1 beat and 1 psych EP
BRYAN NEAL with The Checkmates EP


History of Stylers : http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/search/label/Stylers :

"Shirley Nair left the *Checkmates, to join the Silver Strings in the mid-60s. Robert Song, who was percussionist with The Flamingos Combo Band (check out posting on James Choa), replaced Nair. Although Song fronted the Checkmates as vocalist he was still playing with the Combo band for some time. He was also with The Stylers (check out previous posting under 'Stylers').
Song was the Johnny Ray - Cry - of Singapore and already in the music scene since the mid 50s. He also produced the Paul Anka Competition at the Rex Cinema in 1959 and other stage shows, since he was with Shaw Brothers then. He was best with jazz standards but could sing rock and roll. Just Walkin' In The Rain, was one of the standards he did.
Robert Song and The Checkmates performed at the Cellar and other venues that included the Golden Venus and the Celestial Room. Golden Venus was a rendezvous for British servicemen stationed in Singapore then.
Song, always with a personal touch, distributed postcards of the band while he was with the group. As a graphic artist and an excellent one at that, he designed the above card. Many of the huge cinema posters in the 60s, fronting the Capitol Cinema at North Bridge Road, were created by Robert Song.
The card (image) was a gift from the talented singer. Song had since migrated to the Philippines.
*The Checkmates comprised, Benny Chan (lead), Lanky Lawrence Lee (bass), Hans Hussein (rhythm) and Amir (drums). They were one of the top guitar groups in the 60s."
Posted by Andy Young

Ronnie See & The Stylers - His Story - Part II
Years With The Stylers.

"If I remember correctly, that must have been after my disbanding of Ronnie & The Burns around end of 1966. Paul Chua contacted me and discussed about regrouping of a band, Paul introduced Paul Kwok (from Kwok Brothers Singapore) together we further discussed about how to bring the band to popularity. I was then at the height of my music career as a pop singer, though hesitant about forming a band, and finally acceded to Paul’s enthusiasm to regroup again.
Initially, we were toying with the idea of restarting Ronnie & The Burns again but then my preference was to start a brand new name and so Ronnie & The Stylers was started from end 1966 to 1969 because that’s when I left them in search of my career. Spending three and a half years under Ronnie & The Stylers and decided to quit the band scene was quite painful then but there were only two choices; either I continue to be in the band and lead a band boy’s life or I quit and lead a different lifestyle as years wear on. In search for a career was my priority, although it was a painful decision to quit the band as the camaraderie was strong but I decided to leave without looking back.
Before leaving the Stylers, I was instrumental in making sure to get the band into recording so that they have a future too, then I met Tony Wong of Polar Bear Records and got the band into serious recording business (Chinese songs) with them. After the Stylers stabilized with Polar Bear Records, backing many Chinese singers, their income was good from the recordings. I left and went for an interview with a hi-fi store, got the job, and from thereon I work and continued to build a career path since.
In 1967, Ronnie & The Stylers was popular at the Celestial Room Tea Dance. This hotspot was owned by then (Boss of The Hock Lee Bus) Mr. Quek Sin Bock, Mr. Quek was my good friend, he asked if I could stage the band at Celestial Room Tea Dance, I agreed. So every Sunday Celestial Room was packed until many of our supporters them had to queue for entrance. We were the anchor band at Celestial Room from 1967 to early 1969 (for more than two years).
During 1967 to 1968 Ronnie & The Stylers had performed at the then National Theatre (River Valley) on many occasions. We also did gigs for the Ministry of Culture (then under Datok Othman Wok) and also at the Capitol Theatre Sunday Musical Express hosted by Tan Swee Leong. Ronnie & The Stylers had recorded a cover version EP with the Squirrel Records owned by a recording veteran Mr. Ngo Cheong. That was the first English recording we did and after that I left the band when they went into Chinese songs."
(The above article is Ronnie See's written communication with Lim L.A. in March, 2009. All rights reserved.)
Ronnie See is presently a successful and well-known business person, renowned and respected for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Posted by Andy Young*

"A Home Party with The Stylers.

