Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Peggy Tann Story Part One: By Henri Gann

Henri Gann trusted me when he decided to let me in on these stories about our pop music stars from the 50's onwards. I respect his wishes and remind readers that his publishings have been copyrighted. 
I must thank him again for the time and effort he took to research Ms Peggy Tann.

This posting is a National Day 2017 gift from Henri Gann to the people of Singapore.

Remembering Peggy (Part 1)

"Peggy Tann could very well be Singapore's next great singing star. She had several necessary qualities to reach stardom. A style and identity, talent and showmanship and a desire to be a big name artist."
... popular Hong Kong Radio DJ Tony Orchez (1962).

Pictures 1
She was a singer, jazz pianist and organist and a fashion icon in Singapore 60s. She had excellent taste in clothes, food and music ( Tony Orchez '62 ). She was elegant, classy and beautiful; the type of girl you would see in the fashion magazine like Her World or today's Vogue. 

Music, Dance Halls, Hotel Lounges and Jazz Music in Singapore 60's

Jazz music was popular in Singapore 60's. At that time, it would not be uncommon to hear the music from a 3 or 4 piece jazz band echoing from the hotel lobby. I can recollect the deep distinctive notes from the double-double bass, the sweeping brush strokes of the snare drums, the sexy expressive sound of a saxophone and a smooth voice of a singer-pianist whenever I walked past the Adelphi Hotel or the Raffles Hotel. This was the jazz music of Peggy and the HH Tann Orchestra.
Peggy and HH Tann Orchestra

Peggy Tann was an all round musician. She was not only a singer but could also play the piano and the organ which is an instrument few can master because of its difficult bass pedals. She had her music training in classical piano and her vocal coaching at the school.

Peggy was inspired by her father HH Tan who was himself a talented musician. He was a saxophonist and a band leader with his own orchestra. It was an unusual career for him considering that most of the professional musicians of his time in Singapore were either Eurasians or from the Philippines. 

He was also a very modest man who shunned publicity (Straits Times Jan 28, 1972). He gave Peggy a head start by focusing her early appearances only in exclusive places. 

Pictures 2
In Singapore 60's, it was very difficult for a young musician to gain entry into the business. In the report " Musical Practice of Jazz in Singapore " of the National Archives, it was mentioned that within the musicians' group, there were those who played for the 5-star hotels and others that played for the amusement parks cabarets: New World, Great World and Happy or Gay World

Classical Training:

The main difference between these two types of musicians was the ability to read notes. The Trekkers members had the opportunity to meet professional musicians such as Charles Lazaroo, Winston Filmer, Sam Gan and Louis Soliano when we had our short stint playing at Radio and Television Singapura and at Rediffusion

We were also fortunate to have met the up and coming musicians like Philip Chin and his Blue Combo and the Key Notes when we were at the Great World Cabaret Battle of the Bands contest. 

Peggy's ability to read music from her classical piano training together with the guidance from her musician father put her at an advantage over many of the amateurs and she gained professional musician status in a very short time. She was still in her teens when she achieved professional status.

Tough Tenure:

In the same article, ballroom dancing was also reported as a popular form of entertainment. It was said that while the VIPs and expatriates would go to the 5-star RafflesAdelphi and Cockpit Hotels, the locals and off duty military personnel would often patronise the Dance Halls or Cabarets of the Amusement Parks

It was at the El Amigo Nightclub of the New World Amusement Park where Peggy had her early start in show business like many that came after her. The club was at Kitchener Road located in a historical part of old Singapore and named after the British Earl Kitchener from World War 1

It was also in the Jalan Besar area, formerly a very rough area part of town. Still, it was here that Peggy first learned about jazz while playing as a duet with her dad.  The tough tenure at the club gave her the equivalence of the experience that legendary jazz artistes from the New Orleans Preservation Hall of America would have gone through.

Please make comments if you wish, especially if you are familiar with Peggy Tann and HH Tann.

Part Two would follow soon.

Happy National Day 2017 to all Singaporeans near and far.

