The Strollers Revisited

Joe

Joe hoards and shares.

25 Responses

  1. corpsie says:

    dyn-o-mite!

  2. Charles Tyler says:

    Hey – great to see my old mates The Strollers experiencing a bit of a well-deserved revival! Just correct my name please – it’s Charles not Chris 🙂

  3. Joe Kidd says:

    ahh! Mr, Tyler himself is here. We are much honoured, sir. I do wonder if you would agree to a small interview detailing the days when you were here in Malaysia in the early 70s. I believe we can learn much from you, especially Malaysian rock’n’roll in the days of bell-bottoms!

    Cheers,

    Joe

  4. number2son says:

    I was wondering what the popularity of the Strollers are in Malaysia. I know there were a couple of Strollers bars opened in Bangsar and Taman Megah (this was a while ago). I’ve done searches on the net and up until a while ago (Thanks to Mr Charles Tyler & his wonderful website), there was no prescence at all.

    Not living in Malaysia I wouldn’t know but having heard the Strollers stylings (my parents slight fans of theirs) I know there’s a new generation who appreciates their music (me, My wife, b & s-inlaw). With the Spanish company buying te rights, maybe there is a market. I’d be interested to see where this goes.

  5. Joe Kidd says:

    I believe The Strollers is well-known among the 50s set. Those who were themselves wearing bell-bottoms back in the 70s. I think the usual kids who come to ricecooker to check upon local “underground” music content must be scratching their heads on the name, some may even argue on the need to feature such a band here. However I do believe if they would ask their parents, especially if they grew up in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, a good tale or two would be gladly told.

    The problem with Malaysian rock’n’roll history, or even the general popular culture, is that there’s no documentation and such. No books. No Docos. Nada. What we have is a huge vinyl repository at the national radio station (RTM) which has never been mined. Apart from that we have scattered and buried reports, interviews, reviews and features on the local newspapers’ achive, which is not accessible, unless you pay for the privilege.

    I think The Strollers went on to become a club act, just like The Alleycats (who actually started back in psychedelic 1969 in Penang!), This is typical with most of the early 70s rock bands. Carimakan.

    On the assumption that “the Spanish company buying the rights,” I’m not so sure of that. I have seen a couple instances where small labels in Europe bootleging the recordings and remastered the cassette tapes or vinyls they found and sell it to curious music fans. Just check out the “Steam Kodok” compilation.

  6. totziens says:

    “Little Boy in Moscow “that I downloaded sounds like the songs I grew up on when my sister was crazy about Beatles & Bee Gees during the 70s (she was a teenager & I was probably 4-5 years old). The “pop” sounds from the vinyl that I believe the MP3 was recorded from reminds me of the good old days.

    Yeah, those days I was crazy about the “cowboy” songs of Johnny Cash too. I got to know that I listened to Johnny Cash at the age of 4-5 just about 1-2 months ago when I accidentally came across the song that I loved when I was a kid on the radio in Traxx FM. Whenever the song was played, I would take out my toy guns and my father’s hat to pretend that I was a cowboy.

    Oh Boy! Good old memories!

  7. number2son says:

    Joe Kidd. I know what you mean about the 50’s set being a fan of theirs. There’s a Malaysian restaurant near where I live that’s owned by ppl of that age from Klang and they remember Michael Magness quite well.
    Since I have a particular interest in Stroller’s material, you’ve pointed me in the right direction to RTM. I may have a contact which may be able to get me the old LPs. Converting them to MP3 may be fun. Mostly for a personal collection as my new found family seems to like them.
    Apart from Michael Magness working at the Equatorial after th eband break up and Nand Kumar passing away, I’m not too sure what happened to the rest of them.
    As for a lack of a fan site, that could be an interesting proposition.

    • PeterGhouse says:

      Here is some info that lots of people are asking for. Michael Magness and I (Peter Ghouse) started out as The Blue Dominoes in Klang. We played heaps of corporate gigs and when we parted, Mike joined The Strollers and I joined The Teenage Hunters (Terry Thaddeus…lead) Mike did a stint with the Quests of Singapore as did, I (support for Yardbirds ..Jimmy Page; and Walker Brothers)Mike is now in Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia and Jimmy D’Oliverio working in Perth, Australia. Would love to hear from anyone to chinwag of days gone by.

