was a line that goes .."I saw your photo hanging on the wall of my best friend's home.." It's a pity that this was not recorded on wax !

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

This has never really happened to me in real life, but I’m a’thinking that it just can’t be good when you have to say these words to someone you really like, "I saw your photo hanging on the wall of my best friend's home.." Ouch!!!

It has always been a mystery to me that Keith Locke totally disappeared after he was called back to England in 1967. Come to think of it, why no other Keith Locke records before and after his time with The Quests boys in Singapore? Furthermore, why didn’t Keith Locke ever come back to visit Singapore after he left in 1967? You know, give a concert or two. There are still a lot of Keith Locke fans in Singapore, I’m sure.

I have heard from some reliable sources that Keith Locke died in a car crash in England fifteen or twenty years ago. Even if he was still alive twenty years ago, that would be 1988. So where was he between 1967 and 1988? No one seems to know.

Maybe he became a secret agent. Like Bond, James Bond. Maybe Keith is still alive today, but he just can’t quite come out and sing, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” again.

Jane said...

Hey Joe, you are absolutely right... there are many who are the die hard fans of Keith Locke & The Quests. And to me they are still the best local group for sure. Years come and go but their songs will always stay close to my heart and am sure there are also die hard fans out there too. My first EP album "Don't Play That Song You Lied" along with 3 other songs - I save & scrimp every pocket money just to buy that EP album. Crazy?? Call me crazy but definitely take one to really appreciate good songs. Inspite of all these years, it's still in excellent condition! To this date, I'm still spinning their albums. Keith Locke & The Quests are really amazing. Cheers for them :)

Thanks Joe & Vernon for all your hard work in providing all those fantastic info. Many thanks for bringing back those good old memories of yester years. You guys are really GREAT! Much thanks.


JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Ever wonder what Keith Locke did right after he left The Quests and moved back to England in 1966?

According to this webpage on the Internet, Roger Smith, a former member of this band in Newcastle called The Jazzboard, recalled:

"In January 1967 we met a Jamaican soul singer called Keith Locke who had moved from the Far East to Newcastle. Keith had a number of hits in Singapore and Malaysia in 1965 and 1966 with a band called The Quests. He was hoping to launch a new career in England and needed a backing band. The Jazzboard, fronted by Keith was to be renamed Keith Locke and the All Stars. After a month of rehearsals the band was ready to take off but then Keith just disappeared as quickly as he came and we never saw him again. The Quests are still big in the Far East and can be seen performing on YouTube."

Keith Locke and The Jazzboard?

You can check out this website yourself. Keith Locke and The Quests are featured in the middle of this webpage.


Joe Wu,
Always on the trail of the great Keith Locke

Rach said...

Dear Joe,

News of immense interests to all fans of the great Keith Locke, thanks. Its a pity that he did not took off with the new band. Otherwise, we may be enjoying more of his recordings today. I always enjoy listening to Keith's songs, be it fast or slow numbers. He was such a talented singer and nobody could have done "Don't Play That Song" better than the man himself, not even Ben E King's original version or that from Aretha Franklin.

The Quests' owe much to Keith for launching them as a vocal group although they were already an established instrumental group before Keith came along, thanks to EMI Singapore.

Wherever you are Keith, we will always remember you for your contributions to our golden years of local music. regards.


Anonymous said...


Does anyone have a copy or a link to the song "Push Push" by The Quests?


Anonymous said...

"Push Push" was a Keith Locke original, accompanied by The Quests. That was a new dance which Keith created locally. The back-up duo were probably Jap and Reggie. Another great song from the Jamaican legend.

Hi Vernon - would appreciate if you could include this song on the blog please ? Thanks.


Pamela said...

Its a great pity that Mr. Dynamite, aka Keith Locke did not cut an LP with The Quests during his short stay in Singapore.

Someone told me that Keith was working for RAF Tengah during the 60s and he also met Keith personally when both of them were serving detention periods in the same camp after he went on AWOL with the Quests on a concert tour of Malaysia. It seems that Keith left Singapore after that episode.

What would have happened if The Quests had left for UK with Keith instead of going to Hong Kong ? They could have made it big there and created history for a Singapore group. So far, none of our local groups made it in the international scene while a few singers did came close over the last few years.