Images and Collage: Henri Gann (right).
Copyrights Reserved (California, USA).

Friday, August 11, 2017

National Day Parade Songs Most Popular

Latest 11 August 2017

5 of the top most read articles for this week and month are about Singapore's National Day and the songs. Have you read them all?

    The titles are below and the connections are on the right bar of this blog                                                  under Most Popular:

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Memories: Home: By Ms CYLin

This National Day posting has been contributed by Ms CYLin. Thank you, Lin, once again for another nostalgic piece about our Little Red Dot. 
Fifty two years of nationhood.  That is middle-age by human standard.  Yet looking around me, the physical environment is forever rejuvenating with lots of 'nip and tucks', 'fillers', 'make overs'.  Unlike the human race, she is not allowed to age gracefully.  And as with ageing, memories fade.

My family of six used to rent a room in a huge atap roof bungalow in Paterson Hill. The kids of different races in that area came together in a big field for physical workouts -- climb trees; kick chaptek; fly kites; strike marbles; hop scotch; played police and thieves.  What is now at No.1 Paterson Hill?
My classmates and I would go to the National Library at Fort Canning/Penang Road.  We not only read or borrow books but also to extend the half day at school to enjoy one another's company.  I try to visualise the exact location of the building.  I see an underpass that allows vehicular traffic from Stamford Road to 'smoothly' flow through to Penang Road.

The National Theatre with its natural air-conditioning at River Valley Road was where local and foreign acts were staged.  The Singapore Girl Guides Association put up a concert in 1973 to raise funds to send some youth members to attend overseas events.  
It was in 1965 that my brother and some friends used this venue to raise funds to help a former classmate who broke his spine in a diving accident and became an invalid.  Today, all I see as a reminder of this beautiful building is a laughable structure of its facade nailed on a field at the junction of River Valley Road and Tank Road.

My present home of 44 years is in a public housing estate of some interesting design and labelled a heritage site.  Does this mean that I can remain here till my last breath?  Or as with many not only public but private property, it will have to give way to progress in a uniquely small spot.  I understand the constraint of size and accept grudgingly that most times things are done for the good of the majority.

I often feel and say that I'm of the lucky generation.  My migrant parents slogged to give me an education that saw me take up a profession that grants me fulfilment.  Today I'm enjoying my retirement years in ways that they were not able to.  I have good health.  

I use public transport to go to all parts of the island and reminisce... I have reasonable wealth to live comfortably by no one else's but my own standard.  I feel safe and secure in the knowledge that my family, friends, and neighbours in the vicinity are there for me in my hours of need as I am for them.
It's natural to yearn for the good old times.  With age, memories become less sharp and comparison between the past and present are less distinct.  This national day as with all the previous ones I thank God for blessing Singapore and pray that He continually does so.  I on my part will live 'one day at a time, for tomorrow may not be mine.'


To read other postings by Ms CYLin, click her name under Labels below.

Image: Google.
You Tube Video: Kit Chan sings Home composed by Dick Lee.

Glen Campbell, Goodbye: A Tribute From Andy

Glen Campbell: 1936 - 2017 (81 Years)
A Tribute From Andy

I remember Glen Campbell because he was my wife's favourite singer. She was always singing, Annie's Song and others like Wichita Lineman and Galveston. Witchita Lineman is one of the 1001 Songs You Must Listen To Before You Die by Robert Dimery. 

Also, 500 Miles and A Place In The Sun were easy songs to relate to. I was not attracted to Campbell and his songs at first but began to appreciate him with such lyrics:
                                You Tube Video by Mark Moscatello
Like a bird on a tree
I keep waiting to be free
Moving on, just moving on...

I first heard the Engelbert Humperdinck version but with Campbell's style, typically rustic, an open air feel and with that country lilt, I thought it was movin' enough. 
Annie's Song too (from John Denver actually) was another one that attracted me. Again the words, with poetic nuances, made me listen:

You fill up my senses like a night in the forest
Like a mountain in springtime, like a walk in the rain
There was a multiplicity of meaning here and taking me away from:

Well, there's one for the money, 
Two for the show
Three to get ready,
Now go cat go... (Elvis Presley)

Glen Campbell was already well established when I first learnt about him and by the late 60's when I met my future missus, we always had a comfortable discussion about this session guitarist and country singer. 
It was an appropriate and polite chatting point during the coffee hours at Wonderland Milk Bar above DBS Bank at East Coast Road, just next to the Roxy Cinema. Or was it somewhere else?