Home parties were the craze in the 60s. With few high-rise apartments and many village houses, terrace houses, semi-detached bungalows, etc. neighbours were tolerant with their kampong spirit so noisy home gatherings playing guitar music would not attract police cars to the area.
I used to MC Xmas parties and one where The Stylers (pic) entertained. There was less rock n roll but more cha-cha-cha, rhumba and sentimental music. Between dances and cuddlings the guests were treated to finger-food and floor games (definitely clean).
The picture shows JOHN TEO (leader/lead guitar) seated right on the amplifier. Bands saved the income to buy instruments and band outfit. Remember the other members?
How much were they paid?"
Posted by Andy Young* Saturday, January 03, 2009

Stylers (Chinese Pop), Robert Song (Baba Pop)

You cannot discuss Singapore Chinese Pop without The Stylers. Like most local bands, this group started at home parties.
They had since made it big accompanying Chinese singers, comedians, appearing on Singapore tele and recording instrumentals that became very popular.
The recordings were similar to James Last non-stop ballroom music only the local versions used Cha-Cha & A-Go-G0 music. One that I like is their version of 'Stupid Cupid'.
Robert Song (far left) who is a baba and Singapore's Johnny Ray, sang with them. In the early 60s they played at a home party where I was MC.
Posted by Andy Young*

On http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/singapore/ :

"Although these songs are from their first single, The Stylers would eventually join the list of ‘Non-Stop Music’ bands like The Silverstones, Tony & The Polar Bear Five and The Travellers. I pestered Mack over at FarEastAudio to give me a brief history on the Non-Stop Music craze:

Non-stop instrumental dancing records go at least as for back as the 1950s orchestral work of Germany’s James Last. Non-stop ballroom has had a lasting influence in East and Southeast Asia. (In the mid-1990s, I purchased a wonderful cassette in the Philippines called “Non-Stop Cha Cha Extravaganza,” for example.) However, it is the Asian version of the “A Go-Go” pop medley sound that has captured the imaginations of Western record collectors in recent years. Influenced by instrumental rock groups from the US and UK, the 60s teen scenes of Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore produced numerous dancing albums. These albums often retained the ballroom sensibility of listing the intended dance styles next to the track titles (A Go-Go, Blues, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, etc.), but relied on a rock line-up of bass, drums, guitar and organ. As for the songs performed, Western pop hits, regional pop hits and even traditional folk melodies were all fair game.

By the 1970s, surviving instrumental bands like The Stylers seem to have gotten more ambitious, incorporating into their albums film themes, sound effects, “hi-fi” production values, and musical elements of the emerging disco sound. By this point, non-stop instrumental albums were less a teen dance phenomenon than they were fodder for the high-end stereo equipment of Asian audiophiles."

More info on http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/2008/08/stylers.html

"One of the most popular instrumental groups from the 60s. The group, led by the very versatile John Teo, released several Mandarin instrumental albums, including some vocal recordings in English. They also accompanied several popular artistes like Chang Siow Ying, Lena Lim, among others in their recordings. "

"The Stylers were setting the standards for other groups in the Chinese pop scene to follow. Their record releases were one of the highest among the local groups. The great John Teo has also released a few CDs on his own after the disbandment of the group. As a guitarist, John ranks within the likes of Reggie Verghese."

Videos Stylers : http://video.aol.co.uk/... & http://tvpog.com/... & http://www.video4viet.com/... & http://websociety.biz/... http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...
& http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...
Audio : http://recordrobot.blogspot.com/2007/06/stylers-party-hey.html
and on http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/singapore/ ; covers here
Videos of Silverstones on http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...
& http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...
& http://www.youtube.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...

PS. Biography on Quests here

On http://www.tofu-magazine.net/newVersion/pages/gogo.html :

In the Sixties, Mainland China was busy with the Cultural Revolution, which branded Rock & Roll as a sign of Western decadence. Nevertheless, the "Beat Wave" hit big in two Chinese territories that remained open to British influence, Hong Kong and Singapore. 