Given Keith's talents, complemented with the support from an equally talented group of musicians who made-up the Quests in Hong Kong, they could have changed history, if only....

We will always remember Keith Locke, and will always be on his trail as Joe Wu has mentioned. He was one of the best who graced the local scene. Thanks for the music and memories.

Fond Memories of Keith Locke,

carina said...

Dear Friends,

The Quests were not in Hong Kong by default, they were head-hunted by one of our top nightclubs here.

The Welcoming Party when the Quests touched down in Hong Kong in Dec 67 on the Cathay Pacfic jet included one Mr Sam Hui, top Cantonpop superstar.

They did not come here for a vacation, they meant business from their first show. Although they were initially scheduled to be at the Mocambo for only 3 months, but their contract was extended repeatedly due to their popularity until the boys had enough of Hong Kong. Guess they were homesick by October 68.

By then, they had already established a big following here and had their own fan club, something which was amiss back home. They had a No. 1 hit song, Mr Rainbow, on our local charts within a few months of their arrival.

Do we need any more convincing that it was the right choice to be here instead of elsewhere ? I'm sure the boys still have fond memories of their days here, appearing regularly on local TVB and Sam Hui's Shows.

After they returned to Singapore in Oct 68, Mocambo's Management appealed for them to return again in January 69 for another 7 months before they finally called it a day.

If only they had stayed on in Hong Kong..they would have written yet another chapter in the history of Singapore Pop Music...

Thanks for being a part of us..Jap Chong, Reggie Verghese, Sam Toh, Lim Wee Guan, Jimmy Chan and Vernon Cornelius. Those memories were cast in stone for many Hong Kong fans here. Take care.

love you all,

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Vernon Cornelius also made some rich history and beautiful music with The Quests. “Roller Coaster Man,” “Mr. Rainbow” and his version of “Don’t Play That Song” are how I have introduced Vernon Cornelius to my American friends. Where there are different versions, you can tell how much the vocals and the instrumentals of the band improved with maturity.

Looking back, I fully respect and appreciate all of the history of The Quests. The legend of The Quests is what it is. Whatever happened with The Quests as they excelled and conquered the arenas of Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong pop music happened. Today, when we all look back, there is no need for any regrets or what if’s.

Both Keith Locke and Vernon Cornelius have left their indelible marks in the history of The Quests. In 1965 Keith Locke helped to solidify the emerging prominence and expand the potential of the band with his deep and soulful voice. Keith Locke and The Quests together was a very successful collaboration, and they recorded 10 memorable songs together. Keith Locke is an integral part of the history of The Quests.

Likewise, today you cannot talk about the history of The Quests without talking about Vernon Cornelius. A different voice from Keith Locke, yet Vernon Cornelius was every bit a most dynamic and significant contributor to the long string of fabulous recordings that the band churned out during their time together.

Members of the group came and went through the years. In 1966 Keith Locke went back to England, which gave Vernon Cornelius the chance to be a member of the band. In 1967 Henry Chua left the band for further studies, and that opened up the opportunity for Sam Toh to be their bassist. Jimmy Chan also joined the band, and both Sam and Jimmy played a big part in transforming The Quests musically from their young days of “Shanty” and “Tea Break” to the more worldly-wise “Mr. Rainbow” and “The Indian Maid.”

I’m not saying one era was better than another. I’m only saying that there were some clear and distinct eras in the history of The Quests. Changes in personnel and maturation will always do that to any band. And, of course, the ever changing music fads and times.

The Quests spent some time in Hong Kong between 1968 and 1970, and reports are that they did mighty well over there. The Hong Kong era is a very big chunk of the history of The Quests. In my communications with members of the band who went to Hong Kong, I got the distinct impression that everyone still has very fond memories of those days, and they made a lot of good friends over there among the Hong Kong pop stars. No regrets, no what if’s.

Me sitting in Seattle, so faraway from my childhood home, and decades removed from those carefree, innocent days, I still take great joy in pursuing both Keith Locke and Vernon Cornelius whenever I can today. They were my big heroes when I was growing up. Keith Locke is like a mythical figure from my past. Vernon Cornelius, I have corresponded with, and it was a very exciting day for me two years ago when I received a photo montage of The Quests that was autographed by all The Quests, with the exception of the late Peter Richards. And the late Keith Locke. Vernon Cornelius was the one who inscribed my name on the photo montage.