I learnt what a Linesman was, never knowing that they existed since we don't have them in Singapore. Or do we? The other two hits were Try A Little Kindness and It's Only Make Believe. There was Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights.

One of Campbell's biggest hits, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, according to Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra is, "the greatest torch song ever written."
This singer, with his rugged smile, went on to become one of the best-known country singers internationally. He sang and recorded nearly 900 songs on his 70 albums and sold 45 million of them during his career.
Rest In Peace Mr Glen Campbell. Your songs, like your name, will live for a long long time.

And she'll cry, just to think, I'd really leave her
Though time and time I've tried to tell her so
She just didn't know I would really go.
Wonderland Milk Bar or coffee house above DBS Bank @ East Coast Road beside the Roxy Cinema, a rendezvous for chit chats and food.

Images: Google.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Mick Jagger, Donald Trump? 'Gotta Get A Grip'

Sixties music strong man and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger isn't happy with what's going on in the world today. He just turned 74 on 23 July, about 10 days ago, and has written a new song called England Lost, where he discussed Brexit. 
But what attracted me to the newspaper report in the Straits Times this morning, is not the Brexit song but another one that's supposed to be about Mr Donald Trump. 

The second solo track titled Gotta Get A Grip is a dance tune. He added that he was more inspired by the United States.  The song is being seen as a comment on POTUS.
So here's Mick with his lyrics, which, according to the same newspaper, dump poor Mr Trump:
"Gotta get a grip/Beat it with a stick/Gotta get a grip/She goin' for the hit," as the song begins.
"The world is upside down/Everybody lunatics and clowns/No one speaks the truth/And madhouse runs the town," it goes on.
"Immigrants are pouring in/ Refugees under your skin/Keep 'em under, keep 'em out/Intellectual, shut your mouth/Beat 'em with a stick," it adds. 
From the lyrics provided, they don't sound like an attack on Mr Trump. More like a general statement about the situation in the world today.
"The message, I suppose, is despite all those things that are happening, you've got to get on with your own life, be yourself and attempt to create your own destiny," Jagger said.
Philosophical. More like, "I can't get no, satisfaction..." again.
Come on give Mr Trump a break, and Mick Jagger his song. No names mentioned, so how is it about The Donald?

It's more about the guys at the top. Many of the guys at the top. No specifics.

Everybody's stuffing their pockets
Everybody's on the take
The news is all fake...

The other track. England Lost has the 4th verse referring to Singapore:

Had a girl in Lisbon, a girl in Rome
Now I'll have to stay at home
So lock the shallows, bolt the doors
Nothing's gonna be like Singapore
Don't know what's home...

Comment anyone?
                 "Lunatics and clowns, Mad house runs the town."

You Tube connection: Gotta Get A Grip
Extracts are from AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, SPH Website: Lifestyle The Straits Times Press and MailOnline (Edited).
                   "The news is all fake, Immigrants are pouring in."
Images: Google.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Late Roger Moore: Saintly Bonding With Singapore

Image: Singapore Press Holdings: National Archives of Singapore (28/05/1969)

The James Bond Story with the late Roger Moore as an example:

Roger Moore is gone. He died on May 23 this year (2017).

He was a superstar. He was handsome, suave, sexy, an Englishman and a ladies man. He died at 89 years. And very popular in Singapore when he acted as a secret agent in The Saint and James Bond movies series.

On the popularity poll, Roger Moore had won the hearts of many of his fans on our little island. I only learnt about him in the early 60's when The Saint hit our Singapore black and white TV screen. Oh, and he was my late mom's favourite screen star. 

She used to exclaim that he was, "So handsome. Better than Clark Gable..."

