2008/07/25

Those Fabulous Echoes

Those Fabulous Echoes, featuring Cliff Foenander, Stanley Robertson, Tony and Danny Ruivivar, Terry Lucido Jr and Bert Sagum. Together, they recorded several great hits like Dancing On The Moon, Sunshine, I Know, A Little Bit Of Soap, Carmen Twist, Loop De Loop, Baby Elephant Walk, and many others.

Over the years, the group has shifted their base from Hong Kong to Honolulu, Hawaii and lately, Las Vegas, USA. Today, the group is known as The Society Of Seven, with two of its original members, leader Tony Ruivivar, Bert Sagum, and five other talented musicians, still performing to full houses.

13 comments:

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

The Fabulous Echoes from Hong Kong were exactly what their name said they had to be. Fabulous!!

The Fab Echoes, as they were also called, were another big reason why I always muse that the early 1960's was the best time of my life in Singapore. I was hooked on them the very first time I heard "A Little Bit Of Soap" on Rediffusion. What a great pop masterpiece that song was, a timeless classic that still sounds as fresh today as it did forty-five years ago.

I quickly learned that the boys were from Hong Kong, that four of the group members were Filipinos, the bass player was from Scotland, and their lead vocalist, Cliff Foenander, was from Ceylon. I recall wondering even then why this group, being from Hong Kong, had no Chinese bandmember.

Because of "A Little Bit Of Soap," I found myself always looking forward to every new Fab Echoes record that came along. And the boys did not disappoint me. Even though they really did not release a ton of records, what a string of memorable hits they had for a couple of years in the early and mid-1960's. "Dancing On The Moon," "Sunshine," "Baby Elephant Walk," "Carmen Twist," "I Know," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and the song that stole the hearts of young pretty girls everywhere, "The Wedding."

I always wished I could sing like Cliff Foenander. I remember working very hard to sing "A Little Bit Of Soap" and "The Wedding" just like how Cliff sang on their records. All the way down to the pathetic sobs in "The Wedding." Man, was I pitiful.

For the younger generations in Singapore who may not know this, The Fabulous Echoes were very, very big in Singapore in the early and mid-1960's. Hong Kong might have claimed the boys as their favorite sons, but Singapore also adopted The Fabulous Echoes as our own. After all, most of the group members were Filipinos, and the front man was from Ceylon. They all looked like they could be Singaporeans, yes?

It is my opinion that The Fabulous Echoes, The Blue Diamonds, Anneke Gronloh, Boy and His Rollin' Kids, Sandra Reemer, all of them, they are all very deserving of induction into the Singapore 60's Pop Music Hall Of Fame because of the special inspiration they gave to our own local future stars. They all showed our future Crescendos, Sundowners, Quests, Trailers, Naomi & The Boys, The Thunderbirds, The Cyclones, et al, that we Asians could make pop music just as stellar as the recording stars from England and the United States could. It was always an extra special thrill for us Singapore fans to hear our local stars on Rediffusion competing and keeping up with the English and the American stars on radio shows like "Top Tunes Of The Week" and also the radio shows that played requests and dedications.

Flash forward to today. The old Fabulous Echoes from the past are no more. Several of the members from their hitsmaking days in the 1960's have passed away. Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum have evolved into Society Of Seven, now headlining in Las Vegas a big part of the year, and also doing a few concert tours when they are taking a break from Vegas.

Unfortunately for all fans of The Fab Echoes, Society Of Seven does not integrate any Fab Echoes songs in their show. Tony Ruivivar told me once, "Hang on to your Fabulous Echoes records, they are collector's items now."

For those interested, I have uploaded the early history of The Fabulous Echoes in three parts at YouTube, and I invite you to watch the video clips.

Everytime I hear the "Soap" song, it's a very good flashback to the good old days...

"A Little Bit of Soap will wash away your lipstick on my face,
A Little Bit of Soap will never, never, never ever erase
The pain in my heart and my eyes as I go through the lonely years,
A Little Bit of Soap will never wash away my tears."

