Sunday, February 25, 2018

How Rock n Roll Changed The World Part One By Michael Bangar

This blog has its own music historian and this article is more for readers who may not be familiar with rock n roll, its high-jiving and skirt-flaring activities. 

A voracious reader, Michael Bangar is here again with a new series explaining the 'influence' of 60's music and the personalities that came with it. 

Thank you, Mike.

How The British Music  Invasion Of The 1960's Changed Rock and  Roll and Pop Music Forever. Part One.

Hi Andy! 

I just want to share with blog readers my version of this phenomenon.

It was the 1950's and most of us were probably in school. Those who owned radiograms (Hi-Fi sets in today's terms) were quite well-off. Most of us grew up listening to the radio and the radio stations were Radio Singapore and Radio Malaya, broadcasting in our four languages. 

Some even owned Rediffusion sets (if you recall, those cute rectangular shaped black audio-box sets with a built-in speaker). Rediffusion had The Silver Network in English (few hours in the morning were allotted daily for the Malay listeners) and The Golden Network in Chinese (a few hours were also allotted daily for the Indian listeners ). TV only arrived on our shores in 1963! When it did, the screen was 19 inches square and pictures in black and white. 
 A Reddifusion set (earliest cable) and a Radiogram that spins vinyl.
The music coming out of these contraptions, being played by the DJ's from that period, are classified as standards. Songs by American artistes included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Loius Armstrong, Perry Como, Johnny Ray, Andy Williams, Vic Damone and Frankie Lane and the female artistes were Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jo Stafford, Cleo Laine, Kaye Starr, even Marilyn Monroe. There were many more.

In the year 1955, a new kind of beat music was slowly sweeping across the USA. It took the youngsters by storm. They were all dancing to the beat. A young DJ named Allan Freed was watching all this action. In his mind, he dreamt it up: all these kids are rocking and rolling to this music. And that was how it came about - the phrase Rock and Roll. 
Illustration only. Pop singers from the 50's onwards.
This new music landed on our shores in  1956. I had just started school. Primary One to be exact, at Telok Kurau Primary School in Lorong J, Telok Kurau Road. Almost all of the young kids on this side of the world, including myself was suddenly taken over by Rock and Roll. 

To some extent with some of us, our school work took a back seat. I used to cut out and even collect photos and features of these new music stars from newspapers and magazines.

First to arrive here via vinyl records (78's and a bit later 45's and 33's I remember) were Pat Boone, Bill Haley and His Comets, Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, etc. The King, Elvis Presley took a little longer. But when he did - he came upon us like a ton of bricks. Wow!
Illustration only. Pop singers from the 50's onwards.
All of a sudden, our airwaves were invaded by songs like Love Letters In The Sand, Rock Around The Clock, Poor Little Fool, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Peggy Sue, Summertime Blues. And then The King attacked us with Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock and the list goes on. 

Then Great Britain gave us their rock and roll stars: Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Frankie Vaughn, Billy Fury and a year or so later Cliff Richard accompanied by His Shadows. What A Time It Was! Life was never the same for me after that.

Somehow they were all Caucasian artistes. Their music was classified as Rock and Roll. The African-American artistes like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Bo Diddley didn't quite make it big time over here. Their music was classified as Rhythm and Blues. But they were a huge influence across the Atlantic and in Great Britain especially. 
Illustration only: Pop singers during the era Michael Bangar discussed.
There were also Blues Artistes like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, BB King, Buddy Guy and Freddie King. They were the heroes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, The Searchers, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Freddy And The Dreamers. These were artistes that were involved in the so-called Great British Music Invasion of the mid-1960's that changed popular music forever.

Over in the USA in the mid-1950's, the people in charge were not too pleased with the arrival of this new music categorised as Rock and Roll (calling it the black men's music and even the music of Satan) and tried their best to suppress it even to the point of destroying it. They didn't like the way the young were absorbing the music and grooving to the rhythm and the beat. So, when Rock n Roll was sweeping the US, they went on a rampage to destroy the first generation of rock and roll stars. 
The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens were killed when their plane crashed into a mountainside.
They charged Jerry Lee Lewis and eventually imprisoned him for marrying his 13-year-old niece (daughter of his bassist). Chuck Berry was also jailed for income tax evasion. Worried that he might be next Little Richard (Richard Penniman) took up religion and became a pastor. He also threw all his jewellery into a river. 

Meanwhile, in a more positive endeavour, Ricky Nelson took a step back away from the spotlight. The King: Elvis Presley was drafted into the military and sent away to Germany. A few years later, when he returned he had tamed down and lost a bit of his raw rock and roll edge.

In 1957 Eddie Cochran (above) was killed in a sports car accident. Video from:

In 1957 Eddie Cochran, just like James Dean, was killed in a sports car accident. Then in 1959 while on a concert tour, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed when their plane crashed into a mountainside. Almost all of the first. generation rockers were out of action. 