Here, groups were formed, signed, with records being released weekly. Furthermore, in multicultural Singapore bands were playing music but singing them in English (which was the major language), Malay and Chinese. Therefore fans had three streams to choose from. Cliff Richard and The Shadows played a concert in Singapore in late 1961 and that marked the beginning of the Beat group era with bands which were strictly instrumental. Most times, singers were an adjunct to the band. The arrival of the Beatles in 1963 changed the emphasis from the instrumental band scene to self-contained units with singers and instrumentalists, although strictly instrumental bands flourished for a long time yet in Singapore – as there was a need for instrumental music in many situations. Singapore's musical scene was a mix of different influences sung in English, Malay and Chinese. They ranged from popular bands like Quests who came from the early Sixties era, Naomi and The Boys who had a successful four year run, Antartics who personified the second wave of R&B tinged groups, then Malay groups like D'4 Ever, Les Kafila's, Mike Ibrahim and The Nite Walkers, Swallows, Ismail Haron and The Guys and two guests from Thailand - Dynamics and Fox. The music ranges from Pop R & B, early Heavy to the plain weird. It is a mix of Western influences and Asian ethnic diversity produce something unique that can only be called Singaporean pop.

'60s Singaporean garage/beat Bands : http://60spunk.m78.com/singaporean.html

where they mention a Universal Records series called "Treasures From The Past" (never saw it). "These releases constitute records, which were originally released by Philips between the years 1964 and 1968, which constitute the golden years of Singapore pop." Included on volume 1 are Checkmates, Jets, Sonny Bala and The Moonglows, Bryan Neale, Bobby Lambert and The Dukes, Reyes Sisters, Henry Suriya, Shirley Nair, Mike and Herb, Silver Strings, Evey Lyn, Siglap Five, Valentine and The Phantoms, Cells Unlimited,  The Crescendos and Naomi and The Boys second EP.

Garage/Beat/R&B bands like The Straydogs, The Pests, Infested, Fried Ice, The Jets and High Ground receive also more attention.

Recommended there also is Read Joseph's book "Legends of GOLDEN VENUS-Bands that rocked Singapore from the '60s to '90s" with 10 interviews, 128 pages with many photos on Timesone books.

Cells Unlimited, The Esquires and Siglap Five receive attention on http://60spunk.m78.com/singaporean2.html
More photos on http://60spunk.m78.com/singaporeanbandspix.html

Another 60s Singapore page on http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/
where you can find some info about the release "More Singapore ’60s: Treasures From The Vault." :
Unlike its five-disc predecessor, this is a double-disc affair, featuring more music from artistes like The Silver Strings, The Checkmates and The Crescendos, as well as tracks from the Girvin Sisters, Ernie Djohan And Her Buana Suara, Ray Johnson And The Diamond Four, and Aida Mustafa (image).

More sleeves you can find on http://www.pbase.com/sid_presley/the_record_collection&page=5

On http://www.myspace.com/singaporesixties you can find record sleeves of the following bands (including Cambodian, Thai, Hong Kong, Indonesian and Malaysian and perhaps some Japanese bands) :

The Cyclones, The Strollers, The Merry Lads, The Crescendos, Golden Cups, Teddy Robin and The Playboys, The Lotus, Quests, OK Boys, Karnabeats, Kafila’s, Mystics, Mysterians, Zoundcrackers, Strollers, Les Coasters, Naomi and The Boys, Trailers, The Singers, Tempters, Pebbles, Crescendos, Chopsticks, Les Coasters, Golden Cups, Stray Dogs, Blue Star Sisters, Silvertones, Green Green grass, Han River Angels, Spiders, The Saint, Sakura, The Brother’s Hawk, Mod East, Lions, D’Pioneers, The Bees, Maurice Patton & The Melodians, The Menace, The Stompers, River Angels, The Phantoms, Commanders, Spiders, The Equals, The Fabulous Echoes, The Spiders, The Dynamites, Son Ensemble, The Corsairs, Elly Kassim, The Melodians, The Atoms, Elec Dynamica, Ernie Djohan, The Menace, Starlights, The Rocking Skippers, Happy Melodians, Wes Cossacks, Saints, Fabulous Echoes, Vigilantes, Saints, Fabulous Falcons, The Lotus, The Mystics, The Magic Carpet, The Surfers, Danny Diaz and the Checkmates, Titiek Sandhora, The Beavers, Jacks, Trailers, Tempters, The Carnabeats, October Cherries, The Tones, Ernie Dan Oslan, Koes, White Crane, Idaly Sisters with The Experiment, Inspirations, Black Jacks, Joe Junior, Kong Ling and the Fabulous Echoes, New Topnoties, Reynettes, Rita Chao, Straydogs, Bryan Neale with The checkmates, Tony and Terry with Spencer, Blue Diamonds, Blue Star Sisters, Chopsticks, Dukes, Wes Cossacks, Charlie and The White Cloud Orchestra, White Crane, Rocking Skippers, W.S. Band, The Impossibles, The Changs and some more Hong Kong bands.