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

This is for all fans of The Fabulous Echoes.

I just came across this article from November, 2007, at the World Music Central website. It does not mention my name, but I am personally tickled pink that the writer (asiaradionews) is of the opinion that YouTube has caused a revived interest in Cliff Foenander.

Remembering Cliff Foenander of the Fabulous Echoes

Cliff Foenander was one of Sri Lanka's great musicians. He was King of the 'crooners' in 1950s and 1960s Ceylon. Foenander had a passion for music and he was determined to succeed in life. He reached the dizzy heights of stardom - not only in Sri Lanka but right across South and South East Asia, and even the United States of America.

Sri Lanka remember's Cliff Foenander - his 7th death anniversary falls on the 21st of November 2007 - he passed away in Australia. Recently, thanks to You Tube there has been a real revival of music connected with Sri Lanka's first international star, Cliff Foenander. Thousands have logged on to youtube to hear The Fabulous Echoes. The whole history of The Fabulous Echoes is also on You Tube. The Fabulous Echoes featured Bert Sagum, Tony Ruivivar, Terry Lucido, Stan Robertson, Danny Ruivivar and Cliff Foenander.

Foenander was a pioneer - one of his earliest hits was 'Butterfly in the Rain' composed by the great singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis. Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia discovered Cliff Foenander. The legendary Radio Ceylon announcers Vernon Corea, Tim Horshington, Livy Wijemanne, Jimmy Bharucha, promoted his music throughout the late 1950s and 1960s on the airwaves of the radio station. Radio Ceylon was 'King of the Airwaves' in South Asia and Cliff Foenander's music was played to the huge audience on the Indian sub-continent. He had a succession of number one hits in South Asia as a result of the exposure on Radio Ceylon.

Foenander's big break came along when he joined one of the hottest acts in Hong Kong, 'The Fabulous Echoes.' They had a massive hit with 'A Little Bit of Soap' in 1964 released on Diamond Records - they enjoyed 25 weeks in the Number one position in the Hong Kong Charts. 'A Little Bit of Soap' was a huge hit in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Cliff Foenander and The Fabulous Echoes had a string of hits, among them - 'Dancing on The Moon,' 'Sukiyaki,' 'Cry,' 'Another Saturday Night,' 'Another Romance,' 'I know,' 'The Wedding,' 'Skip to My Lou, 'Sunshine,' 'Way Back When,' 'Mashed Potato,' 'It Won't be Long,' 'Day By Day,' 'This Land is My Land.'

As a result of their huge hit 'A Little Bit of Soap' among a string of hits in South East Asia, The Fabulous Echoes were invited to play Las Vegas. Cliff Foenander and the group were playing with the greats - The 'rat pack,' Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior who were performing in Las Vegas at the time in the early 1960s - they performed with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Pat Boone among a whole host of stars.

One evening Cliff Foenander sang a song to a lady in the audience, she like The Fabulous Echoes so much that she told her husband. He happened to be the great Ed Sullivan who also liked their style and sound. He signed them up for two shows and Ceylon's Cliff Foenander was seen by an audience of 45 million viewers. Foenander was at the very top with the Fabulous Echoes. They were a hit in Las Vegas.

To hear Cliff Foenander sing the number one hit of The Fabulous Echoes: 'A Little Bit of Soap,' please type in 'Cliff Foenander' on you tube: http://www.youtube.com. To hear the song 'Sukiyaki' go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqDAGV0TSng.

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To locate this article at World Music Central, click on:
http://worldmusiccentral.org/article.php/remembering_cliff_foenander

CLARANTHA PERERA said...

As a Sri lankan please accept my appreciation for the kind words you have penned about Cliff Foenander. Yeah he was great though hardly appreciated in Sri lanka

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Dear Coffee,

I’m not sure if your question was directed to me or to Joseph Pereira, but I’ll answer, anyway, in The Fabulous Echoes thread.

