2008/09/28

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.

17 comments:

mei said...

you know joe you have missed your calling ... you should have been in journalism

Im thinking how true it is what you are saying

If you look at the way music has evolved , many a time its been that its reflected history .. history of the era

Pre war ... post war ... bohemian ... the flower power era and all. The change of the political scene and mood of the times is reflected in the music of the era

Sometimes I feel I have missed so much being a 60s baby.

I personally went through a short spell in big hair and leg warmers but returned to prefer the tunes of yesteryear

Thanks for sharing .

Rach said...

Hi Joe,

That's a very well written piece of comment, interesting, factual, thought-provoking and most importantly, it really brings out what many of us has been cherishing over these years from teens to adults of today. Mei is right that you have alot of hidden talents, something I always admire in you except that there are times you may be a little overbearing but with no offence meant, I am sure.

You have brought out most of the reasons that kept us in tune with Singapore 60s' music. Another point to note is the good exposure radio and television of yesterdays gave to our local talents. These really gave our artistes the extra push to stardom, unlike present day where they can only accord a miserly 5 minutes of local music on certain radio shows. The recording companies like Philips and EMI also played at big role in promoting local talents, even the local Chinese recording companies that gave us music from The Stylers, The Travellers, Charlie & His Boys, Maurice Patton & The Melodians, The Silverstones etc etc.

The focus of recording companies were very different then. They believe there is value in investing on local talents but all these are no longer a consideration now, as their focus are very different today.

Thanks for reminding us, and educating others on our roots and the values we believe in. We were a very lucky generation......

warm regards,
rachael ann-tan

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe Wu,

I am quite sure your comments are reflective of the thoughts of the thousands of baby boomers like me. Many people have great visions of the 60s but they lack the confidence and writing skill in expressing themselves on print. Fortunately, we have friends like you, filling in the gap on our weak links.

I take great pride and pleasure in reading your post over and over again. It brings me into a time tunnel, something like the "Back To The Future" type of movie. You have opened up some of the blocked "arteries" in our memory bank.

The 60s were also a period of revolution for us, the craze of using English or Christian names like Joe Valentino Tan ....as such, the birth of live shows at the Badminton Hall, National Theatre, Cinemas, Requests programs on radio n Redifussion, Talentime (remember the Citizen & Rado Shows on B/W TV), Shindig Shows at TV Malaysia, Pop Inn Show on RTS, Chinese Variety Shows and the list goes on and on...eveything was beautiful then.
So how can people who have lived thru those special years forget those crazy hazy days of Singapore ?

Even those who have left us for greener pastures and have established themselves overseas still treasure those years and you being a good living example.

Your piece of comment have brought us back to some light years which we are very proud to be a part of in the history of Singapore's progress.

Thanks for lighting the candle for more good years of memories from the past.

Still in love with the 60s
Monique

Anonymous said...

I often wonder why the 70s and 80s generation of fans don't have the same "x" factor longing for music (both local & international)from those periods. Your note is very much self-explanatory to the point. I am of the opinion that you guys are more focused and possesses a much greater sense of nationalistic loyalty to home grown talents compared to the after lots.

You are so right about the 60s groups having their fair share of original contributions. Our own parade of "evergreen hits" reads like My Lonely Heart, Do It Right, Don't Laugh, You'll Cry, It's All Over, Happy Birthday Baby, just to mention a few.

Thanks for this wonderful piece of local music literature, Joe.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,

I have a question for you, out of curiousity. Before you re-discover your childhood days through Singapore 60s music from your buddies here, what were you listening for pastime ? British or US 60s.....or the latest in pops? Thanks.

Jet

Anonymous said...

awesome, to say the least ! for someone who resides in seattle, washington usa ? its good to know that our older local artistes still managed to hold the imaginatin of fans like you who are oceans away. hereagain, its also sad that the support back home is lacking. there is more talk than action from those self proclaimed fans here. thank you for doing something that should be done locally. regards

diana tan

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Hello, everyone!

Thank you all very much for making the time and effort to write in. I really appreciate all your nice comments. Compliments are always nice, especially when you can feel the sincerity.

I had hesitated in responding here only because I am one of those people here who believe very strongly that the focus at this blogsite should always be on our local recording artistes from Singapore 1960's rather than on the fans themselves.

After all, those local heroes were the ones who did deeds that we fans have never done and can only dream of. Making music, making records, making us proud to be Singaporeans. We fans can only live through them vicariously.


Dear Mei,

Thank you for your note. You always know how to put an extra buzz into my day. You are better than Starbucks, even though you were, hee hee hee, "Born Too Late," as the song says.