  8. number2son says:

    BTW.. Joe.. What’s your connection to all of this?

  9. Charles Tyler says:

    Hi again to RiceCooker – and thanks for the correction 🙂 I guess I could do an interview Joe Kidd – but I think you should really track down some of the home-grown talent to interview rather than me. I was always an outsider being from the UK and my memory is pretty hazy anyway – I really don’t remember much and I was only in Malaysia for that one year in 1972 🙂 Yes, weren’t bell bottoms fabulous! The other bands I knew personally were the Grim Preachers and Ash Wednesday… anyone else remember them?

    I have a few pictures of the Ash Wednesday gang – Sachi, Billy, Charles and Boy on the roof of the apartment I stayed in in Bukit Bintang that year – and at a gig somewhere – Ipoh I think. I also have just a couple of pictures of the stage at the (in)famous ‘Camp Semangat Woodstock’ – Malaysia’s first outdoor 2-day rock concert that was put on by various expats including myself – and which got us all thrown out of the country for our pains 🙂 The authorities really didn’t like rock and roll much – found it threatening. Since I was forced to leave I went to India to study Yoga for a while. This put an end to the recordings I was making at King Studios – I had almost completed an album there…I wonder who inherited the tapes? Does anyone know? Lots of lost history and mystery and intrigue.

    Re ‘Little Boy in Moscow’ – that was the ‘B’ side of the single I made with the Strollers. It was the ‘A’ side ‘Everything’s gonna be fine’ that was the hit song…… The single was produced by Ean Jay for Audio and Design productions and came out on the Wax label as Wax – 1. The engineer was S.F. Loh. Anyone looking at my Soundclick site can find both songs there – and some notes with the lyrics … yes us 50+ year old’s must be such antiques to most readers of this blog! I can tell you young folks that the only problem with getting older is that the body begins to creak and groan and let you down. You can remain young inside – I am basically still a teenager at heart – so may you stay forever young also 🙂

    cheers,

    Charles

    • Yanni says:

      Woodstock at Camp Semangat was one of a kind in Malaysia history.It’s the first and the last and I’am happy
      to be part of it.My picture is all over the front page on every newspaper and that didn’t go well with my life
      after that.thanks Charles …those were the days.

  10. totziens says:

    Charles, for your information, the authorities still don’t like rock and roll (I consider punk rock, indie, metal, etc as a part of rock and roll..at least I consider rock and roll as the roots of these genres). They still pose a lot of headache to everyone in the non-commercialised music scene. Looks like nothing much has improved since the 50s 🙂

    Would you be interested to be in a radio show during your visit to Malaysia? Now, there is a radio show in RTM at Traxx FM (formerly called Blue Network and Radio 4…I am not sure what they call it in the 50s) that caters for modern rock on Thu and classic rock on Friday. Perhaps it would be interesting to have you and your friends in the show. I am just a friend of a deejay at the station. If the deejay is interested to have you there, it will be great. You may contact me directly at totziens@yahoo.com

  11. Joe Kidd says:

    number2son. If you wanna find copies of the vinyl, I found a few on ebay when I was doing a cursory research on The Strollers. I guess you need to be quite vigilant though and stake out the vinyl trading market. And yeah, collector scums are making it pretty expensive!

    as for the question about my connection to all this, well, I’m a music fan first and foremost; and local rock’n’roll and its history is one major area which I find very interesting, if not important. I spent a lot of years writing about local music in the national newspapers, mainly on the more punk rock/alternative/indie/underground part of it, but my interest does not stop there.

    When we talk about the “underground”, in terms of music scenes, older people I met always claim that that term does not only apply on recent local thrash metal/alternative/punk/hardcore scene which started in the mid-80s. They said that their own rock’n’roll scene back then (from the 50s onwards) was also “underground” and of course, I agree, only that I didn’t experience it first hand to write confidently about it.

    And like I said before there’s a dearth of archival documentation to dive in. And so I have decided that maybe I should correct this, by starting a project of re-documenting this amazing history which we have but somehow neglected. All these years I have been slowly collecting cutting and recordings. Pretty limited as I have limited funds but it’ll be done, albeit rather slowly lah!

  12. Joe Kidd says:

    Hi Charles. Thank you for taking time to be in this discussion. I’ll be sending a list of interview questions later. I hope that yahoo address is usable.