The Fabulous Echoes of “Dancing On The Moon,” “A Little Bit Of Soap,” “The Wedding” and all their other unforgettable hits on Diamond Record label in the 1960’s transformed themselves into Society Of Seven after they migrated to Waikiki Beach in 1969. Society Of Seven today only has two members left who were members of The Fabulous Echoes, Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum. All other members of the old Fab Echoes have either passed away or left the group in the last 30 years.

If you are fortunate enough to see Society Of Seven, you will quickly realize that the two groups are like two different bands, The Fab Echoes being a pop band in the 1960’s and SOS being a nightclub showband that caters to the vacationers in Waikiki Beach and Las Vegas today.

There is no mention of The Fabulous Echoes in the SOS nightclub act. Only the fans of The Fabulous Echoes will remember their pop records from the 1960’s. Especially with the departure of their irreplaceable lead vocalist Cliff Foenander, circa 1966 or 1967, The Fab Echoes have been defunct since then.

All of the old Diamond Record releases of The Fab Echoes are long out of print and unavailable anywhere, except for second hand record stores and eBay.

Universal Music Hong Kong now owns the rights to Diamond Record, and they have been releasing compilation CD box sets that include various artistes, including the old Fabulous Echoes. However, so far we are only seeing the same six or seven same old Fabulous Echoes hit songs. Still waiting eagerly for Universal Music HK to produce an exclusively Fabulous Echoes anthology box set.

Society Of Seven’s official website:
http://www.societyofseven.com/

You can also see some black-and-white video clips of The Fabulous Echoes at YouTube from the good old days.

Best regards from one Fab Echoes fan to another,
Joe Wu

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July 10, 2009 3:25 AM

Coffee said...

Dear Joe,

Could I ask you a question? I hope you can help, it's about Fabulous Echoes - Dancing on the moon, I already knew the song writer name, but do you know that how can find them? Or they are belong to which music company? Thanks a lot!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Coffee,

Further to Joe's response to your post, there was a 4-CD box set issued by Universal Music Hong Kong in 2006, a great compilation of music from our own local groups from the 60s. In it, there are 5 tracks from The Fabulous Echoes:-

A Little Bit Of Soap
Dancing On The Moon
You've Lost That Loving Feeling
Hang On Sloop and
The Wedding.

There are also 5 bonus tracks by Kong Ling with The Fabulous Echoes:-

I've Told Every Little Star
Yum Yum Cha Cha
Moon River
Sukiyaki and
South Pacific Twist.

Check it out. Maybe the box-set is also available in Singapore.

Carina Yip

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

For sure, for sure, one of my prized possessions is that 2006 "Diamond Record's Best Selections" Compilation 4-CD box set that Carina Yip mentioned. Thank you, Universal Music Hong Kong, for making a first-class production out of this. It is truly a "great compilation of music" (as Carina says). From Hong Kong's best on Diamond Record label in the 1960's.

It also has a mini-poster of the record covers involved, and a sharp-looking booklet. The English lyrics are in the booklet, but the liner notes are in Chinese. Still waiting for someone kind to translate to English so I can better enjoy the booklet. But the music is divine!

It was precisely because of the inclusion of The Fabulous Echoes in this box set that I just had to buy it from the Internet in 2006. Kong Ling was a special bonus because she was accompanied by The Fab Echoes on several tracks. The other Hong Kong artistes were all stellar, Teddy Robin and The Playboys, Joe Junior, The Zoundcrackers, The Side Effects, The Lotus, The Mystics, Anders Nelson, Michael Remedios, and others, but I was a die-hard Fab Echoes fan all the way.

Looking back, I consider myself most fortunate to have spent four months in Hong Kong, starting end of June and through October, 1968. Too bad I did not know at that time that The Quests were also in Hong Kong then. In any case, I seriously doubt the strict and conservative relatives with whom I was staying would have allowed this young boy to check out Reggie, Jap, Wee, Vernon, Sam and Jimmy at the Mocambo Club.