Life is too short for prolonged regrets and what if’s. Let us always enjoy the musical legacy of The Quests. Thanks for the great memories, boys.

Vernon Cheong said...

Dear Friends,

Push Push has been uploaded on this blog by popular demand. This one is specially dedicated to all fans of 60s local music.

Cheers !

Anonymous said...

Hi Vernon,

Thanks for giving us another chance to "Push-Push"! When we were young, its the chance to bump into each other with this song, home parties during Dec school holidays.

Joe Wu - tks for your perfect blog about the Quests. Yes, most of them excelled in their own ways, especially Reg & Jimmy who continued to make recordings on their own. Interesting that some of the musicians who teamed up with Jimmy on his albums included established names like Patrick Seet, Tony Zee, Ho Chong Weng and even Larry Lai ! Regards.


JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

[Sharing with all fans of Keith Locke.]

November 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Roger Smith,

Greetings from Seattle, Washington, USA.

Recently, while surfing the web, I came across your webpage that recalls your brief encounter with a Mr. Keith Locke back in 1967.


Although I have been living in Seattle since 1968, I was born in Singapore and I grew up there until I left in 1968. At the time Cliff Richard and The Shadows and then Beatlemania and everything English and American pop and rock music conquered the world in the 1960's, I was a young teenager in Singapore living the good old days.

Western pop and rock influenced and inspired the local folks to imitate, and thereby a local music genre that we Singaporeans now look back and refer to fondly as "Singapore 60's Pop Music" was born and quickly started evolving.

There was a guitar instrumental band called The Quests whose original composition of "Shanty" hit #1 on the Singapore and Malaysia charts in 1964, to be quickly followed by another original composition of "Tea Break" that also hit #1 in 1965. When they started out, The Quests played like The Shadows and The Ventures.

In 1965 Keith Locke hooked up with The Quests, and together they became the top local vocal and instrumental band of the region. A series of records were released, and Keith Locke and The Quests' signature song was "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" from 1965, a cover of the great Ben E. King hit.

Keith Locke only recorded 10 songs with The Quests, and because he went AWOL so he could tour with The Quests in Singapore and Malaysia, the British army came looking for him, eventually detained him, and then sent him back to England in 1966.

Those two years, 1965 through 1966, and those 10 songs with The Quests have established Keith Locke as a giant figure, an icon in the history of Singapore 60's Pop Music. Forty-plus years later, the stature of Keith Locke is still as glorious as ever, a legend now, and he still has plenty of die-hard fans in Singapore.

MR. ROGER SMITH, MY PURPOSE IN CONTACTING YOU NOW is to see if you have any additional recollections of Keith Locke from your brief encounter with him in 1967.

Here's the situation. When Keith Locke left Singapore in 1966, he was at the height of his fame and popularity in Singapore and Malaysia, and he did not ever come back to Singapore to give any reunion concerts or appearances. His die-hard fans are hungry to know what happened to him after he left Singapore. We do not really know much about this legend, other than a few facts, like he's a Jamaican and he smoked.

I have been in contact with some members of The Quests, and someone told me that he had heard that Keith Locke had died in a car accident many years ago. There has been no verification of this matter anywhere on the Internet that I could find.

That was why the Keith Locke information on your webpage intrigues me so much. Your webpage is one of the very few that mention a personal encounter with Keith Locke. For your information, I have also blogged about your webpage at this fans' website.


Any more information that you could share with us about your time with Keith Locke in 1967 would be greatly appreciated by us die-hard fans. I will share with them.

Two years ago I uploaded a slideshow of Keith Locke and The Quests on YouTube, featuring their signature song, "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)."


Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Smith.

Wishing you all the best,

Joe Wu
Seattle, Washington, USA

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

[Response regarding Keith Locke.]

November 9, 2009

Hello Joe

Greetings from Trowbridge, Wiltshire in the UK.