Dear Rachael Ann Tan,

Yeah, I don't understand myself why the mass media in Singapore have not been more supportive of the local artistes all these years, especially since the 1960's. But I heard that Rediffusion has just launched a new channel that will feature only Made-in-Singapore music 24/7. That's exciting, and I hope it works out well for the local music makers.

Will they have specific segments for the Golden Era of Singapore Pop Music? Maybe they could resurrect the playlists from the old "Top Tunes Of The Week" and replay an entire list each week.


Dear Monique,

I think you also express yourself very eloquently in writing. I'm very touched that you would "take great pride and pleasure in reading" my "post over and over again."

I tell you, once a Singaporean, always a Singaporean. I may not have stepped on the soil of Singapore for 40 years, but everytime I listen to Singapore 60's Pop Music now, I always feel like I am back in Singapore and it's, like, 1964 all over again.


Dear Lynn,

The world today is much different than the one in the 1960's. The young generation today cannot help being what they are, just as we could not help being what we were 40 years ago.

Back in the 1960's, our own parents must have felt that the world was spinning too fast for them. Just like today, we baby boomers are the ones feeling like old dinosaurs when we are faced with all the bursts of energy from our young people.

Good thing we have our 1960's music to remind us that at one time we were the young ones.


Dear Jet,

I liked both British and American recording artistes in the 1960's. We really had some great singers and stars on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. With that said, the 70's also had some amazing stars. Like Abba. Saw that movie "Mama Mia" twice on two consecutive weekends recently, and I quickly remembered that I really liked Abba back in the 70's.

One great thing about YouTube for me is that suddenly now I get to see the old 1960's British groups performing (lip-synching) their big hits when they were in their prime in the good old days. Some idols I had never seen in action before, and some I had not seen in a long while. Goodness, I had been starving all these years!

Too bad the old black and white video tapes of our own 1960's Singapore local heroes were all destroyed in that big fire. A really tragic and major loss of a big chunk of the history of our generation.


Dear Diana Tan,

The demise of EMI Singapore saddens me deeply. Another part of the history of Singapore 60's Pop Music soon to dissolve at the hands of bean counters in today's corporate world.

Thank goodness we have fans like Joseph C. Pereira, aka Goldenvenus, who has championed the preservation and promotion of Singapore 60's Pop Music. He's the one responsible for pushing out "Legends Of The Golden Venus" book and "Treasures From The Past" and "The Trailers Collection" CD's. Thank goodness, too, for fans like Vernon Cheong, who worked so closely with EMI Singapore to release "Recollecting The Quests, Vols. 1 & 2" and also "Recollecting Singapore 60's, Vols. 1 & 2."

I salute all fans of Singapore 60's Pop Music.

Long live Singapore 60's Pop Music !!!
And long live the fans of this music !!!

pauseability said...

Came here via Youtube. Enjoying the posts on Youtube and this blog very much. Though born only in the later part of the 60s, I find the tunes and the images resonating deeply with me.

Anonymous said...

This kind of music is very similar in all countries. I've write a post with some from France or Portugal, you would'nt understand the text.

Be well!
Táxi Pluvioso

Anonymous said...

hi hi..this is a good blog for oldies. i have no qualms about giving due credit to those fabulous groups from the 1960s era. taking a step back, i am very convinced that some of the other groups and talents from the later years, especially in the 70s also deserve the same if not higher level of recognition n respect. I am referring to groups like Heritage, Tania, Tokyo Square, Gingerbread, Speedway, even some as recent as the Oddfellows, Lizards Convention, Energy, artistes like Maizurah, Jessica Soo, Christina Ong. We must not forget them and their contributions. However, I think you fans from the 60s are more passionate than the later generations like us...as we are often distracted by many other music options available.

Young

Anonymous said...

Hi Young,

"Passion" is the word. We are lucky to have passionate fans like Vernon Cheong from the 60s period. Maybe somewhere out there is another passionate fan from the 70s or 80s period who will take on the task of hosting a Blog for your generation of music makers ?

Hey Joe - thanks for your reply to my mail. Appreciate it.

regards,
Jet

Anonymous said...

Wow ! This is one of the best recordings done by The Quests. Also a great gathering of musicians, the who-is-who in the local music circuit. Led by our Guitar Masetro Reggie Verghese,and well supported by other Quests members Jap Choong, Samuel Toh, Lim WG, Jimmy Chen and Vernon . Great show boys !!!!!

Quests fan

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Rediffusion was my faithful friend and playmate when I was growing up in Singapore in the 50's and 60's. I still remember staring at the golden mesh of that brown box for hours and hours after school as I listened to some of the most beautiful pop music ever known to mankind. For a time in my life, everything revolved around "Top Tunes Of The Week," a weekly countdown of the top 10 most popular records of Singapore for that week.

