The Trailers

The Trailers, featuring Benny Koh, Victor Woo, Edmund Tan, Eric Tan, Tony Zee and Michael Teo . Their first hit success was "Do It Right" followed by "Don't Laugh, You'll Cry", "The Phoenix Theme". Others included Thunderball, Lucille, Quiver, Run Away-Hide, Irene Goodnight, Mohair Sam, I'm Ready Now, Peter Gunn, Raise Your Hand, Gimme Little Sign, Lara's Song, Ding Dong Song, Ali San, Girl Of My Dreams, You Only Live Twice, Come Back My Love andBe Faithful Be True. A compilation of all their recordings was released on CD a few years ago.


JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Next to The Quests, The Trailers were my most favorite group when I was growing up in Singapore. That's saying a lot, since I also loved The Crescendos, Naomi and The Boys, The Cyclones and The Thunderbirds, among others.

Maybe it's because they had a great knack for crafting those well-known Chinese melodies into beautiful pop masterpieces that still stand up today as the best in the history of Singapore Pop Music. Maybe it's because they had Benny Koh, surely one of the strongest pop voices Singapore ever produced. Maybe it's because of the unique guitar skills of Victor Woo, their leader/founder and lead guitarist. Legend has it that Victor Woo was the first man in Singapore to record using a fuzz box when The Trailers made "Don't Laugh (You'll Cry)."

I remember back in the mid-60's, there was definitely a very serious Battle of the Bands in Singapore. When the smoke cleared, you had The Quests camp on one side, and you had the Trailers camp on the other side. This Battle of The Bands even resulted in fights among boys after school as words led to angry debates and then fisticuffs. For me, personally, I could never understand why we had to choose between The Quests and The Trailers. Why couldn't we like both bands, I remember asking some of my school friends.

I suppose it's akin to different schools in Singapore in the 60's having their traditional rivalries. Right or wrong, The Quests were from Tiong Bahru and The Trailers from Katong. So, there was a lot of regional pride and territorial interests, and you just had to wear your team colors, so to speak.

I think all this Quests vs. Trailers feud was the result of The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones Contest that was held in 1965 in Singapore. As was the thing to do back then in the 60's, the Singapore pop music scene tended to emulate what was happening in the Western pop scene.

One of my biggest joys when I started recollecting Singapore 60's Pop Music in 2003 was getting to know Victor Woo by e-mail. He was always one of my childhood heroes, so it was very good to read his recollections of what happened in the 60's. Funny thing was, back in the 60's, at the height of our Battle of The Bands in Singapore, The Quests and The Trailers were very good friends with one another.

But back then, did the diehard fans of both camps care about that? Apparently not! It was as good a reason as any for young boys to meet after school and fight for one's honor. Yeah, if it wasn't over a girl, it was definitely over The Quests or The Trailers.

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Come to think of it, I have three other very vivid recollections of The Trailers from the 1960's.

(1) Sometime in 1966. I remember strolling on Marine Parade along Katong Beach with my family one evening. It was probably a typical hot day, and folks were there to enjoy the cool breeze and the waves coming in. As I was walking, I saw this group of six young men relaxing around a bench. What got my attention was this young man laying on the bench, surrounded by his friends. He was belting out "House Of The Rising Sun" very loudly, completely oblivious to the folks waking by. Although I remember his friends laughing and singing along as he was singing.

"There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And, God, I know I'm one..."

To this day, I am still convinced that the young man singing was Benny Koh, and the friends around him were Victor Woo and The Trailers. And they were probably relaxing at Katong Beach that evening, too.

(2) Christmastime 1967. I remember watching The Trailers performing "Be Faithful, Be True" on black and white television on one of those festive holidays specials.

The thing that really stood out for me was that, for some unknown reason, Benny Koh was the one playing the drums instead of Tony Zee. I remember being in a state of shock, wondering what's going on, but it was for sure Benny Koh sitting at the drums, and he had this mischievous grin on his face, like he got caught eating someone else's curry puff.

I think that was because The Trailers were play-synchronizing to their record, and Benny was grinning widely because he was trying very hard - but having a little bit of synchronization issues - trying to play the drums like on the record.

Everytime I listen to "Be Faithful, Be True" today, I think of that television show.

(3) Mid-1968. When I was in Grade 11, I remember the prefects at St. Joseph's Institution organizing a fund-raising concert. Prefects were assigned to go to different schools all over the island and try to sell tickets to the students. I remember teaming up with another prefect, and it was really exciting at first because we were given the rare opportunities to not only skip our classes but to also walk inside all girls schools, and that's pretty big for those of us acne-faced blokes who attended all boys schools, like SJI. Unfortunately, my team was not having too much success selling the tickets. What to do? How to drum up ticket sales?

My partner and I got desperate, and desperate people do desperate things. We knew it wasn't true, but we started embellishing the list of performers who were scheduled to perform. No, we were not telling a lot of blatant lies. We just very casually told the students - our prospective customers - that we were expecting The Trailers to also perform at the concert. I don't know what possessed us to make up a story like that, but I clearly remember young girls getting all excited when we mentioned Benny Koh's name. One pretty girl (I forget which school) even got up and did an impromptu A Go Go dance, and I remember wishing for a long time that I had asked her out for a date. Anyway, more ticket sales!

Because I left Singapore in July that year, I never did attend that concert. I hope The Trailers did show up, after all. I hope that pretty A Go Go girl is doing fine today.

Anonymous said...

I am sooo excited to find this site. My sister used to be a go-go dancer for the Trailers and she is turning 60 in January, 2009. My sisters are planning a surprise
60s party for her. I am hoping to locate some of her band members so that they can play a song at her birthday so if anyone knows of their whereabouts, pls leave a message or email address. My sister's name is Annie and my sister is Kathrine, singer of the Firebyrds so if any of those members are around it would be wonderful to hear from you.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the youtube link to the The Trailers (Singapore) - Do It Right