Reliving Singapore in the 60s
THE 60s may have ended more than 40 years ago, but fans of the decade are still enjoying the music as they reminisce younger days and popular culture of the time.
If you have ever searched the Internet for local music, you would have come across Singapore 60s: Andy’s Pop Music Influence.
The man behind the website is none other than Andy Young, the frontman of The Velvetones (whose members later formed Firebyrds), Swallows and The Silver Strings, bands that were active in Singapore in the 60s.
The 74-year-old music blogger launched the site in 2008.
“The Silver Strings called me back to sing for a charity gig at Vivo City Singapore in November 2008. I did, and met music friends I hadn’t met for years.
“As an English Language and English Literature graduate, I love to write. So, I thought it’d be a good idea to start the blog and use it as a ‘kopitiam’ where music-minded folks could chat,” says Andy, who admits to not being a professional singer, not even in his younger days.
The site is not just for the young at heart. It’s also to keep the younger generation aware of their heritage.
“The ‘memory trails’ are my own stories of past experiences. Many band stories are my own and from my music ‘kakis’. Readers from Britain, Canada, US and Australia who left Singapore after the 60s have also written in to tell their stories. There’s one Allan Thompson RAF who has written more than a dozen stories for the blog. They volunteered willingly when I asked. I guess they just cannot forget Singapore in the 60s and 70s,” says Andy via email from Singapore.
Besides information about singers and bands from the 60s, there are also videos from YouTube.
But the blog is not just about music of the 60s; it also talks about music from other decades and popular culture like pen-pals, food, gadgets and books.
According to Andy, it was always his intention for the blog to be not just about music.
“I guess popular culture just came along the way, so in language you get, ‘Man, dig that crazy chick …’ and long, long hair was exciting. Remember the Malay term, ‘Ikal mayang, terbayang bayang’? In the 70s it applied to guys, too!” says Andy.
His favourite Singaporean singers/bands of the 60s are Silver Strings, Swallows, Quests, Thunderbirds and Checkmates.
“Versatility is the key here. They played all kinds and sounded great both live and in recordings,” says Andy.
He also likes vocal groups The Flamingos and The Bambinos and singers like TF Tan, Robert Song, Eunice Sim and Rahim Hamid.
“I think we should be proud of what our own chaps can do. Singapore music is a unique blend of cross cultures from both the East and West and it was in the 60s when it all started with a lot of trials and experimentation by our local boys and girls. Also doing covers was the trend and imitating the West was the norm then,” says Andy, who studied in New Zealand, Scotland, Canada and Australia, yet still returned home to Singapore.
His love for local artistes extends across the Causeway to Malay artistes of yore like P. Ramlee, Saloma, Zainal Alam, Anita Sarawak, Jimmy Boyle, Bryan Jeremiah, Frankie Cheah, Falcons and Strollers.
There is a need to preserve the music of the past. Thankfully, Singapore and Malaysia have sites like Andy’s where music and pop culture of the past can be relived and enjoyed.
“There is a fear (of losing the music of the past) but no one will (preserve it) unless there is a market and money to be made. Hopefully our archives will start moving soon,” sums up Andy.
Singapore 60s: Andy’s Pop Music Influence can be found at singapore60smusic.blogspot.com.