Looking back, it was a very happy life, because a young teenaged Singaporean boy's only problems back then were school homework and tests, pimples and acnes, and how to impress the lovely Singaporean girls.

I recall getting so excited even when Rediffusion would play a record that I already owned. It only strongly reinforced that you had some good stuff in your collection.

Young people of today, the iPod generation, will never know what it's like to wait all day for your favourite song to come on the radio after school.

The local Singapore 60's Pop Music that is mentioned throughout this website was always an extra delight. You could not help but feel so proud of the local heroes because we all lived their lives and their successes vicariously.

But, of course, there were always songs that came from beyond the shores of Singapore. Other than Anneke Gronloh, The Blue Diamonds and The Fabulous Echoes. Other than Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Cliff Richard & The Shadows. Together they all also greatly impacted our growing up years.

Here are just some of my own personal favourite musical memories of Rediffusion:

"Corinna, Corinna" - Ray Peterson
"Devoted To You" - Everly Brothers
"Fraulein" - Bobby Helms
"Ginny Come Lately" - Brian Hyland
"He'll Have To Go" - Jim Reeves
"North To Alaska" - Johnny Horton
"Susie Darlin'" - Robin Luke

For sure there were a lot more other records, but this is good for now. I had my favourites, you all had yours.

This message is simply to recall the good old days of Rediffusion in Singapore.

Peace to all.

Andy Young* said...

Hi Joe,
Surfing the net I managed to view your blog and am glad there are many people like you and I who are part of the Singapore music scene during the 60s. My name is Andy and have just started a blog on the same subject so I welcome you to view it and put in suggestions that you think can be useful.

I used to front the Silver Strings as Andy Young in the mid-sixties at the Celestial Room, etc. I hope with our blogs we can encourage others to contribute.

We just had a gig at VivoCity on 08.11.08. Were you there? Do write and comment on this note and the blog.

Glad to meet another ehthusiast.

Regards,
Andy

JoeWuSeattleWaUSA said...

Hello there, Mr. Andy Young!

So nice to hear from you, and thank you for your invitation to visit your new blog. I wish you great success with your new blog.

I must quickly confess that I was just a brat and was never a performer during the Golden Era of Singapore Pop Music. But I am definitely an enthusiast for this genre, and have been one ever since I got hooked big-time on Rediffusion in the early 60's. The good old days of "Top Tunes Of The Week" when our local artistes would compete so successfully with the international artistes for the #1 position week after week.

Andy, thanks to information from our mutual friend, Joseph Pereira, in 2003, I first heard of you and your place in the history of The Silver Strings. I must congratulate you for being the first lead vocalist with that distinguished band. Surely you must have some great memories of the music gigs with the band. I always had dreams of fronting a great pop band like you did, but, alas, such was never to be my pathway to fame, and I could only live your life vicariously. I heard you left the band to focus on being a teacher shortly after The Silver Strings started accompanying Veronica Young, and then there was Shirley Nair, and also Vernon Cornelius for a few months. What a sterling history.

I live in Seattle, and I was not able to attend the concert at Vivo City a month ago. Some good friends in Singapore gave me some raving reports of the concert. A good time was had by all, so three cheers to all the performers and the organizers of the event. And, just as importantly, three big cheers to all the folks in the audience for supporting the local heroes of Singapore 60's Pop Music.

Best regards,
Joe Wu

Andy Young* said...

Hi Mr Joe Wu,

Just read your note written on 8th Dec. So busy with my blog and daily life that I didn't read it earlier.

I feel honoured that you replied. With the stature you built posting all the wonderful videos of 60s Spore Music shows your sincerity and love for the era.

The time spent is well worth it.

Thanks again,
Andy Young

neuro said...

hello greetings from brunei, your blog has been very informative on the music scene of the 60s which im exploring at the moment.

i'm actually an "80's kid" and have no knowledge of what was going on in the 50-60s era. My interest sparks from the incident where a few years back my family moved to a new house.

As the old house was getting demolished, a pile of my mother's old records was lying on our display rack waiting to be boxed. i remember seeing asian faces with english american song titles on the cover. i believe its mostly singaporean/malaya lady singers (with 60s miniskirts) and bands.

Since our moving car was fully loaded we left the records for the next trip. The next day, all the records were stolen (the front door was dismantled by the demolition people in the morning) The pile probably has around 30-40 records. All this while I still regret not bringing any of those old records along with us, even a few.

Could anyone give me a quick run through of the popular artists back then? or how i can get a "best of" vinyl or CD collection for my mother's birthday. Just gmail me. Much appreciated and many thanks.