More 60's/70s band/singer's  pages :

Rita Chao : http://www.myspace.com/ritachaomusic
Penny Lim : http://www.myspace.com/pennylim

An intro on Singapore's R&B years

Some audio and intro on some bands on http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/singapore/

Singapore pop music documentary : http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/thenewsdesk.aspx?sid=498
in 6 parts which were described like :

"* Boy Bands to Call Our Own : The music in the 60s and how it was part of a generation influenced by icons from the UK like Cliff Richard and The Beatles as well as growing up in Singapore in the 60s;
* Music unifies communities : Not only did English language bands like The Quests and The Trailers have a huge following in the 60s, Malay and Mandarin language bands like Siglap 5 and The Stylers also developed a parallel following. We see how music became a common language despite ethnic tensions of the period;
* Soloists of the 70s : How the 70s saw the start of the end for bands and the rise of soloists like Rahimah Rahim, Veronica Young, Huang Qingyan, and Fatimah Amin.
* Rising from the ashes : How the 80s was a difficult time for many bands and musicians as they faced numerous obstacles like competition from the karaoke craze and Filipino bands, and how local bands like Heritage and the Xinyao movement in Chinese music managed to survive;
* In search of the Singapore Identity - Musicians in the mid to late 80s such as Dick Lee and Mark Chan who began on a quest for the Singapore Identity through music;
* Underground and happening - How the 90s and beyond saw the rise of musicians like Stephanie Sun and Kit Chan who made it big in the regional circuit against the background of a thriving experimental scene."

More music from Singapore 60s on http://mocamborainbow.blogspot.com/

More music : http://modcentric.blogspot.com/search/label/singapore%20sixties

page 2 : CAMBODIA, page 3 : THAILAND, page 4 : BURMA ,
page 5 : VIETNAM,  page 6 : HONG KONG, CHINA, VARIOUS,...
old bands
new bands
intro on the Singapore 60s scene & links

V.A. : "Singapore A-Go-Go"
V.A. : "Let's A Go-Go"
Subliminal FrequenciesV.A. : Singapore A-Go-Go (SING,1960s)***°

The earliest beat bands (after rock and roll standards) in Singapore were much under the influence of The Shadows who played in Singapore around 1961. Also the earliest period of bands like The Stylers and The Silverstones (listed as The Silvertones here ???) amongst other groups had a similar attractive style. The generation after that was influenced by what is called the R&B pop music (Yardbirds, Manfred Mann,..) making a whole generation of bands (Checkmates, Quest,..), rooted also in the earlier rock’n roll, under the simultaneous influence of British and American bands. All bands were in fact in that period song related bands, singing in English, Malay and Chinese. In that way also Asian influenceswere a e part of Singapore pop music style. Most known English bands were The Quests and The Trailers, while Siglap 5 sung in Malay and The Stylers in Mandarine and Hokkien*. For this new version of the Stylers (-they also featured also Checkmates band member Shirley Nair-), they found a way to make a good living by backing all these Chinese singers.
Leaving the rock'n roll and Shadows spheres, Chinese sentimental music was the core with occasional rumba and cha-cha-cha. Not only singers, but also comedians were accompanied, with several television appearances.
This new Chinese pop music style possibly meant a way for the Chinese departments to develop further their identity after first losing the cultural centre in Shanghai and forming a new scene in Hong Kong (see my webpage about that here), a few more genres, different sorts of songs and elements of Chinese cultural heritage found its way in these song expressions. Because the original Shanghai scene used children songs, a sort of naive sort of singing was part of the tradition. Other influences were other traditional Chinese music like Peking opera. While the Chinese pop that came from Shanghai and developed further in Hong Kong with Latin rhythms, this was now was mixed with beat/surf music, and, like which always combined with Chinese music well, some occasional country & western. The new dance style which came forth from it was called ‘a-go-go’ (-completely different from Korea where it was much more was a different term for stretched psychedelic excursions-), or ‘off beat cha-cha’. This scene was comparable to a mix of the Shanghai-Hong Kong scene with teenage Thai beat music. Important singers were Rita Chou, Sakura, Teresa Teng, Chang Siao Ying and Huang (or Wong) Qing Yuan. Also listed is Linda Yong. After this short period of Chinese expressions the scene was quickly dissolved so this artefact is just a remainder of what it had to offer.