Prime movers to this notion were the heads of religious organisations and church leaders. They were of the opinion that this music is corrupting and will eventually destroy all American youth. How wrong they were. 

Looking at it now and how it has turned out, even church hymns and songs have incorporated the new rhythm into their music. So the music management in the US created this new breed of pop of stars who were clean-cut and wholesome. Very marketable and they took over the pop music scene. 
Illustration only: Top pop groups from the 60's
These good-looking, well-groomed stars were Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte, Brian Hyland, Johnny Tillotson, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton and others. Which a while later made Jerry Lee Lewis give his famous quote,  "Suddenly there were a whole lotta Bobbies !"

An exciting five-piece band to come on the scene during that time were The Beachboys and their surf music. They had a string of hits. Then in 1962 Chubby Checker came along with The Twist and started a new dance craze. He had a string of hits too. 

So while real and exciting first-generation rock and roll was watered down in the US, across the Atlantic in the UK it made a great impact on the young English people. Through records, movies and television the British were influenced by what is now termed Classic Rock and Roll.
Chubby Checker with his big hit, Let's Twist Again. Video: easylyricsong3609.

Meanwhile, in the year 1957 in the US, The Ventures started the guitar instrumental band trend with their first hit Walk Don't Run. The following year, Britain gave us the stylish Shadows with their red Fenders who filled the British stage and hit the world with Apache (now voted The Best Guitar Instrumental Song Of All Time). They became stars in their own right. 

Prior to their success, they were known as the backing band for one Cliff Richard (now Sir Cliff) who gave the world his first big hit Move It, followed by Please Don't Tease, Living Doll, Travelling Light, and many other popular numbers.

This article has been written directly from an SMS received and no references have been made to prove that the information provided is true. Mr Michael Bangar is an avid reader and article has been written in good faith. I welcome comments from readers. 

Read Part 2:

Read other Michael Bangar Memory Bank Articles:
The Ventures and The Shadows.
Images: Google. 
YouTube Videos.
This article is copyrighted.


Richard Khan said...

U said only Caucasian artists made it here not true The Platters,Harry Belafonte,Fat Domino's,Johnny Mathis & Ray Charles did have an impact

Anonymous said...

Love these energetic songs as it made me happy and be free from thoughts. It is an energy booster and opposite of 'The Olive Tree' in another post.

A great article to summarise and share with us!



Re Eddie Cochran’s death,I wish to say he was not killed in a sports car accident like the famous James Dean.Eddie had finished his concert tour in England and was returning to USA when the taxi crashed on the way to the airport.


My appreciation of music started some time in 1955 - as a 6 year old. I am no bassist but strangely the first instrument that started my music world rolling was a upright double bass at a luthier's shop who was adjusting the sound post, There I learnt something - I think many bassist may disagree - Bass with no treble is trouble. As for rock and roll in my humble opinion why it shook the music world and started the world rock and rolling was because it was music that people found easy to relate to and carefree to enjoy. Haha Cheerio have a nice Sunday.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Stephen and Michael. You are both true-blue music enthusiasts, replying to articles posted with immediate response. Also thanks to others who LIKE this post. This posting is particularly long and I thank Michael Bangar for taking time to write it because there are FB-rians who take time to read each post. :-)

Thanks to Richard Khan too from THE OCTOBER CHERRIES, who took time to write in.


Truly All of these Oldies are part of our lives,we grow up with them in this lifetime n so fortunate we are born at the right time the right place n the rights of freedom to listen,,!!??


Hi, Andy. It's so nice to see you. I have never lived in Singapore but I'm very interested in Singaporean pop history.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I think so Ericbronson. Hey man, thanks for the reply. 🙏Genuine reader you are sir. Must tell you about my Uncle Ray collection one day. Michael Bangar has quite a following. Great response here. Thank you all.

FRED CHING said...

That’s an epic story. I wish I could go back to this era. Music ain’t like this no more. Thanks for sharing. Those were some days, Brother Andy.


What Fred Ching said was exactly what it ought to have been, gone were those Golden ol' days it's truly straight from d heart man,, that era was the Magical Carpet Ride era, now the magic carpet flew off n couldn't be found,,!!??😇🤒😨😵😱🙃👽👾

Sure to say U r a faithful follower of Uncle Ray who is 93 going on 94,I had talked with him five times,once in Macau Pier,twice in TST n twice on d phone sending request to a friend which he kindly complied, truly a Marvelous Ol'KiddO,, Hurrahs for him he's not only Uncle,he a Soul Bro n a Constant buddy to all of Us,,,, with him around the World every day is never Blue,,!!??

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Fred and Ericbronson for your informational pieces. I am learning from both of you with your comments.