During this four months in Hong Kong, this homesick and lonely kid found life away from Singapore a little bearable by listening to Hong Kong 60's Pop Music on the radio, both English and Chinese (meaning Cantonese). I liked Joe Junior and Teddy Robin and The Playboys. Why do I still remember Joe Junior singing "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You" to this day? How about the Cantonese version of The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love"? Exhilarating!

I came to realize quickly how much the Hong Kong teenagers loved their own local pop music. They are as proud of their Hong Kong artistes today as we Singaporeans are of our own local stars. When in Hong Kong in 1968, don't even try to prop up the merits of Singapore 60's Pop Music with a Hong Kong teenager, ha ha ha.

Hey, speaking about The Fabulous Echoes, one of my most prized photographs is one of myself and my missus with Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum taken in April, 2008.

The Fabulous Echoes forever!!!

Anonymous said...

This is steban68 on youtube.
Great post! My favorite song of the Fabulous Echoes are Talkin' Bout Love, Dancing on the Moon, A Little Bit of Soap, and many more. I would like to thank Joe Wu for sharing all information and great stuff of one of the best 60s band in Hongkong.
I first heard Talkin' Bout Love in a Filipino movie Jamboree66 where this song was lip sync by an actor. I started liking it and thought it was an American song so I did research on what title and artist but to no avail until I found Joe Wu's youtube channel that features great Hongkong artist of the 60s. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

There was another group in Hong Kong called The Satellites during the same time of The Fabulous Echoes. Their one and only hit was Jamican Mash. Anyone having more info about this group ? I would like to hear that song again if its at all possible. Thanks

Aquarius

Vernon Cheong said...

Hi Aquarius,

Thanks for your post. Someone from Hong Kong has already uploaded The Satellites' "Jamaican Mash" on YouTube:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yqhj0MOgPY

Enjoy the music from yet another group from the 60s. Cheers.

Kent said...

i want to know where i can purchase cliff foenander and bill forbes songs in any media (cd, tape, mp3 or whatever format) Thank you.

sunsetneon said...

Hi i was a good friend of cliff Foenander i to would like to know if anyone has some of his albums for sale i have some would like some more i miss him

EdgardoVOlaes said...

Dear Joe, My brother-in-law Cesar who had worked in
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia bought one of the Cassette Tapes of THE FABULOUS ECHOES from a record bar in that place. It contains 14 tracks of these fab echoes. This item was printed and made in Indonesia. I hope Cesar still treasure it as keepsake. I am one of their fans. During the 60s, RP's Deejays Lito Gorospe and Sonia Basa and Announcer Johnny de Leon played their hits through the air lanes for so many times. More power to The Fabulous Echoes.... and the Society of Seven! Thank you Joe for the info of this fabulous group. From a fan,
Edgardo Valentino D. Olaes
PS: I love their A LITTLE BIT OF SOAP much better than the original one sung by The Jarmels.

Anonymous said...

As a younger generation who was born much later, I only discovered the Fabulous Echoes on the B-side of a bootleg cassette tape of the Cascades. The first song of the Fab Echoes that I liked (and still do) is Dancing on the Moon. I became a fan overnight, I enjoyed their songs and I'd like to know more about them. But unfortunately I can't find any detailed information about them. The only thing I learned from asking older people is that they were a big hit in HongKong (and/or Singapore) in the 60s and that some (or most) of the Members were Filipinos (not sure if this info was real, those were just second hand infos I heard of).
As one of the previous poster mentioned, the cassette tape originated from Saudi, but in print, it said that it was made in Indonesia. My father got the chance to work in Indonesia and tried to track down the source, but to our disappointment, those companies that made the cassette tapes were never heard of in Indonesia! Since then I've been looking for a CD compilation of the Fab Echoes and till this day I'm not able to find any. Hopefully if it gets enough attention, perhaps the record label holding the rights to their music might think of releasing a full compilation of the Fab Echoes.