The compilation gives a perfect listen. The often childish songs (there's a nice cat song!) are charming (and a few times surprising) crossovers with surf elements, (with occasional fuzz, and Chinese music instrument imitations with electric guitar). At times naivity of the smile of happiness is slightly annoying. You can also hear a few Chinese covers of western songs like v"Luna, Luna" and "funny,funny". Good to have also a few instrumentals reminding us of the earlier Shadows-influenced period, nicely adapted into the Chinese pop context.
22 tracks of good restored sonic quality ! A nice historical document.

Listed are Grace Lee/Lena Lim/Chew Yan/John Teo and the The Stylers, Linda Yong/Lim Ling/Dong Dong/Lim Chay and The Silverstones, Charlie Electric Guitar's Band's Sound Of Japan, Mei Feng with Tony and the Polar Bear Five, Chen Jie and the Golden Melody.

Audio on http://www.juno.co.uk/...
Description on http://www.dustygroove.com/item.php?id=s5zsk5fjdh
Label info : http://www.sublimefrequencies.com/item.asp?Item_id=60&cd=Singapore-A-Go-Go-Vol.-1

* The following site mentions that the Quest also cooperated with Mandarine singer Fu Suyin :

More info and record sleeves of Stylers and The Silverstones ->
Silver Tortoise Rec.       V.A. : Let's A-Go-Go (SING/INDO/MAL,1960s)***'
         -Singapore and Southeast Asian Pop Scene 1964-69-

Compiler Sid Presley rather recently (2001) discovered the East-Asian 60s pop scene when visiting Singapore after discovering The Mysterians (with one of the most interesting sounds on this album), a record which made him start to collect more than 600 titles from the region, of which his favourite ones are compiled  here. Like the title says, it is a light danceable 60s pop collection, which is well compiled and enjoyable to listen to, also thanks to the inclusion of a couple of attractive surf instrumentals (the Spaceman track for instance is worthy of mention)  in between the go-go songs, which vary from rock’n roll (one Asian Elvis clone) and twist to originals and odd cover versions, mostly of awful but also very charming wrongly done versions (the Boots are walking song version for instance). In between that the few Chinese tracks are clearly different and add extras of exotic charm to the collection. A couple garage tracks, a few Beatles influences and an occasional psych tracking (the instrumental part of the pop song from Ismael Haron & The Guys) can be heard.  Pure stylistically Dara Puspita (just released on Subl.Freq.) is pure musically amongst one of better or more distinctive stylistic bands. Some of the listed names are known in the far east. Others are obscure and perhaps better so. A fine consistent, joyful exotic pop compilation.

Some audio on http://boomkat.com/... & http://www.midheaven.com/... & http://digital.othermusic.com/...
Short review further on http://www.lunamusic.net/more_essentials/page43.html
& with audio on http://www.aquariusrecords.org/cat/internationalasia4.html
NoSmoke Rec.   V.A. : Java-Java: Indonesia Screaming Fuzz Vol.1 -LP/CD-(INDO,comp.2010)????

Mixed compilation of Indonesian & Singaporean bands like The Swallows, The Peels and Steps

Review on http://www.psychemusic.org/indo60s.html#anchor_141

Links for The Swallows : http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...
Steps : http://www.garagehangover.com/?q=Steps

review here


Do you have more info/ more ideas on South East Asian crossover music ? E-mail me
If you live near Antwerpen people with a special collection
you can be invited as guest to the radioshow..
cooperations with the website are apreciated.

go back to index page