29 June 2007

The story of The Crescendos



From my interview with Raymond Ho and John Chee on 24 June 2007, I've put together a mini Cresendos digital repository. For visual reference, you can check out articles and record sleeves I've scanned here. If you have any material you'd like to contribute, do let me know.

The Crescendos began with 3 schoolboys - Raymond Ho, John Chee and Leslie Chia. Music was an after-school hobby, a means to "stay out of trouble". In 1961, the three of them took part as a three-part harmony group in the Radio Singapore Talentime, which threw the group into the limelight.

Audio Clip (John): The 1961 Talentime and the gigs that came after that.

For the 1962 Talentime, the group decided to inject a new element, and found it in a female singer, Susan Lim. Susan was a friend of Leslie's sister and was all of 13 years old. She fitted right into the group, with the older boys taking care of her like their kid sister. The Crescendos were very well-received because at that time it was still uncommon for local groups to feature a female lead singer, backed by male vocalists.

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): Meeting Susan

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): A Novelty Factor?

Even though The Crescendos didn't win the Talentime, they got a Philips recording contract (even before the Talentime Finals!), making them the first local group ever to be signed by an international record label.

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): The Philips Recording Contract

Their first record, the Mr Twister/Frankie single, sold over 10, 000 copies in Malaysia, placing it in the Philips World Top Ten. Such was the record's popularity, that in Singapore, it outsold a similar song by Connie Francis. Intense radio exposure was one of the factors that contributed to their success. It can be said that The Crescendos' success ushered in the Golden Era of Singapore music, which saw numerous local bands performing and recording.

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): The First Record

The Crescendos - Frankie

The Crescendos went on to score a hattrick on the Philips' International Top Ten, with three singles in a row being placed among the best sellers in European and Asian markets on the Philips label. Their second single, "In The Good Old Summertime", and their third, "The Boy Next Door" (an original composition by the label), sold over 10,000 copies each.

Audio Clip (Raymond): On recording

The Crescendos - Bengawan Solo

In spite of the changing music trends as the 60s wore on (from Everly Brothers to The Rolling Stones), The Crescendos stuck to their trademark style of harmonised vocals. Still, the band evolved to include Israel Lim on bass and Peter Soh on drums, so that The Crescendos could appear on stage as a self-contained group.

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): Evolution of the group - Peter Soh and Israel Lim

The Crescendos stopped performing and recording for four years in 1966, while Susan enrolled in University. The group had the intention to resume after she finished her studies. Sadly, it was not to be as in her fourth year at Uni, she disappeared on February 8 1970 while picnicking off the East Coast of Malaysia. The last record that Susan put out, shortly before her accident was a solo release, backed by The Thunderbirds.

Susan Lim & The Thunderbirds - With Every Little Tear

Susan was only 22. As you can tell from all her recordings (from her cuts with The Crescendos right up to the final solo record), the Singapore music scene lost one of its best female singers.

Looking back, Raymond and John believe that their success was due to being at the right place at the right time. For The Crescendos, it was all about the love of music.

Audio Clip (John and Raymond): Just For The Love Of Music

My sincere thanks to Raymond and John for allowing me the interview opportunity!

14 comments:

sid presley said...

Fantastic work!!!

Georgianne may I please repost some of your photos in my Myspace gallery???

rockin'n'rollin' said...

thks for this nice discovery!

modcentric said...

thanks for your comments! =) sure, you can go ahead and repost the photos.

spikedcandy said...

very well done :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent works. I grew up in the sixties and was an ardent fan of the 60s groups of Singapore. The Quests, Susan Lim & The Crescendos,Naomi & The Boys. Those were the days!Wonder if these golden oldies will ever be released on CD?

Anonymous said...

Great work, congratulations. Hard work too.

Wrote to you some time ago and wonder if you visited my blog. Please provide some comments for improvement. It's at:
singapore60smusic.blogspot.com

Cheers,
Andy

Buy Cialis said...

Pretty interesting I have to say they really bold with this girl as their lead vocalist back then, but that's the courage that is required to make a band grow and expand

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Derrick said...

Hi There,

Thank you for your interview and the lovely info about the band. I would like to get in touch with the band members for a possible film idea. Would really appreciate it if you could point me to the right direction.

My email add is derrick@sightlines.com.sg

Would really appreciate your help.

Thank you!

Derrick.

Derrick said...

Hi There,

Thank you for your interview and the lovely info about the band. I would like to get in touch with the band members for a possible film idea. Would really appreciate it if you could point me to the right direction.

My email add is derrick@sightlines.com.sg

Would really appreciate your help.

Thank you!

Derrick.