Thank you, Lim Kuan Min too for your beautiful emoji. Another pop 60's enthusiast Lim is still known as the Singing Principal. He sings well and interprets serious pieces like ONLY YOU and GREAT PRETENDER (Platters) with pitch-perfect falsetto and finesse. 👍

SPYeo said...

Hey Chief,

Why was the group THE BEATLES left out in your write-up? Were you only writing about the 50's music? The Beatles were born in 1957 and overwhelmingly a popular music group in the 60's. For your next article, music in the 60's.

Oh, just merely curious about it.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

He was writing about the period before THE BEATLES became famous. And not too many years to stretch. And his focus was on the US and not the UK as the Beatles were still in their infancy although they started in 1958.

Their first hit was in 1962, LOVE ME DO and BEATLEMANIA caught on in 1963 but only became world stars in 1964.

MIke I hope I answered correctly? More comments from you?


Bro' Andy,

I need to mention: all these musical facts I have gathered over the years are from my late 1950s years listening to Rediffusion with then legendary Broadcasters Larry Lai, Tan Swee Leong, Peggie Ross, Noreen Sales & a bit later Mike Ellery & Eric Lim. They had the programme 'Spin Around' - 'The British Top 20', always hosted by Mr Lai.

Then in the 60s, I listened a lot, to Rediffusion, the radio Singapore & Malaysia's English stations. They had their fair share of legendary broadcasters Tan Hock Lai, Tan Tock Peng, and a bit later Vernon Palmer, Claud Doral, George Favacho, Dorothy Tan, Joan Chee, etc.

Hit Parade shows were on weekly: American Billboard Hot 100 hosted by US legend Casey Kasem, American Top 20 by Shadoe Stevens. We even had a weekly Country Music Hit Chart. All of these, if my memory serves me right! So there might be a few mistakes, every now & then on my part.

No intention of malice! My sincerest apologies, folks!

Warmest Regards To All The Blog Readers!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

What I love about this posting and the comments is the energy Michael Bangar's story has stirred.

Memories fade and die when we don't highlight the nostalgic aspects of life. If everything is in dollars and cents and solid statistics we may turn off the flow of this energy source.

Thanks again everyone for your INVALUABLE comments. And my good friend Mr Michael Bangar for taking so much time to write his stories.


Talking about the Reddifusion days I remembered Noreen Sales hosting “From Your House” where a household would select their favourite songs and she also hosted a programme where the listener could be the announcer or DJ.

Some of the personalities left out were Jack Carnegie , Marion Sullivan Harry Martinez, Len Thorne, Vince Krysman and others.There was also a programme called “The Make Believe Ballroom” where the top songs were played for several hours. I think the host was Martin Block.

Casey Kasem was my favourite DJ caused he provided lots of information on the singer as well as the song. Well, those were the Reddifusion days.


Nice memories Michael.

A friend once commented that we are the lucky ones, having grown up and grown old with the rock ' n roll revolution. A period of intense creativity and development that the world has seen and as of today not been repeated or emulated.

The generations after us, the millennials and the post-millennials would probably have a better understanding and depth if they had gone through this. Treasure this, all that have gone through this period.

FACEBOOK said...

Thanks to the following for LIKING this post:

Stephen Han
Koh Sui Pang
Rose Khoo
Jennie Law
Ericbronson Wong
Fred Ching
Ann Rowena Lim
Roop Singh
Kwandy Yao
Monica Gwendoline Pestana Ho
Van Der Beek Philip
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Tan Ser Kiong
Horace Wee


Hey Andy!

Thanks! Typos: Louis ( Lious ) & my mistake (Cochran - not Cockran). My Apologies! Otherwise all Perfect. Let me know when & I'll forward the continuation.

Richard Khan's reply I just read. I totally agree. Memory slip up, Bro' A!

I was trying to point out more on how in the US the same type of music was separated into 2 categories on racial grounds. And also in our Singapore context, how the Caucasian artistes were bigger than the African-American ones. Just my honest observation.

In hindsight, in today's terms decades later: Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, The Ventures, The Shadows, The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin remain more popular compared to their AA counterparts Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, The Platters, The Temptations, etc. With the exception of Jimi Hendrix, Universal Guitar Hero in both sections.

Need mentioning too: the British Music Invasion Artistes played a huge part in pulling down the racial barrier on both sides of the Atlantic. When they musically conquered the US, beginning in 1964, they openly spoke about who their musical influences were. All were American R & R, R & B & Blues Artistes. Some of the US Blues & Rhythm & Blues Artistes like BB King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles have acknowledged it.

So when the racial barriers came down many AA artistes like Michael Jackson, his sister Janet, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston became megastars. Again, just my sincere view & opinion!

Cheers, Andy!

(Mr Michael Bangar wrote the posting and wanted to rectify certain points he made. Thank you, Mike.)