    Yes, I should track down all these local “rockers” and “twangers” and I will. But you being a foreigner here in Kuala Lumpur during those days is also very interesting for me. It will make for a good counterpoint from what’s usually been heard or read here.

    I heard of the band Grim Preachers before and people told me that they were one heavy bluesy band, the heaviest band around those days they said. Ash Wednesday was mentioned in a Singaporean book (i’ll talk about it later). It’s also funny that you mentioned Bukit Bintang as a lot of people I met told me that Bukit Bintang was one happening place in the 60s and 70s. Actually I’m about 15 minutes away from Bukit Bintang! However that place is no longer a rocking place in terms of music anymore. It’s more about consumerist concerns such as fashion (high and low) and computers now. More about buying and consuming instead of creating, I guess.

    That “Camp Semangat Woodstock” is one important part of the local youth culture’s annals of misadventures. It’s notorious! Here’s a list of what I heard about it:

    1. It was held at a stadium in Cheras, KL
    2. There were rock bands from Indonesia, Singapore and Philippines there!
    3. It was officially opened by Datuk Harun Idris, then the Umno Youth Chief.
    4. A couple of old friends of mine told me how they hitchhiked from Terengganu to attend the show! One of them is Adi Jagat, now doing his rounds as a consummated “busker”.
    5. That there were loads of bongs and ganja being passed around, picturing it like a massive hippie “love fest”!
    6. It’s also where it is alledged that the “negative” term “BUDAYA KUNING” originated and then used by politicians to berate the youth till this very day. Budaya Kuning = Yellow Culture, meaning “Western Values” AKA “very loose moral one” or something similar!

    When I first saw the Hup Hup van behind that picture of The Strollers above, I immediately see King Studios in my head, and so it’s true that the picture was taken in that compound. Hup Hup, also well known as Life Records is now operating out of an old building down the hill from my house now, can see it from my verandah. The King Studio is still in Petaling Jaya, but was heard to have been divided into smaller companies which then handle the business concerns of the many different studio rooms. My band recorded our first album there in 1993.

    SF Loh? I think the guy started Mastering One, which is a small room at the King Studio complex set-up specially for mastering projects, and I used his services for a few of my own releases back in the late 90s.

    As on the “age” thing. I’m gonna be 42 this October 5th, so I’m not that young also lah!! Doesn’t bother me at all though!

    Okay, Charles, I’ll start an email interview soon. So keep an eye on your yahoo account.

    Cheers,

    Joe Kidd

  13. Charles Tyler says:

    Hey Joe – where you going with that gun in your hand? Let nothing stand in the way of a good story – but those wonderful myths surrounding Camp Semangat Woodstock do need a bit of dispelling…or correcting slightly. Here’s my recollection of events. I’d be interested to hear what others recall…

    1. It was held at Camp Semangat boy scout camp – down Seremban way – not in a stadium. It was a nice grassy field with trees round the side – a lovely spot.
    2. There were rock bands from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – I don’t remember any Philippino bands but that would have been good! I introduced quite a few of the bands on stage myself.. “And now please give a big hand for…..!”
    3. Maybe Datuk Idris opened it – I don’t remember..
    4. Yep – lots of people hitchhiked there from all over
    5. It was the authorities that painted it as being a wild orgy with drugs in abundance. It wasn’t – although that makes a nice myth. There might have been a little grass smoked discreetly but as far as I could tell pretty well all of the people who came were just average guys and gals. I didn’t notice any drug use at all myself. The irony was that all the people I knew who helped put it on – Russ Vogel, from the Peace Corps, Kerstin Moller, a rotary exchange scholar, John Irvine, a helicopter pilot who worked for the oil industry, and myself – were the most clean-living, non-druggie types you could possibly find. Just look at the songs I was writing then! We all loved being in Malaysia and we did it for the local people as a public service. We certainly didn’t want to rub anyone up the wrong way and we were acutely aware that we had to keep it clean. The local Coca-Cola company sponsored the stage and we got permission from the Camp Semangat people to use the grounds. It was all as well-organised and wholesome as could be.