But the series appeared much later than when it first started in 1962. There were 118 episodes altogether up to 1969.  We never had television until 1963. In fact, I remember The Man from UNCLE better than The Saint. 

So like Bonanza and *Have Gun Will Travel where living room audiences learnt about cowboys from the gun-toting West, they absorbed secret agent culture with the likes of Simon Templar and Mr Napoleon Solo.

Leslie Charteris, born in Singapore, creator of The Saint. With Roger Moore.

The match-stick man logo of The Saint could be found scrawled on some Singapore walls, on sheets of paper and classroom desks. (Drawing graffiti is strict here, even today, so woe-betide.)

There was a big hoo-ha when Roger Moore came to Singapore in 1969.  He came with his Italian wife Luisa.  He was quite a buzz and was interviewed by the media. 
In fact, any pop star who came to Singapore became an attraction. Especially Roger Moore with his blue eyes. Some Singapore girls adore Caucasian men with blue eyes and worship them like gods.

His James Bond persona was in my mind more than his role as Simon Templar. According to the statistics, he acted in seven James Bond (007) movies. These films, with the group or singers names below, were:
A Singapore 1968 recording. Lisa Pattis. From Steven Farram's research. 

Live And Let Die - 1973 - Wings
The Man With The Golden Gun - 1974 - Lulu
The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977 - Carly Simon
Moonraker - 1979 -Shirley Bassey
For Your Eyes Only - 1981 - Sheena Easton
Octopussy (All Time High) - 1983 - Rita Coolidge
A View To A Kill - 1985 - Duran Duran

Most of the James Bond movies were shown at Shaw Brothers' theatres like the Lido Cinema at Orchard Road or at the Capitol during earlier times. In later months they films were distributed to smaller suburban cinemas like the Roxy in Tanjong Katong (East Coast).

Going off track a little, Bond movies were so popular that Chinese, Malay and Indian pop singers and bands recorded many James Bond themes or related songs. Spin-offs made profits too those years.

Then there were spoofs, like Mat Sentul's Malay version above and a popular funny man who called himself Hamid Bond. He made waves in Singapore with his comedic capers.
            Connie Chan Po Chu Hong Kong James Bond Pathe Vinyl Cover

The vinyl covers featured guns, sexy ladies with machine guns and super cars. This commercialised secret agent went wild from the 60's onwards and the Singapore fans loved it. Cinemas were full when Bond movies were screened.

Roger Moore's seven Bond movies had earned for the producers more than a billion dollars. Hope Mr Moore got more for his share too.

One of his movies, *For Your Eyes Only, was promoted by a prominent eye-wear company, in Singapore and Sheena Easton sang at the National Theatre that year in 1981. She was a hit and so was the movie. 

                    The Stylers - Themes from James Bond. Video by Abdul Trelles

Strange, but I can remember the theme tunes of most of the Bond films, including these ones that Roger Moore starred in. James Bond title songs have always been hits. 

In fact, in the 60's, Singapore guitar group, The Trailers recorded two of them, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. Sales were good for the two vinyl.

Once asked if he did his own stunts, he replied with the usual Englishman quip, "Of course I do my own stunts. And I also do my own lying."

You're the spy we all love. Rest In Peace Roger Moore. 


*No 'saintly bonding'. Just a play on words with 'Saint' and 'Bond'. 😊

*Have Gun Will Travel Connection:

*Sheena Easton: For Your Eyes Only in Singapore Concert:

Roger Moore signing autographs at Television Singapura on 28 May 1969.

Images: Google and National Archives of Singapore.


Latest News

5 August 2017.

"Espionage is a reality of life," explains MP Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs in Singapore. 

He was commenting on the NUS suspension of an academic who, "had worked with intelligence organisations and agents from a foreign country to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion."

Extract from The Straits Times Press, Singapore. Page: A8 Top of the News.