Thanks for your email. I was very interested to read about Keith's career in Singapore and the circumstances in which he had to return to the UK. It has been 42 years since my involvement with Keith. Apart from a couple of diary entries, the newspaper cutting and the green pamphlet on the website, I have only the memories of what happened back then. This is what I remember: -

The Jazzboard’s manager in 1966 was a large man called Bert Lowes who was also the singer’s father. He came into contact with Keith Locke sometime in November or December 1966, probably at one of Jazzboard’s gigs. Bert must have spent a couple of weeks talking to Keith about the possibility of joining forces before he let the rest of the band know.

The first time that the band and I met Keith was either at the very end of December 1966 or in the first week of January 1967. He was with a guy whose name I can’t recall. I vaguely knew him because he had been a guitarist in several Newcastle bands over the years. He did most of the talking about Keith’s career, his singing ability, the band’s image and the type of music the new band would play. He told us that Keith had had several hit records in Singapore but I’m almost certain that the Quests weren’t mentioned. The only thing that I remember Keith talking about passionately was his need for a car. He proposed that as soon as the new band got started he wanted money to buy himself a vehicle. Not just any old car – he wanted a new Corsair, which was one of Ford’s upper range models in the UK at that time.

I’m not sure why Keith chose Newcastle to try and make his name as a singer in the UK. Most Newcastle musicians left the area and went to London if they wanted any success in the music business.

The Jazzboard’s instrumental line-up in January 1967 was tenor sax, organ, bass and drums. We didn’t have a guitarist so the plan was that Keith’s guitarist friend would also join us. Our existing singing, Bruce Lowes, would provide back-up vocals and also play alto sax. The intention was to practise throughout January and start playing as ‘Keith Locke and the All Stars’ from February 1967. We would initially be playing covers of American soul hits by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Solomon Burke and the like. At this particular time one of the biggest club/dance hall bands in the UK was 'Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band', a black singer with a white backing band. We decided to emulate Geno’s act by starting the performance with two instrumental numbers before Keith hit the stage. The two tunes selected were ‘Bootleg’ by Booker T and the MGs and ‘You Can’t sit down’ by the Phil Upchurch combo.

My old diary shows that we started rehearsing with Keith on 3rd January 1967. We rehearsed for several weeks in New Herrington but then something I am not aware of happened that caused us to part company. I can only guess what caused the break up. I think there was a lot of tension between our singer, Bruce and his father, Bert. Bert had been responsible for bringing Keith and the Jazzboard together. Had Keith Locke and the All Stars become successful then Bruce would have been relegated to the role of backing vocalist/musician and would have lost his place as a front man. Bruce was a man with a big ego and I don’t think he really wanted to take back seat. In retrospect, it wouldn’t have been a bad price to pay for instant success, but at the time Jazzboard were one of the top bands in the Newcastle area and we all thought that we would eventually make it in our own right. There was also a conflict of interest regarding the Jazzboard’s existing bookings. Keith and his friend wanted us to cancel everything and concentrate on the rehearsals. No one in the band wanted to do this so we kept on going as the Jazzboard.

[Concluded in next part because of maximum number of characters and spaces allowed per message here. - JW]

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...


So there you have it - February came and we never saw or heard from Keith again.

At the time I hadn’t realised how big Keith had been in Singapore. It was only in the last couple of years when I was doing the research for the Ready Steady Gone website that I found out about his career with the Quests.

I don’t know if you have seen these pages: -



I’m pretty sure these relate to Keith in 1969. If so, it looks as if he moved to London after his period in Newcastle.

Kind regards


Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,

Thanks for sharing the news about Keith Locke. I'm sure it would interest alot of his fans although many of us would probably read it with a twinge of sadness.

warm regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,

Its me, Jet. I'm very amazed with your impressive network of overseas friends. After all the years, you still managed to unearth news about Mr Dynamite, probably the best vocalist during our 60s local music revolution.


diamondstar_6 said...

Hi, This is going to sound weird but ... Im Keiths son.
Due to circumstances between my mother and Keith, I haven't had anything to do with him since i was 2 years old.
My mother recently passed away and although i never had any urges to find out about him, now that she's gone Im kind of curious about him and his life... so any news or info would be appreciated.
I know i have a half brother, who i last saw as we sat on a sofa in London when i had my accident. So any news on Keith??
Kevin John Leigh Lingburgh Locke

KevLoc said...