    However the day after the festival the propaganda against it began. There must have been a government agent there taking pictures. The Straits Times ran a picture of just us caucasians on the front page – with no locals at all in the picture – and we were about the only caucasians there – sitting on the grass in front of the stage together with the headline “Hippies arrested at drug festival”! This was completely untrue. The picture itself was highly misleading. I wish I still had a copy of it though! That would be a treasure! Anyway nobody was arrested. Nothing happened at all except music and good times. It didn’t even rain – no mud 🙂 However when we all got home after clearing up the site for the boy scouts we found that police had visited all of our apartments and searched them and left instructions that we had to report to the local police station! The searches found nothing because there was nothing to find of course – I think we were lucky they didn’t plant stuff and claim to find it. It could have been worse. At the police station we were each given two weeks to get out of the country. No rough stuff. Just visas cancelled. It wasn’t a nice reward for organising a nice event that a lot of people enjoyed. This was my first experience of being the victim of a political agenda and being powerless to counter false accusations. It was quite a shock. We were frustrated and disappointed – but what to do? We left. It was years before I visited again. One lesson I got out of all this was – don’t believe what you read in the newspapers!

    So – I’m sorry to dampen the thrill of the legend of some wild, excessive rock and roll orgy – but it wasn’t that way at all. There was swinging and swaying and guitars playing and dancing in the fields – but it was all very nice and everybody was incredibly friendly and well-behaved. However clearly the authorities were worried by it. They didn’t want such events to catch on. They wanted to put a stop to any more such gatherings in case they became some kind of a threat.

    6. Maybe this was one of the reasons the term ‘Budaya Kuning’ came into popular use. Certainly the event was painted very negatively and was blamed on us Westerners .. however all we did was to help put on a concert so that local bands had a place to strut their stuff… the motivation, the talent and the audience was entirely home-grown.

  14. totziens says:

    Charles, thank you very much for sharing this kind of info with us.

    Looks like nothing much has changed over the decades – same kind of excuse is being used against rock n roll over and over again. I would say that this is not happening to caucasians. They’re now using the same tactic on the locals. Last year in Dec, the entire group of people (bands, organisers, property owner, audiences and even those hanging around nearby) were taken to the police station for all kinds of offence including Satan worshipping, drinking of goat’s blood, no business license to sell t-shirts and CDs, no permit to sell alcohol, no permit to organise the gig, no this permit and that permit or that license or this license…

    Again, I believe in you 101% that the press cannot be trusted. False info is very common. Some “smart” people in the press are very creative – even incidents that do not occur could appear in the press. That’s what I call “freedom” of press in this country – they write rubbish!!! Unfortunately, a lot of ignorant readers and even authorities tend to believe 100% on what they read. Press is the main culprit that causes all the problems.

    Once I read the newspaper about a caucasian who acted in a Hong Kong kung fu movie. The press stated that he could speak Chinese fluently. In reality, my friend whose uncle was his kung fu master said that he could only speak a few words of Chinese. There you go, believe the press more often!!!!

    Another incident was we told a magazine that the gig was going to be for free of charge after the “black metal Satan worshipping” incident. Yet, they published the ticket price based on outdated data. That could land us in trouble because we didn’t have the permit – it had to be a private party.

  15. roger says:

    Anyone out there know how I can get in touch with Russ Vogel?

  16. joe morrison says:

    nothing can come closed to the 70 s.thats the error of rock and roll.i remember at that time there were we malaysians had some outstanding bands, and they also perform at the universiti of malaya in the dewan’.to name a few bands that played there were the truth,feautring raja manor known as didie,another amazing guitarist,besides the late terry,we also had revolvers, the psychedelic, the wildtimers, the trackers and the hornets.what a year it was,those were the days.only time will tell.please check me out i have a very large of recods,cds,and dvds.mainly the 60 s and the 70 s.got to run til then i am out peace joe

  17. rosli abu hassan says:

    one top band in early 70 ,have seen them perform ,silly joke ,sound great,
    i woz at the woodstock carnival in cheras,happening
    yhe only once happen ere
    so lucky

  18. rosli abu hassan says:

    where all this band ,like CRAZY CREATION, ASH WEDNESDAY, SCRAPYARD, OWL
    STATUS, FALCON, GRIM PREACHERS,BROWN BACK BLUES,BEAUTIFUL SOUL,
    MANY MORE BIT FORGOTTEN

  19. Roxy says:

    where’s the interview with Charles?!

  20. Yanni says:

    Camp Semangat Woodstock ,I feel good to be be part of it …Malaysian history.

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