Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekend Nostalgia- The Quests

The first time I head of The Quests was when I was in Form 4 when one of my classmates asked me excitingly one morning just as class was starting whether I was interested in dropping by at his house after school to listen to a new single recorded by a new group from Singapore. By then there were already many bands sprouting out all over KL and I thought this would be interesting to hear how Singapore bands sounded like for a change. What I heard was amazing. The lead guitar has a touch of Hank Marvin's [The Shadows] fingerings and yet it has a distinct style of its own. The opening five notes of the tune I heard emitting from the twin portable speakers became embedded in my mind and from then on, the music became a staple opening for us at many of the functions we played. The tune - "Shanty".

The Quests were a popular Singapore band of the 1960s. Formed in 1961 by Jap Chong, Raymond Leong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan, and later including guitarist Reggie Verghese and singer Vernon Cornelius, the band is considered the most successful local band of that era. The band started out by performing cover versions of British and American songs, but went on to record a number of singles and albums containing original compositions. The band is best known for its original hit song "Shanty".

In 1960, Chong Chow Pin (referred to by his nickname "Jap"), Raymond Leong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan often listened to British music records featuring the electric guitar. Students of about 13 and 14 years old at the time, they were neighbours in the Tiong Bahru area. Inspired by music acts such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the four practised playing popular songs. While they did not have formal training in playing instruments or reading music, they acquired these skills through imitation and practice.

In 1961, the four formed The Quests, with Chong on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Leong on lead guitar, Chua on bass guitar, and Lim on drums. The name of the band was derived from the school magazine of Queenstown Secondary Technical School (now Queenstown Secondary School), where Chong and Leongwere students.

Early years
The Quests' first paid performance was at St Andrew's Mission in 1961. As they were just starting out, they had to borrow instruments and equipment from friends and family. The band was paid $20 for the event.

In 1963, Reggie Verghese, then of The Checkmates, replaced Raymond Leong, who left the band to pursue an engineering career. With the addition of Siri Pereira
as lead vocalist for a brief period, the band became known as Siri Pereira and The Quests. When Wilson David replaced Pereira, the band became known as Wilson David and The Quests. Due to David's reputation as the "Elvis Presley of Singapore", the band added a number of Elvis songs to their repertoire.

Read more here

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The Quests' first single:

The Quests' second release - TEABREAK

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