Its me again, well i can see that there's some interest in regards as to what happened to Keith when he returned to the UK. I've read alot about his life with the Quests and its been great. Thanks to all who have posted here, its great getting to know more about my dad.
I'll do my best to fill in what information i have, most of which was told to me by my mother.I'd heard about the Quests from her and about the fact that he went AWOL and then returned to the UK, he did indeed move to Newcastle
and must still have been there in early 1969 as i was born in Newcastle December 68. He had by then married my mother Jacqueline Short, who was 20 years old at the time.
They moved to London soon afterwards and i know Keith was in a band with Roscoe G, who remained a good friend of my mother and myself. I have only vague memories of these times in London but i do remember some Singaporean musicians, but unfortunately not much else.
My mother and i moved abroad when i was still very young and we didn't keep in touch.
Roscoe is well and living in Germany, still in the music scene.

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Dear Kevin Locke,

I would LOVE to see a photo of you with your dad, the great Keith Locke. Any chance of you sending that to me at the following address?


I'd really appreciate it, and I will find a way to share it with all of Keith Locke's fans here.

Keith Locke really touched a whole generation of fans in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1960's. Here we are, 45 years later, and we're still talking about the man with great affection and respect.

Thank you, Kevin.

Sincerely yours,
Joe Wu

stevekay said...

My memories of Kieth and the Quests was from around 1965 when I was a boy in Singapore.I was a singer in a local band called The Jaguars and we appeared on the Omen Jacobs radio show along with Keith and Benny and the Trailers.
They were all a bunch of great guys and fine musicians.I would really like to get in touch with the ex members of the Jaguars but had no luck as yet.Still ,happy memories of playing the National Theatre all those years ago.

Anonymous said...

Dear all

What if I tell you that Keith Locke is in town? Would you believe me?

Yes, indeed he is in town. And he may be gigging as a guest in some night spots here.

Let me know if you want to hear more about him.

Best regards

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Yes, Vince, we believe you. Imagine the disbelief when the news broke out among friends in October last year that Keith Locke had resurfaced after over 40 years of complete silence. Some of us had heard that the man had died in a car crash in the UK many years ago. Initially, everyone thought this person who claimed to be Keith Locke was a fake, but the man did show up in Singapore and he spent some time with old friends. Best regards to everyone.

Larrynivram said...

From The Forest of Dean, UK
Even further back!!
Fascinated to hear about Keith Lock I often wondered what happened to him. I missed his career completely. I first new him as a radio operator in the RAF based at the time in Penang. This was in 1961.
There was at the time another serviceman way down in Singapore called Ferni Bishop who was doing great. As was the first ever rock band in North Malaya called ‘The Strangers’ who went on to do the Miss Malay Contest in KL. Keith had ambitions of becoming a singer.
The interesting thing was that Keith had, at the time, a slight speech impediment and we often remarked that although in general chat he stuttered but as soon a he got on the radio he didn’t miss a beat.
Seems that this was true with other microphones.
When I knew him he was coming to the end of his tour in Penang and as he was with a local girl wanted to come back. We talked often about the fact that it seemed unfair that people in the service were often posted abroad without wanting to go and others who wanted to go could not. He had written to the powers that be in UK and was awaiting a reply. He went back to UK and I see that he go his wish, in fact he go both hi wishes.
Good to see he did so well.

KevLoc said...

Hello everyone, My name is Kevin Locke and I'm Keiths son. Unfortunately I never had a relationship with him but the reasons for that are irrelevant. Later on in life when i started to try to find him, i eventually came across this site and was led to believe that Keith had died in a car accident some 20 odd years ago. However I,ve just found a couple postings on You Tube of Keith and presumably some of the Quests members although not sure who the others are, of a reunion in Singpapore in December 2011.... Yepp December 2011.
So if anyone has any information that mighht lead to me contacting Keith I'd appreciate it very much.
Direct mail is: kevloc@hotmail.co.uk

Thank you all

Quinn said...

I'm just a young kaypoh singaporean girl, fascinating with how it was in the 60's music scene here! And i came across this article about keith locke.

Looks like he's alive and these singaporean crooners know him - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIMUZN0FxdU

Why don't you guys contact the uploader of this video and maybe get in touch with keith?