Monday, July 31, 2017

National Day Songs Thru The Years (1984 - 2017)

Singapore School Children Celebrating National Day
33 Years of National Day Songs:

National Day songs are specifically composed around a particular theme for the National Day Parade which is held every year on August 9. Here's the list:

1984: Stand Up for Singapore by Hugh Harrison
1985: Stand Up... 
1986: Count on me Singapore by Hugh Harrison, Jeremy Monteiro by C Chow

1987: We are Singapore by Hugh Harrison, Jeremy Monteiro.

1990: One People, One Nation, One Singapore by Jeremy Monteiro, Jim Aitchison
1998: Home (家) by Kit Chan
1999: Together (心连心), by Evelyn Tan and Dreamz FM

2000: Shine on Me (星月), by Jai (English version) and Mavis Hee (In Chinese)
2001: Where I Belong (属于), by Tanya Chua
2002: We Will Get There (一起走到), by Stefanie Sun

2003: One United People (全心全意), by Stefanie Sun
2004: Home" (家), remixed version by Lin Junjie, Kit Chan
2005: Reach Out For The Skies (勇敢向前飞), Taufik B/Rui En, Elaine Chan, Rui En

Singapore Children's Choir
2006: My Island Home (幸福的图形), by Kaira Gong
2007: There's No Place I'd Rather Be by Kit Chan (陈洁仪) Will You Local Artistes
2007: Will You by Jimmy Ye with group performers

2008: Shine for Singapore (晴空万里) by Hady Mirza (English) and Joi Chua (In Chinese)
2009: What Do You See (就在这里) by Electrico (English) and Kelvin Tan (In Chinese)
2010: Song for Singapore by Corrinne May

2011: In a Heartbeat by Sylvia Ratonel
2012: Love At First Light by Olivia Ong, Natanya Tan
2013: One Singapore  by Sing A Nation Choir

2014: 2015: Our Singapore by JJ Lin
2016: Tomorrow’s Here Today by 53A
2017: Because It's Singapore Lee Wei Song, Jay Lim

Information from: Wikipedia: Music of Singapore.
Images from: Google

(Please inform if there are inaccuracies or changes to be made. Write under Comment column with connection below.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Louis Soliano: An Institution In Singapore Music

Sunday from 5 - 7.30 pm.
30 July 2017
Esplanade Concourse


Louis Soliano is virtually an institution in the Singapore music scene, having performed in every major music establishment. An accomplished percussionist and vocalist with over 56 years of professional experience, he has performed with numerous jazz luminaries across both regionally and internationally and has garnered both respect and admiration of the jazz community both in Singapore and abroad. 
Join Soliano and his quartet comprising of pianist Joshua Wan, bassist John Koh and percussionist Bobby Singh as they perform a selection of classic jazz standards and show tunes.

Louis Soliano

Louis Soliano is virtually an institution in the Singapore music scene, having performed in every major music establishment. An accomplished percussionist and vocalist with over 56 years of professional experience performing at jazz festivals, concert halls, cabarets and hotels, he has performed to dignitaries such as George W. Bush and the late Chinese President Yang Shangkun.
His musical journey reads like a history of the music in Singapore and the region. Coming from a famed family of musicians, he embarked on a musical career in the late ’50s which saw him tour the Far East, Europe and America, working with numerous international celebrities.
Returning to Singapore in 1974, Soliano made waves with his trio, performing commercial jazz in Singapore clubs, Malaysia and Southeast Asia. He then played drums and percussion with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra (SBC) for 10 years before becoming a regular feature at the Singapore International Jazz Festival in the ’80s and early ’90s. 
In 1997, Louis was a recipient of the Compass Artistic Excellence Award for his outstanding musicianship and contributions to the development of the Singapore jazz music scene. He later received his lifetime achievement award from Lawrence Wong, then Minister of Culture, Community and Youth and the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival in 2014. 

You make me feel so young
You make me feel so spring has sprung
And every time I see you grin
I'm such a happy individual

Catch you all there tonight. 
Comment guys?

Image and story (edited) from:

Another posting about LS:

You Tube Video: Laughter in the Rain (Neil Sedaka) 

by Louis Soliano 

@ Paragon Music En Vogue 19 Oct 2011