The Quests of 1960s reunite for concerts

The Quests of 1960s reunite for concerts
Ready to belt out their hits from the 1960s are The Quests, comprising (from left) bassist Sam Toh, drummer Lim Wee Guan, singer Vernon Cornelius, lead guitarist Raymond Leong and rhythm guitarist and band founder Jap Chong.

With the many platforms these days for local bands, such as the successful indie music festival Baybeats which draws tens of thousands of fans every year, musicians in Singapore could be said to be enjoying their time in the sun.

Still, none of them are candidates to receive the kind of fanatical, hysterical aduation that seems to be reserved for South Korean pop acts these days. The very idea that a Singapore band could be mobbed by fans seems far-fetched.

But it has happened before.

In the 1960s, five Singapore boys received mail, chocolates and flowers from fans every day. When they toured the region for shows, they also had their shirts and underwear stolen from their hotel rooms by souvenir-hunting devotees.

Jap Chong, the founding member of The Quests, recalls: "We felt like the Beatles. Our cars were surrounded by swarms of teenagers and it was hard to leave our shows." The Beatles comparison is no hyperbole - in this region, The Quests were as big as the British Fab Four. In fact, in the 1960s, they knocked the Beatles off Singapore and Malaysia's Hit Parade charts with their original song, Shanty.

Almost half a century on, the band will be reuniting for one more bash, with three shows on Sept 13 and 15 as part of My Queenstown's 60th anniversary celebrations as Singapore's first satellite estate. About 40 per cent of tickets have been sold.

It all started for them in Queenstown Secondary Technical School, where rhythm guitarist Chong and singerguitarist Raymond Leong studied. They were taking part in a local talent competition and derived the band's name from the school's acronym.

Eventually, drummer Lim Wee Guan, bassist Henry Chua and singer Vernon Cornelius joined the band.

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